On Saturday night, the Children’s Place Association’s “Once Upon a Time” gala returned to Union Station after a year at another locale. The venue swap was a sign of increased attendance: While least year’s gala drew around 315 guests, 345—or about three more tables’ worth—made it out this year.
“Last year’s event at the Cultural Center fit our theme of ‘Once Upon a Time in Make Believe,’ and the venue is truly stunning,” said the association’s interim director of development, Jennifer Sampson. “That said, we found it just a bit too small for the number of guests we have come to expect each year, and we had an even higher guest count expected for the 2011 event.”
Along with the size of Union Station, Sampson said that she and her team were drawn back to the venue because “we have found that our vendors are able to take the blank canvas of the space and transform it to fit our theme.” This year, the event got a Chicago theme. “We wanted the gala to celebrate our [20-year] history, and honor the city we call home,” she said.
After cocktail hour, where hors d’oeuvres included mini hot dogs, the Stu Hirsh Orchestra struck up “Sweet Home Chicago” to signal that it was time for guests to take their dinner seats. Tables got street signs that called out local intersections, and Jewell’s first course was a salad topped with a pastry shaped like the letter C. And, Sampson pointed out, “as a historic Chicago landmark, Union Station reflects our theme.”