By Walter Nicholls Posted December 9, 2008, 9:00 AM EST
WASHINGTON Last night, at the 31st annual Kennedy Center Honors gala, some 1,900 arts supporters and official Washington types turned out to salute this year's honorees: Morgan Freeman, George Jones, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, Pete Townshend, and Roger Daltrey. Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Clint Eastwood, and Garth Brooks attended, paying tribute at the two-and-a-half-hour gala in the opera house, followed by a seated dinner in the grand foyer, underwritten exclusively by the Boeing Company.
With the country in a recession and most nonprofits feeling the pinch, vendors kept costs down at the request of gala coordinator Campbell Peachey & Associates. “Certainly, we did a little belt tightening. But in past years, we have never been extravagant, so there isn’t a lot to cut,” said firm president Carolyn Peachey, who worked with gala co-chairs Buffy Cafritz and Ann Jordan and in-house caterer Restaurant Associates. “A little came off the centerpieces, but decor has never been an overriding factor.”
In the football field-length—and relatively narrow—grand foyer, floor-to-ceiling stripes of rose and pale green hues lit the walls, with six simple votive candles on each of the 168 tables (which each sat 9 to 13 guests). Muted brick red and gold linens from D.C. Rental had a muted effect, putting emphasis on the centerpieces of jumbo roses in red, yellow and peach.
JLB Floral was responsible for the series of six unobtrusive lemon-leaf screens that hid railings and unsightly air vents, and created a backdrop for the bar areas. Three kitchen and service tents on the River Terrace provided smooth access to servers under tight conditions. The evening's menu included duck confit in a white bean cassoulet beside a bundle of baby carrots and haricots verts. The performance segment of the gala will be broadcast on CBS on Tuesday, December 30.