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Festive Fetes

Originally Posted: January 03, 2007

Nicole B. Brewer

Getting a jump on the traditional New Year's Eve revelry, Judi McDowell and husband artist Michael McDowell filled their sprawling Bull Path home Friday evening with an amazing array of fellow artists, writers, producers, local business leaders and just plain fun folks. Anyone lucky enough to score an invite to one of their holiday bashes knows there'll be abundant food, flowing wines and spirits and best of all great conversation.

Arriving with producer Patti Watt, we were greeted with bear hugs by the garrulous Michael who swept us into the swirling crowd of over 200 guests spread out through the multi level home and yes the massive outdoor deck. With the unseasonably warm weather and the heating tower and roaring outdoor fire place many guests hung out on the deck where another bar was kept busy pouring champagne and shaking up holiday cocktails..

Evan Thomas and Toinette Gray at the New Year's Eve Bash at the McDowell's.
Photo by John Wegorzewski

Among those dining on the honey ham, and grilled salmon with all the trimmings were: Curtis De Forest and Susan Hayrie, Mary and Alfred Lee, Ute Kohse, Jim Barclay, Martha Mattingly, Alison O'Malley, Bobbie Braun, Lonnie Kennedy, Richard Schwargerl, Sarabelle Prince, Sherry Schreiber, Michael Knigin and Joan Kraisky, Jacki and Stephen Zimmerman, Gordon Ryan, Susan Marlow, Deirdre Guest, Vered, Hadley Vogel, Toinette Gray and Marge Muse.

Strolling around the deck we ran into Twice upon a Bagel's Steve and Maura Lynch, artist David Gamble and wife Lora Fox Gamble and her sister Cedering Fox, artists Darius Yektai and William Falkenburg and more familiar faces from the art scene.

Believe it or not, it was hours before we realized there was a second party happening downstairs with the 18-25 junior set rocking away to a mix of techno and house music!

Sometime around midnight the DJ upstairs began spinning a heady mix of salsa, disco and old fashioned rock keeping the dance floor pumping until the wee hours. Hours later exhausted, we called it a night and the crowd was still dancing away. No doubt about it the McDowell's entertain with a capital E.

Back in 2006 there were tons of fabulous parties - each one was unique but had many of the same familiar Hamptons faces.

In November, Tom Brokaw presented Dan W. Lufkin with the Connecticut Environmental Leadership Award at Audubon Connecticut's Dancing with Nature Fall Dinner Dance at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT. The gala evening raised over $750,000 for the Long Island Sound policy, conservation, and education programs of the National Audubon Society work through Audubon Connecticut and its Audubon Greenwich Center. This is the most raised in a single night for any one Audubon program in Connecticut.

This is only the second time that this Environmental Leadership award has been presented. Hampton resident Dan Lufkin is renown for his business prowess from Chairman of Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette (DLJ) to co-founder of Questor Partners Fund I & II. Dan's record led the Wall Street Journal to list him among the most significant "100 Men in the World: People Who Influenced Our Daily Business. His true passion is for the environment. In 1970 he was a member of the organizing group of the first Earth Day. For more than forty years Dan has been deeply involved in the protection and restoration of Connecticut's environment, the Long Island Sound, and the world's natural resources. In 1971 he became Connecticut's first Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Under his watch, Connecticut was one of the first states in the nation to establish inland wetland regulations and the first to create a private enterprise, Resource Recovery Authority. Dan gave a gift of $100,000 towards the campaign to Restore the Sound.

It was a beautiful evening. Katie and Donal O'Brien were Honorary Chairs. Jeffrey Kauffman of Northern Trust was the Corporate Chair. Holt Thrasher and Elizabeth Geske were the State and Greenwich Chairs. The event began with a small cocktail reception for those from the original DEP formation period and some of the Lufkin's oldest and dearest friends, upstairs in a room with verandas that overlooked the Sound and a set of islands that are part of the Stewart McKinny National Wildlife Refuge. The Room provided views of one of the largest wintering areas on the Sound for waterfowl including Red Breasted Mergansers, Long-Tailed Ducks, and Common Goldeneye.

Tom Brokaw with Cynthia and Dan Lufkin at the Dancing with Nature Fall Dinner
Dance. Photo by PatrickMcMullan.com

Downstairs in the legendary Club's main dining room all 300 guests, including Arthur Rocque, former DEP Commissioner Leslie Caruthers, Chris Beck, Wendy Carduner of the New York Club Doubles, Elaine and Ken Langone, jewelry designer Adria de Haume with her husband Dr. George Roush, Quest Magazine's Grace and Chris Meigher, David Tundermann, Sharon Handler and Ambassador John Loeb, Doug Costle and Kari and Carl Tiedemann, gathered for cocktails, There were magic tricks performed by Bill Herz and Audubon's Scot Heth was there with Sophia the Barn Owl, who charmed guests with her beauty and almost human nature. Also in attendance with Heth were a kestrel and a hawk named Chip.

