Having a ball on the lawn

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Derek Storie took part in the 1930s-themed Lawn Bowling Nights event for Cystic Fibrosis held at the Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Photo by Caroline Phillips

If you thought lawn bowling was just for old fogeys, you should have seen the dozens of young professionals out at the Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club on Wednesday.

Former Parliament Hill staffer Meredith Taylor, who now works as a lobbyist for Environics Communications, has led the way in bringing Lawn Summer Nights to the nation’s capital. The event is being held every Wednesday in July and is raising thousands of dollars for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Hill staffers of all political stripes were out mixing with other young hipsters, many dressed in 1930s attire as if sprung from the pages of The Great Gatsby. “I’m sure you’ve heard of the Ottawa bubble, where you meet the same people, go to the same places and do the same things,” said Taylor. “I don’t think this could be any more different.”

The scene was very social as beer-drinking players relaxed to the sounds of jazz while taking turns bowling their little black balls on the greens.

Lawn Summer Nights began as a tribute to an inspiring young woman, Eva Markvoort, 25, of New Westminster, B.C. She died from cystic fibrosis in 2010. Her friends organized the lawn bowling after discovering in Australia how popular the game was with the cool kids down under. It also takes place in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and London, Ont.

“It’s more difficult then I thought it would be,” first-time player Alyx Holland, looking so vintage in her sunglasses and head scarf, said of the game. “It’s a lot of fun, though.”

Passing the baton at the NAC

If the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s maestro ever calls in sick, it’s nice to know Peter Herrndorf has the right tool to step in.

Cheekiness aside, the chief executive of our country’s largest performing arts centre has received the baton that was used in the final concert led by Mario Bernardi, founding conductor of the NAC Orchestra. He passed away last month at age 82.

Bernardi’s last gig in 2009 had been Mozart’s Italian opera Così fan tutte with students of the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music.

The cherished gift was presented Monday by his widow, Mona Kelly. She was in town from Toronto with daughter Julia Purdy, son-in-law Sandy and grandsons Thomas, 11, and Matthew, eight, for the unveiling of a bronze bust of Bernardi in the NAC foyer.

Being back in Ottawa was like “going down memory lane” for Kelly, who attended the donors reception on the terrace, after the NAC’s free Canada Day concerts. “I’m very pleased with what I see,” she added. “The town is in great shape.”

The maestro’s baton means Herrndorf has something else in common with the legendary and late Hamilton Southam, founding director of the NAC.

“I was deeply touched by Mona’s gesture in giving me Mario’s baton from his last performance, particularly since he gave the baton from his first NAC concert in 1969 to my friend and mentor Hamilton Southam,” Herrndorf later told Around Town.

The crowd, which took in the fireworks, included reception sponsors Michael Mrak and his sister Liza Mrak from Mark Motors as well as NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson and NAC Orchestra associate concertmaster Jessica Linnebach. The violinist had already swapped her concert heels for more sensible footwear. “I’m ‘preggo’, so I’m allowed to wear flat shoes,” joked Linnebach, who’s expecting in early November.

Red, white and 30 years of the Westin

Red and white ruled the Canada Day bash hosted Monday by The Westin, but not without flashes of pastel and neon as a fashion homage to the hotel’s 30th anniversary.

The Ottawa hotel opened in 1983, one year before Miami Vice hit the airwaves. Westin GM John Jarvis tapped into his inner Don Johnson, sporting shoes without socks, white blazer with sleeves rolled and dark shades hung from the neck of his baby blue T-shirt.

He greeted nearly 400 clients at the entrance of the Governor General Ballroom. That was about as formal as the party got. The crowd socialized over drinks, food and live music before heading to the top for fireworks enjoyed with champagne, oysters and prawns. TV personality Lianne Laing was up there with her husband as well as their two young daughters, who took in their first fireworks in Ottawa from one of the best spots. Then it was back to the ballroom for dessert, set against the bright lights of the big city. A few lucky guests left with prizes, including an Air Canada trip.

Birthdays aside, there was another fete-worthy cause: the hotel won Westin Hotel of the Year 2012 while Jarvis was named Chief Sales Officer of the Year by parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Style Magazine writer Justyna Baraniecki found herself a frock by ’80s designer Albert Nipon while Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s partner, Randi Hansen, proved she isn’t fashion fickle by donning an outfit she’s hung on to since the 1980s. Makeup artist Noah Venkatarangam went with Lego-covered lapels inspired by his toy of choice back in the ’80s.

Celebrating 10 years with a bunch of Fools

A vacationing Mayor Jim Watson still managed to make an appearance of sorts at the opening of A Company of Fools’ 10th anniversary season of Torchlight Shakespeare.

Mind you, he was the size of a jujube. Watson was in a YouTube video played from a smart phone to a 200-person audience at Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill.

The Fools’ artistic director, Scott Florence, and his colleague, Al Connors, previously paid a humorous visit to the mayor’s office to record Watson as he proclaimed July 3rd to be A Company of Fools Day in Ottawa. The video ends with the Fools slipping the mayor a brown envelope containing their bribe offer: a butter tart.

The Fools are performing 40 outdoor shows of The Merry Wives of Windsor at various parks until Aug. 17. The pay-what-you-can plays are meant to be a fun, innovative and accessible way for people of all ages to enjoy the works of William Shakespeare.

Among the supporters is the Ontario Arts Council. It was represented at the launch by board member Harvey Slack, who got a kick out of being back in his childhood park.

Around Town returns Aug. 26.

Connect with Caroline Phillips |carolyn001@sympatico.ca