John McEnroe plays to the crowd Feb. 18 during the 2nd annual ‘Tennis on the Ave.’ Grand Slam champions McEnroe and Mats Wilander competed as part of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. Photo by Tim Stepien
By Thom Smith
Spring training is here. Time to lather up with sunscreen, put on your team hat and head to the ballpark. But why not make it really special?
Born in Boston, Christine DiRocco can’t remember when she wasn’t a fan, of baseball in general, and the Red Sox in particular.
“We’d go to games when we could, and when we couldn’t, we watched them on TV or listened on the radio,” said DiRocco, who is now the publicist at the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan. “I absolutely love the game. So I’ve always had this dream of putting together a special baseball package. This year I was finally able to do it.”
The Ritz has teamed with the Florida Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals and management at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, to produce the Take Me Out to the Ballgame “Play Ball” spring training package. It offers hotel guests accommodations, a mini-road trip to the stadium, four box seats at a game, a media stat pack, plus a chance to go on the field and behind the scenes, touring the clubhouse. One member of the group can throw out the first ball; another can be honorary bat kid. Beginning rate for a family of four is $799. Call (561) 533-6000.
Both Boynton Beach and Delray Beach are offering more modest but no less exciting day trips that include the bus ride, batting practice, premium seats, and photo ops.
Spring Training with the Schoolhouse, hosted by the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum will take in the Marlins-Mets game on March 20. Tickets are $37.50 for museum members, $47.50 for non-members. (561-742-6780)
Delray’s Parks & Recreation Department is offering a Marlins Spring Training Day Trip on March 24. The $45 tab includes bus ride, seats behind home plate and a $10 food voucher. (243-7350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Elwood’s is back. Not in the same place on Atlantic, since that spot’s been taken over by Johnny Brown’s, but it’s still close by the railroad tracks, which is fitting for a barbecue joint. Actually, part of the address is the same — from 301 E. Atlantic to 301 NE Third Ave., formerly occupied by The Annex and Two Thirds Tavern — and Elwood, aka Mike Gochenour, hasn’t changed much either.
Gochenour helped launch the Delray miracle in that old gas station in 1993. He offered live music, including an Elvis impersonator, decent food and cold beer. Bikers loved the place; so did the yuppies. He sold it in ’09, but hinted that, like MacArthur, he might someday return.
And he’s brought with him much of the old staff, a restructured 301 East house band and the promise of special appearances by The Dillengers, Jason Colannino and Black Finger.
First time’s a charm … for Chuck Gittleman. He may have been executive chef at newly opened Deck 84 for only three months, but he’s no rookie. He knows how to work with garlic, so much so that he took top honors at the Delray Beach Garlic Fest with three courses featuring goat and garlic and dethroned three-time winner Andy Trousdale of Le Bistro.
Gitelman offered up a salad of seared spiced goat with shaved fennel/sunflower sprouts, garlic yogurt dressing and plantain croutons; an appetizer of chopped goat steak (Holstein) with a salad of roasted garlic, mushroom and arugula; and a main dish of curried grilled goat, bone in, with garlic spinach, mashed acorn squash and mango relish.
Put it on the menu.
Things looked poorly for one of Delray’s great traditions, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, on March 12. City fees and insurance had doubled in the past two years and organizers had no idea how they would cover it. Word got out, and to the rescue sprang Peter DeRosa and Mark Hasche of PeterMark Salon. They signed on as presenting sponsors.
In turn, Mercedes-Benz of Delray, Bru’s Room, Cigar Connoisseur, Stuart & Shelby Development, and the new Buddha Sky Bar and Atlantic Ocean Club ponied up additional funds.
Buddha Sky Bar and Atlantic Ocean Club went even further. They’re opening a VIP Skybox from noon to 5 where guests can enjoy a lofty view of the parade while sampling complimentary green libations and hors d’ oeuvres for $100.
Of course, there will be the usual pre- and post-parade parties on the front lawn at Old School Square, with live shows at 3:30 and 5:15 by Journey and Bon Jovi tribute bands.
Oh, yeah, and the parade, an international tribute to firefighters, begins at 2 p.m.
Films by an award-winning veteran, a successful actor making the leap to directing and a dedicated local filmmaker who keeps plugging away: the Palm Beach International Film Festival, as usual, will offer a little bit of everything during its March 23-28 run.
The opener will be Win Win, whose director, Thomas McCarthy, made a name for himself acting in The Lovely Bones, 2012, and in several installments of The Wire. So now he’s behind the camera, barking orders to the likes of Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Jeffrey Tambor.
Mark Medoff, by comparison, was making headlines before McCarthy reached puberty, winning a Tony as a playwright for Children of a Lesser God, but he’s acted in, directed and produced more than his share, including Clara’s Heart. Now the University of Miami grad, who also served as the Burt Reynolds Eminent Scholar at FSU’s theater school, is back as writer and director of festival feature Refuge, starring Linda Hamilton and Christopher McDonald.
And then we have Frank Eberling. He’s had a love affair with a camera in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years. Started as a TV news shooter, branched into documentaries and even dabbled in a couple of locally made features and taught his craft to hundreds of high school and college students. Frank’s latest project is Turkles, which he wrote, directed and filmed. It’s a kids comedy about turtle egg poachers and, as is typical of Eberling’s productions, cast and crew are locals.
The festival will close March 28 with The First Grader, a Kenyan film about the struggle to get the education he could never afford by an 84-year-old man.
As for the suspense, well, most of it has abated along with rumors that the festival would not be held this year.
“That was never true,” festival Executive Director Randi Emerman said. “The only question was about Mizner Park Cinema, because we knew it was going to close. But we’ve got it all worked out.”
Instead of Mizner, the festival’s Boca site will be the new Living Room Theaters on the FAU campus. Screenings also will be held at the Movies of Delray, Lake Worth Playhouse and Muvico CityPlace in West Palm Beach. Boca’s Bridge, recently renovated, is the host hotel this year.
Festival organizers have kept the celeb list a tight secret, but they did let on that this year’s Golden Palm Award will go to the busiest man in movies … Richard Jenkins.
The Visitor, in which he appeared with McCarthy, is just one of 20 credits for Jenkins since 2005, and it earned him an Oscar nomination. Actually, his career stretches back to Silverado (1985) and before, and includes The Witches of Eastwick, Stealing Home, Sea of Love, There’s Something About Mary, Random Hearts, Shall We Dance, Eat, Pray, Love and the just-released Hall Pass. Jenkins will be honored at a new event, the Silver Screen Splash on Friday, March 25, at the Boca Resort & Club swimming pool.
“If it rains, I have a backup,” Emerman said. “And in keeping with our commitment to make this a festival for everyone, people can go to every film and every event, including the Splash, with a Platinum Pass for just $300. A $150 Gold Pass admits to every event except the Splash, and a pass for the festival films is offered to students for $35.” (www.pbifilmfest.org)
A car dealership is an odd place for a fashion show, but then the “All About Shuzz,” March 11 at Mercedes Benz of Delray, is not your typical runway event.
Participants, literally, can be “the first” to acquire shoes as they are paraded on the runway — more than 100 pairs from the latest collections of such international designers as Gucci, Chanel, Tory Burch, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Valentino.
All proceeds from the ticket sale — from $100 to $250 for VIP seating — and a portion of shoe sale cash will go directly to supply shoes to children around the world. In addition, the event will raise money to help support mission trips to Haiti and other countries.
Shuzz is nothing if not ambitious. Its goal is to provide shoes to 10 million poverty-stricken children around the world in the next 10 years. (www.shuzz.org).
Thom Smith is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.