Toast to the Coast



By Judy Carmack Bross




Chuck Didrickson, Loletta Didrickson, Alderman Brian Hopkins, Abby Funk


Board members Terry Muldoon and Victoria Bilter.


“It’s Delightful, It’s Delovely”—Cole Porter.


Porchlight Music Theatre captured the fizz of Cole Porter for summer spirited guests at the Gold Coast Neighbors Association (GCNA) annual “Toast to the Coast”, once again showing why the entertainers are Chicago’s showcase for style. Almost 200 guests attended the fundraiser at a private club Cole would have termed “delovely.” The Toast raises significant funds to support GCNA’s educational, preservation and safety efforts.


Porchlight singers Emma Ogea and Devlin De Santis


Carla Walker welcomes guests.


Celebrating the neighborhood’s pride and focus on history, preservation and safety that the GCNA community exemplifies, the evening featured a live auction of glamorous getaways, a intimate dinner at the Astor Club, and luxury items, but most of all celebrated the fun of getting to know your neighbors better. Welcoming the ballroom full of friends, Board and Toast Committee member Carla Walker called attention to the evening’s logo of toasting champagne glasses, making a toast saying that all were advocates for the community and all were so fortunate to have the lakefront in common. Amy Lemar serves as President of GCNA which has over 600 members.


GCNA Board Member Janice Corley


Vern Broders served as Toast to the Coast Committee Chair, with committee members Stacie Adkisson, Francia Harrington, Gerry Himmel, Amy Lemar, Dorothy Nelson, Melissa Rickey and Carla Walker.


Vern Broders, Toast to the Coast Committee Chair.


Broders told us:


“Toast to the Coast” is the way that the GCNA’s members and board show their support for our organization and our neighborhood, which we enjoy and are proud of. We toast our GCNA organization for all that it does to keep our neighborhood such a special place. We influence decisions on ensuring safety, historic preservation, rational zoning, and continued beautification, and we have a strong voice with our elected officials and police. We do all of this because we know that great neighbors can band together to achieve these goals.”


Auctioneer Jeff Brown



Jeff Brown led a spirited paddle raise for the restricted safety and technology fund and the Live Auction, featuring farmhouse luxury in the Napa Vineyards, Nashville “Unplugged” and a stay in Jackson Hole with visits to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as well as gold dust delights closer to home.

Founded in 1957 as the North State Astor Association, it expanded its boundaries in 1962 and again in the 1980s. Since 1982, their September “Evening on Astor” picnic on Astor between Banks and Goethe streets has welcomed neighbors with music and magic, balloons, bands and gumdrops, and there’s plenty of dancing in the streets. This year’s “Evening on Astor” will be September 4, always the Wednesday after Labor Day.

In 1996, longtime board member Betty Zeni inaugurated a spring benefit called “Echoes”, now the “Toast to the Coast”.


GCNA Board Member Cyndy Velazquez with a guest


This week GCNA brought back “Rooftop Tales, the highly popular history programs that presents a tour of important neighborhood buildings from a high-rise roof. “This committee is also exploring doing a tour of neighborhood restaurants/bars to discuss their interesting histories,” Dorothy Nelson told us. “ We are activating children’s programing in Goudy Park: a new and exciting endeavor of the GCNA.”


Dorothy Nelson and Francia Harrington, Toast to the Coast Committee members.


Dorothy Nelson told us a little about more GCNA’s events:


“We hold ‘First Tuesdays’ most months at the bar at the Ambassador Chicago Hotel which is an opportunity at cocktail hour to get to know neighbors. Special drinks are offered at a discount and complimentary hors d’oeuvres are served. We have new member’s events a couple of times a year. ‘Safety Walks and Talks’ are held periodically with a local police official as well as ward walks with 43th Ward Alderman Timmy Knudsen. In addition, beautification events, such as clean-up efforts at Lincoln Park and Goudy Park, organized and led by GCNA, especially during Earth Day and Mulch-athon, and sometimes just because trees need a little love.


“We offer co-sponsored events to benefit our Gold Coast Community, such as: ‘Get Behind the Vest’ program, co-sponsored with Mario’s Table, Alderman Hopkins, Amy Lemar, and Committeeman Tim Egan, to fund the purchase of vests for our police officers. “Joy of Toys”, is an annual program, co-sponsored with the North Dearborn Association, to provide toys, mittens, and hats at Christmas for children  at two schools.”


Porchlight Performer Frankie Leo Bennett


Photo Credit: Anna Munzesheimer


For more information about GCNA please visit: