The annual party honoring patrons of Historic Macon Foundation on Jan. 26 set a record for attendance, according to the staff and volunteers who decorated the Alexander IV Grammar School building with old class photographs for the evening.
Ethiel Garlington, executive director of Historic Macon, said there were more young patrons in attendance than usual and that a number of alumni came to see the condition of the school since it closed earlier in this decade. Wimberly Dennis Treadwell, Carl Discher and Hazel Wallace Hamilton toured their old classrooms with Marilee Kinard Rivers and her husband, Mickey, from a slightly earlier generation.
In 2015, Historic Macon placed the school on its list of “Fading Five” in town, vulnerable buildings that are integral components of the neighborhoods where they stand, and critical to the preservation of those neighborhoods.
The Ingleside neighborhood is now listed on the National Register as a historic district. Losing a structure that contributed to the personality of the area and to its residents’ history would leave a significant void in maintaining the integrity of Ingleside’s boundaries. Following town hall meetings with area homeowners, and determining that the highest and best use of the property would be as a senior living facility, Dover Development from Knoxville, Tennessee, was awarded the project.
Fueled by the excitement of renewed purpose for Alexander IV, patrons danced to the music of the Grapevine Band and enjoyed the cocktail buffet catered by Two’s Company from Thomaston. Although this is the first patrons’ party held on the site of an unfinished HMF project, the irony of the event being held in a former elementary school, which several in the crowd had attended, elicited more than a few chuckles.
21 YEARS OF ‘ALL THAT JAZZ’
The City Auditorium was once again the scene for the Tubman Museum’s “All That Jazz,” the popular annual fundraiser that brings the best in jazz, rhythm and soulful blues to Macon for an outstanding night of fast-paced entertainment and fun. The events committee re-created the jazz bar ambiance with the theme of black, silver and red, reflected in the crystal centerpieces on each table.
The party kicked off at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 with a bountiful buffet of delectable hors d’oeuvres and wine, followed by an array of bite-sized pastries and coffee. Before the last bite, guest artist Avery Sunshine was at the keyboard crooning some of her own songs in a buttery voice that combines a little of the best of gospel, soul and jazz. A consummate entertainer, Sunshine’s banter between tracks was spontaneous and humorous, poking a little fun at herself and at the crowd, which she held in the palm of her hand.
The headliner for the evening was After 7, an R&B group that last year recorded its first album in 20 years, reviving the platinum success they enjoyed in the 1990s when “Ready or Not” and “Nights Like This” were on the Billboard charts. Their choreographed routine was reminiscent of an earlier idolized group, the Platters, and their outfits a nod to the 1960s, when sharkskin suits were a requisite accessory for the R&B persona. The easy listening, jazz-infused music, a romantic departure for the evening, had the dance floor full of swaying couples in ball gowns and tuxes.
Elaine Lucas, Macon-Bibb County commissioner, and her husband, state Rep. David Lucas, joined Darrie Schlesinger and husband Larry Schlesinger, also a Macon-Bibb County commissioner, and others, at one table for the festivities while Karla and Tim Andrews were surrounded by friends, including Canaan Marshall, at their table.
At the conclusion of the evening’s program, guests who had purchased tables for the event were invited to savor the afterglow of the successful evening at a late-night party hosted by AJ the DJ, who entertained until midnight with his special light show and recorded music.
DANCING AT THE SPORTS HALL OF FAME
On Jan. 27, Paula East invited some of her students and the public to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame for a $10 refresher course in Latin dancing and in swing with help from fellow instructor Diane Kent. DJ Chester Gibbs and Kent kept the most reticent dancers on the floor with line dancing while East introduced the more adventuresome dancers to dance patterns, blending Latin and swing to make even the rank amateur look like a pro.
East promotes dancing as one of the most energetic forms of exercise and, in addition to her regular classes, will schedule more dances at the sports hall — watch for future opportunities in The Telegraph’s Out & About. With the number of concerts in Macon featuring great dance bands, there is no excuse for being unprepared the next time the opportunity presents itself for you to show off your moves on the dance floor.