St. Patrick’s Home draws on Cuban influences at Tropicana fundraiser in Ottawa

Caroline Phillips
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It was a night of panama hats, mojito cocktails and Cuban cigars (the chocolate kind) at the St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation’s fourth annual signature soirée held Thursday at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre.

The evening, A Night at the Tropicana, re-created the colourful and nostalgic feel of the world-famous cabaret and club in Havana, Cuba.

“In it’s time, the Tropicana was regarded as one of the largest and most beautiful nightclubs in the world,” Jan Kaminski, president of presenting sponsor Colonnade Investments and board chair of the St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation, said while welcoming supporters of the 288-bed, long-term, 24-hour care facility located on Riverside Drive.

“It had everything: classic architecture, exotic grounds, live music, dining, dancing, gambling, celebrities, showgirls and mobsters. In some ways, it’s the antithesis of St. Pat’s Home and in some ways it’s exactly like it,” he joked.

The evening raised $100,000 toward the purchase of priority medical equipment for St. Pat’s. Founded two years before Confederation, it’s one of the oldest homes for the aged in Ontario.

The 310 attendees included heads of diplomatic missions, such as Cuban Ambassador Julio Garmendía Peña and his wife, Miraly González González. Among those from the business community were Kelly Santini law partner Larry Kelly, who chaired the $10-million fundraising campaign for the new St. Pat’s building, and Heart & Crown Irish Pubs co-owner and long-time supporter Pat Kelly.

Veteran event planner Sandy Ouellette, who teaches in the event management program at Algonquin College, was back to chair the gala. It showcased Cuban music and dancing and offered the the opportunity to outbid fellow gala-goers on a limo ride over to the official residence in Rockcliffe of Irish Ambassador Jim Kelly and his wife, Anne Martin, for a gourmet dinner for eight.

Also on the auction block was a seven-night trip for two to Cuba, donated by Sunwing Vacations.

Back to emcee the gala was St. Pat’s supporter Michael O’Byrne from CTV Ottawa News. The facility was home for many years to his grandmother, who lived to a ripe old age.

“It was a wonderful, wonderful place for her to spend those last 20 years,” O’Byrne told the room.

Organizations: Algonquin College, Tropicana, Ottawa Foundation Heart Crown Irish Pubs CTV Ottawa News

Geographic location: Cuba, Ottawa, Havana Riverside Drive Ontario Rockcliffe

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