DREAM BIG: 500 participate in Golisano Children’s Museum unveiling

Spanning a decade from conception to fruition, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON) was unveiled on March 23 to a joyful gathering of more than 520 merrymakers

From left to right, Sherry Silverman, Shelia Smith Davis and Barbara Johnson dance during the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples Inaugural Dream Gala on Friday, March 23, at North Collier Regional Park. The event served as an official grand opening and celebration for the new museum.

Ivan B. Seligman

From left to right, Sherry Silverman, Shelia Smith Davis and Barbara Johnson dance during the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples Inaugural Dream Gala on Friday, March 23, at North Collier Regional Park. The event served as an official grand opening and celebration for the new museum.

— Spanning a decade from conception to fruition, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON) was unveiled on March 23 to a joyful gathering of more than 520 merrymakers.

Labeled Dream Gala 2012, the extravaganza fully encompassed the two-acre site located within the North Collier Regional Park on Livingston Road.

Greeted by a coterie of sometimes fearsome fairytale characters, guests, many dressed in C’MON blue, strode along a winding blue carpet.

Following a proclamation presented by Mayor John Sorey and another from Gov. Scott, Executive Director Joe Cox, former Mayor Bill Barnett, founder and honorary chair Allyson Loos representing the Loos family and honorary chair Tom Golisano as well as event chair Shelia Smith Davis all spoke briefly. Board Chair Ed Jones even exclaimed, "It’s a damn good looking crowd." Just as the ribbon was snipped, all surged inside.

Dispersing upstairs and down and throughout the exhibits, most were in awe equal to that of first time visiting children who revel in the look, touch and listen aspects of the unique museum.

Notables present for the festivities were Jane, Joe Cox’s mother visiting from their native Malta and Monica Seles, formerly number one world tennis professional now a resident in Naples.

After an hour of camaraderie both inside and in the adjacent outdoor Johnsonville Backyardville and near the rolling hill and still maturing hedge maze, it was on to the massive dining tent. Interior décor designed by Rufino Hernandez and his Garden District team was executed utilizing C’MON logo colors for playful, suspended jellyfish, floral centerpieces and table coverings.

Musical entertainment was provided by an Alan James Powerhouse band throughout the evening right until dancing diehards called it a night. Davis was first out on the floor expertly dancing with a professional partner. When not on the dance floor, revelers ended the evening in the intimate Stargazer Lounge.

With Kellie Burns, NBC-2 News Anchor working in tandem with Napa Valley auctioneer and Arietta wine purveyor Fritz Hatton, they raised a total of $271,000 in live auction income derived from nine packages acquired by auction co-chairs Linda Malone and Simone Lutgert. Bob Harden was dinner emcee.

C’MON Director of External Affairs Heather Patton announced that net proceeds from ticket sales at $1,500 per person, live auction and sponsorship income and a $25,000 donation made that evening totalled an estimated $450,000.

Information: (239) 514-0084 or www.cmon.org.

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