Painting The Town Red

Staff Writer
The Voice-Tribune

Becky Lamb.

A wildfire of scarlet has spread throughout the city, leaving much of Louisville ablaze in red.

Don’t run in panic just yet. The aforementioned spectacle is, in reality, the result of a clever and captivating light display created by businesses around town to increase awareness for Red Cross month and the upcoming Wrapped in Red gala, set for Saturday, March 16, at the historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel.

Leading up to the black tie – red tie encouraged – event, Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires will glow nightly in red, while the KFC Yum! Center and the Big Four Bridge will feature red exterior illumination to help promote the gala benefiting the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter community disaster relief programs. Several restaurants in the NuLu district and Fourth Street Live! have also placed large red bows on venue doors to show support for the American Red Cross. “This year I think the community support has been at a different level,” said Becky Lamb, chair of Wrapped In Red.

In its third year, the Wrapped in Red gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, featuring the crowd-favorite Redtini developed by Brown-Forman’s Chief Entertaining Officer Tim Laird. Also kicking off the festivities are an expansive silent auction, the unveiling of the Wrapped in Red Collection and a jewelry raffle
sponsored by Davis Jewelers.

“Part of what this money (from the gala) goes towards is our disaster relief programs, because just in the Kentuckiana area alone we respond to over 400 disasters a year, throughout the region that’s over 1,000, and most of those are family fires,” said Amber Youngblood, senior director of marketing and public relations for the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter. “So, when there are the large scale disasters in which people see that and see the attention that it’s getting, donations come in, but those everyday disasters that we respond to, we always need some funds to help cover the cost of that as well.”

Following Wrapped in Red’s cocktail reception, a decadent four-course dinner catered by The Seelbach will be served. During the meal, WDRB Anchor Candyce Clifft and Terry Meiners of WHAS will host a short program focusing on the services offered by the American Red Cross, with appearances by Dick Swope, board chair of the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter, and Keith Alvey, CEO of the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter.

“Subtle nuances that we provide also help showcase all the services that we do every day, whether that’s CPR and first aid, all of our services that we provide to the armed forces, to pet therapy programs where it helps the Wounded Warriors program, but also volunteers go out and visit children in hospitals,” Youngblood said. “There’s all these different things that we’re able to showcase and help promote in subtle ways and have a fun night doing it.”

Since the gala’s inception, Extraordinary Events has acted as event planner for Wrapped In Red, collaborating with Wayne Esterle of In Bloom Again to furnish stunning decor for the extravagant evening. “I think one of the things that’s been very unique about the event (is) the creative freedoms we have for this event to make it enjoyable for the guests,” said Lisa Cofer, president of Extraordinary Events. “The second thing that makes it unique is the (American Red Cross) board of directors gets behind this gala, and they push it over the top. And what they bring to the table in terms of sponsorships and (auction) items is amazing.”

The list of this year’s live auction items, in particular, is impressive, with the opportunity to bid on such commodities as a rare section of the basketball court signed by Coach John Calipari from the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and Championship Games; an exquisite dinner party hosted at the bidder’s home for seven of his or her friends and prepared by Jim Gerhardt, owner and chef of Limestone Restaurant; and a one-week stay at Casa de Cielo, a private home located in South Akumal Bay on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

After the live auction, the popular Endless Summer Band will perform for gala guests and those attending the dance-only portion of the night inside the Red Lounge. “We’re adding a different feel to where it makes (the Red Lounge) more all-inclusive, as opposed to kind of just being next to one another, that we think is going to be a nice spin,” said Youngblood.

Opening at 9 p.m., the posh Red Lounge sponsored by Donan Engineering, Republic Bank and Yum! Brands will include complimentary cocktails and desserts, and will broadcast the Big East basketball championship throughout the room. Gala attendees are afforded free admission to the Red Lounge, while tickets to the Red Lounge only are $75 in advance or $100 at the door.

Quickly becoming one of the marquee galas in Louisville, Wrapped In Red is a chance to celebrate, mingle and spend a memorable night on the town, but more importantly, honor a humanitarian organization that provides critical emergency assistance, disaster relief and so much more. “This event is the largest fundraising event that the local chapter does,” Lamb said. “So it’s an opportunity for people to really get out and donate. The support last year was really phenomenal. … That’s the kind of support that’s needed year-round.”

Wrapped in Red Gala tickets are $200; $75 in advance or $100 at the door for the Red Lounge. Only 100 tickets will be sold at $50 each for the Davis Jewelers raffle. To purchase tickets or a sponsorship, call 502.561.3691, e-mail or visit For more information on the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter, visit

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at, 502.498.2051.