The O'Briens opened the program and introduced Audubon CT's Executive Director, Tom Baptist. "There are two people who deserve special recognition for their far-sighted vision and enormous support for Audubon. Joni and Kevin Kimberlin helped to make possible the construction of the new Kimberlin Nature Education Center in Greenwich. Also with us tonight is Dave Miller, Executive Director of Audubon New York, a captain of the effort to protect Long Island Sound," Baptist said. Matthew Kolk, publisher and editor-in-chief of the event's media sponsor Fairfield County Home, was thanked.

The evening's Master of Ceremonies was Audubon CT State Board Chair, Holt Thrasher, who said, "By definition, Conservation is "Humanity caring about the Future." Gina McCarthy, current DEP Commissioner spoke on the legacy Lufkin and his team has provided the state.

Tom Brokaw made the Award presentation. "Even Washington is beginning to get the message that you can't conduct business on a dead planet," said the former NBC anchor and author. And then, "You all know why we are here. Dan Lufkin has always been a great citizen, we need to enlist more like him." The award itself was a large and dramatic Audubon portrait of an Osprey, appropriate since the large hawk's population on the New England coast was once decimated by pesticide usage but since the placement of restrictions on the use of certain chemicals there has been a steady recovery of its numbers.

Lufkin acknowledged his old friend saying, "If Webster's was to write a definition of "Great American," the first response would be "Tom Brokaw." He proceeded to thank his wife Cynthia, applaud his step daughter Schuyler Hazard's excellent progress in school, recognize his co-workers from the early days at the DEP, and ask noted environmentalist and former Idaho Governor and Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus to take a bow.

Dan then focused his remarks on the battle to save The Long Island Sound. "If we put our shoulders to it, we can make a significant difference in this body of water," he said. "At this moment we have the potential to change the downward course of its life. It is our duty," he added.

Leading the applause were Juliet Thrasher, Anne Flinn, Bart Peters, Dick Barlow, Frederica Brenneman, Steve Thompson, Steven Lerangis, Tamara Ketler, Will Grose, Zell Steever, Katherine Nixon, Lolly Prince, Marianne Dickinson, Matthew Kolk, Rani Newman, Rita Bowlby and Sandy Breslin.

Peter Duchin and his band took over the stage and expertly played tunes that kept the dance floor filled throughout the night. Enjoying the music were Gail and Bill Mapel, Meaghan and Don Henry, Stephanie and David Hazard, Carol and Rusty Mather, Justina and Jean-Pierre Gagne, and Sarah Horne and Will Grose.

Audubon Connecticut is the state office of the National Audubon Society. Its mission is to further the protection of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through science, education, advocacy and conservation, for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. Audubon Connecticut envisions a state with a rich and diverse natural heritage, where there is ample habitat for birds and other wildlife, where a majority of its people appreciate and participate in their natural environment, and whose children are educated and motivated to become the conservation leaders of tomorrow.

Audubon Connecticut leads the Campaign to Restore the Sound. Originating in Canada, the Sound's watershed covers 16,820 square miles in 6 states. It contributes an estimated $5.5 billion annually to the regional economy and is home to 10% of the U.S. population (28 million people), all located within 50 miles of its shores. Unfortunately, today the ecological health of the Sound is at a critical crossroads and that is why the Long Island Sound Campaign has become one of Audubon's top national priorities. Despite the best efforts of many, the Sound's waters are still degraded by pollution and threatened by overdevelopment. Hypoxia robs the Sound of precious oxygen and continues to render a significant portion of the western Sound lifeless each summer.

Among the Stewards, Patrons and Committee members helping to make this evening a success were: CEO of National Audubon Society John Flicker, Nicole Miller, Howard Stern, Sabrina and Carl Forsythe, Fay Vincent, Louise and Edgar Cullman, R. Couri Hay, Sandy and Tony Halsey, Richard Jenrette, Nancy and Robert Friedman, Suzanne and Richard Hogan, Catherine and Philip Korsant, Susan Lynch, Charles Ellis, Robert Fiske, Lisa D'Urso, George Gould, Maryann and Robert Marston, Maria and Matthew Popp, Ann Colley, Nat Reed, Hugo Thomas, Robert Marston, Joe Boren and Barry Tobias of The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com HamptonsOnline NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer

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