By Chuck Bennett
Photos by Martin LeFlore
The North American International Auto Show’s Charity Preview delivered in magnificent style Friday night. More than 13,000 guests, dressed in their most spectacular black-tie attire, filled Cobo Center for a firsthand look at one of the country’s most highly anticipated auto shows.
Tickets to the event were $400, benefiting eight children’s charities — Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan; Boys Hope Girls Hope Detroit; the Children’s Center; The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation; Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund; Detroit PAL; the Judson Center; and the March of Dimes Metro Detroit. More than $5 million was raised.
Many say the mood and the attire were subdued and muted this year, while others insist that this was one of the best years ever. Affectionately called the “Auto Prom,” on this night, downtown Detroit becomes aglow from all the glittering excitement and activity. Like a high school prom, the main event is dotted with a multitude of outside doings — restaurants, pre-parties and after parties.
AFTER 9, the NAIAS’ official Charity Preview after-party at Cobo Center, allowed guests to stay inside and rock the night away with performances by Motown’s very own The Four Tops and a returning favorite, Your Generation In Concert.
Nearby, auto design legend Ed Welburn and brand/marketing specialist Jessie Elliott hosted a spectacular after party, featuring fabulous food from Zak Yatim (from Eatori Market), dancing (music by Andre Terrell) and cocktails. The venue is Welburn’s office, a stylishly refurbished fire station, featuring some of his special cars and awards on display.
“We wanted to celebrate Auto Prom with our friends and colleagues, but we also wanted to bring attention to the plight of wounded veterans,” explains Elliott. “Something Ed and I are very passionate about.”
Among the guests were Chris and Jennifer Granger (he’s the newly appointed president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings); Vivian Pickard; Don Manvel; Bob Kaiser; Sonna Johns; auto designer Ralph Gilles and his wife, Doris; Fox 2’s Charlie Langton; and the team from 98.7’s Rat & Puff show, to mention a few.