But Only On Festive Occasions

It’s hard to say what was biggest—the hearts, the minds, or the wallets—at Big in Boston, the Big Sister Association’s gala, held at the Museum of Fine Arts to honor former first lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Big Sister Association’s Gala. Photo Credit: David Fox

Given her profile, it’s perhaps not surprising that there were protesters out front and breathless acolytes inside, as well as a few smart-alecks who made wisecracks along the lines of, “Think she’s getting paid for this gig?”

The evening began with cocktails and chitter-chatter in the rotunda, followed by a sumptuous sit-down dinner in the Shapiro Family Courtyard, all of which was flawless thanks to the co-chairs, party planner nonpareil Bryan Rafanelli and advertising mogul Jack Connors. Also on-hand: co-honoree (and Camp Harborview head honcha) Sharon McNally, the big-little combo of Margaret Connelly and Alyvia Norris, state treasurer Deb Goldberg (whose grandfather founded Big Sister’s precursor), her dashing and debonair husband, Michael Winter, stunning blond emcee Lisa Hughes, her lovable shutterbug, Mike Casey, development giant Joe Corcoran, media mogul Josefina Bonilla, banking babe Hannah Grove, the incomparable Courtney and Michael Forrester, uber-philanthropist Don Rodman, the achingly lovely Saskia Epstein and her handsome other half, Paul, the perfectly low-key Fotene Demoulas, restaurateurs extraordinaire Michael Pagliarini and Pamela Ralston, and one guest who recalled, “See that woman over there? Her husband is tall, bald and pale, like mine, and once at a party I put my arm around him.”

Evelyn Reyes Beato and Ray Beatoat the Big Sister Association’s Gala. Photo Credit: C. McIntosh

Bryan Rafanelli and Jack Connors at the Big Sister Association’s Gala. Photo Credit: David Fox

Dinner was punctuated by speeches, including one by Clinton, who was escorted onstage by a cohort of Little Sisters and called the recognition, “The most amazing award I’ve ever gotten.”

One attendee forgot his wallet at home and was forced to borrow money from a friend, who said, “Here’s 40 bucks. With interest, you’ll owe me 60 by Friday,” and another who had grown her hair and then shaved it for Locks of Love commented, “I’m looking very earth-mother-slash-living-in-the-wrong-decade.”

However, the evening’s best exchange came when someone suggested to a guest that he should consider volunteering as a Big Brother.

“I’m not sure I’m the best example,” he said, raising his wine glass. “I drink way too much.” ◆

Avez-vous dish? Dirt? A spectacular social occasion? Call J.S. at 617-859-1400, ext. 303, or send an email to jonathan@improper.com.

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