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Pops concert marks glorious end to Vero Beach social season

It was a glorious Sunday afternoon with a cool easterly breeze – a perfect end-of-season day to take wicker picnic hampers, bright colored plastic coolers, wine carriers, parasols, bottles of good French Champagne, straw hats and folding chairs and head for the polo field at Windsor.

“Wow, what a day!” was the frequent comment heard from guests as 1,200 arrived for the 20th annual May Pops “Broadway on the Beach” concert to benefit the Indian River Medical Center Foundation.

For many, this event marks the end of the winter season on the barrier island as they begin packing up and heading off to summer homes or primary residences.

Flags flapped in the steady breeze as VIP guests made their way to the clusters of white party tents that had been set up on the emerald green field. In addition to the large dining tent for 500 guests, there were eight private tents for 12 and a hospitality tent buzzing with activity, partying and animated conversations.

The VIP attendees had the option of ordering a special lunch and wine in advance from the catering menu, bringing their own picnics or taking advantage of the buffet lunch catered by Puff & Stuff, a large catering business out of Orlando. (The absence of a local caterer was a bit of a surprise to several guests, who commented that they would like to see a local caterer get the business next year.)

Dr. Clark Beckett (a vascular surgeon and vice chief of staff at Indian River Medical Center) and wife, Kim Beckett, have co-chaired the May Pops event with Dr. Marc Rose and Heidi Rose for the past four years. They all agreed that “Every year, we pray for good weather!” This year, it couldn’t have been better.

Kim Beckett spoke about how “all of the proceeds from this event go to the Indian River Medical Center Foundation — specifically to their Patient Advocacy Program, which is something very near and dear to my heart.”

Dr. Beckett’s mother had breast cancer several years ago and it was during that time that the Beckett’s came to fully appreciate the program. “We have personally experienced having a Patient Advocate first-hand and know how it can benefit you and your family. It doesn’t matter what your medical background is. If you are suddenly in the hot seat and need to become the caregiver for someone in your family, you’re very scared. Having a Patient Advocate is like having a guardian angel take you to the hospital.”

Kim talked about the upcoming concert. “The Brevard Symphony is phenomenal and this years’ soloist, Jodi Benson, has a spectacular voice. She was in Broadway’s “Little Mermaid” and the Disney movie playing the part of Ariel. She is going to sing a whole string of Broadway hits tonight, and it’s going to be spectacular!” And it was.

Chatted with Dick and Helen Post, who have been the Presenting Sponsors of the May Pops at Windsor since its inception 20 years ago. Mr. and Mrs George Higgs of the Shores and John and Helen Higgs of John’s Island were also in attendance.

John talked about his upcoming plans. “We’re going back to Pelham Manor shortly and then taking a trip to Maine, Nova Scotia and South America this summer, but we’ll be back soon. I have to get the five o’clock hour started up for next season at John’s Island.”

Ariane and Sebastian Schmid, who bought property in the Moorings 30 years ago, were also preparing their Vero departure. “We live in Switzerland and have been coming back to the Moorings every year from February to May,” Ariane shared. “We are very spoiled!”

Dr. Nancy Cho looked stunning in a black and white shift and smiled as she said: “I freeload at this event every year and by that I mean that I’m Mr. Jack Kennedy’s guest. He graciously invites me to the May Pops each year to expose me to some culture.”

Dr. Cho was with her friend, Greta Pierpont, who works for Chase.

Windsor residents Vin and Carla Ryan are a delightful couple. We swapped Block Island stories, as they have had a summer house on Dory’s Cove Road for the past 30 years, very close to a house where my family summers. Vin used to own The Atlantic Inn in Block Island, a wonderful place to stay with the world’s best wrap-around porch overlooking Block Island Sound.

The Ryans’ main residence is in Boston “right across the street from the Frog Pond in the Boston Common.” Vin told me. “When we came down to Vero years ago and bought our home in Windsor, my kids said to me, ‘Dad, Florida? Have you lost your mind?’ Then they came down here, drove into Windsor, looked around and noticed that everyone they saw was smiling.

My daughter said ‘look at this place! Everybody’s so happy.’ Then my other daughter responded: ‘How can a whole group of people that live behind a white horse fence not be happy?’”

That sentiment was underscored by Paul Johnson, a resident of Orchid for the last eight years who was getting ready to head back to Guilford, CT for the summer. “This place is like parachuting into paradise. It’s just wonderful.”

Vero Beach caterer Susan Dayton was on a scouting trip to check out the catering competition before heading to Mel and Nancy Goodes house in John’s Island to cater a Lobster Dinner Nantucket Party.

“I came because I do a lot of catering for the Indian River Hospital Foundation. I just catered their Donor Party at the Stutts’ house last week and they suggested that I come up and take a look at the event to see if I felt comfortable doing it, possibly, next year.”

An outdoor “living room” space, consisting of white cotton duck, slip-covered sofas and club chairs, was the spot where Catherine Hyde of Windsor was entertaining her four, very funny and outgoing good friends from Toronto who have been visiting Catherine every year for the past six years to ‘have some girl time and play golf.’

When asked if they were enjoying their stay, they responded in unison: “Are you kidding? We absolutely love coming down to Vero Beach. It’s totally fabulous here.” I began to think I should consider taping these testimonials for the VB Chamber of Commerce…

Spotted Sandy Barrett, who looked great in a wide brimmed pink straw hat, Jan McCoy, Nancy Sugahara, and Duke Habernicklel, all of John’s Island.

As the crowds finished lunch, the winds picked up as Alan Jones introduced the orchestra, and soloist Jodi Benson went on to belt out a wonderful selection of Broadway songs that included George Gershwin’s ‘Crazy for You,’ selections from Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Broadway Baby’ by Stephen Sondheim.

Dancing as free spirits to the wonderful music with total abandon in front of the entire crowd was Enzo Crisafulli and Samara Coakley, two precious two-year olds whose tiny bare feet barely touched the ground. They entertained everyone throughout the entire concert.

Heading back to the parking lot, chatted with Dan and Margaret O’Shea, who live in Grand Harbor and New York, and are getting ready to summer at their house in Old Lyme, Connecticut. “The nice thing about coming to this event is that you have a wonderful afternoon, and it’s for such a great cause” said Margaret.