STARS IN BANFF SHINE A LIGHT ON KENNEDY’S CAUSE
BANFF – Hollywood glamour peaked in the mountains of Banff Saturday night when dozens of stars came out for a red carpet gala in support of the environment.
Susan Sarandon, one of the most highly anticipated guests of the night, arrived in a short, stunning cocktail dress with drop back that showed off a new tattoo. It is the Oscar winner’s first trip to Banff to support Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance.
“We’re really only here for today, so we just sort of took it easy and walked around town,” said Sarandon, as she posed for photos with longtime partner and fellow Oscar winner Tim Robbins, who attended the event last year.
“I know that everyone understands now how important it is to keep our water clean. I’ve been working with Bobby Kennedy for years. I’ve been with him and lobbied with him and I know this organization is one I can trust.”
Margaret Trudeau came to the event with an arm in a sling after separating her right shoulder in a mishap on Friday.
“I fell skiing,” she said. “I had to take it easy today.”
When asked what she was wearing, she replied: “I’m wearing anything that would fit!”
Inside the party, celebs such as Alec Baldwin, Alicia Silverstone, Kelsey Grammer, Justin Trudeau, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry sipped cocktails and got busy bidding on the silent auction to raise money for Waterkeepers, which protects water sources throughout the world.
“It is a good cause and it’s got a lot of celebrity appeal,” said Anthony Jankowski, an accountant who came with his wife, Jennifer, to celebrate her 30th birthday.
“We’re from Calgary, and in southern and central Alberta we hear a lot about a water shortage, so we thought it would be a good cause to support.”
After the cocktail hour, party-goers, who paid $500 each or $10,000 for a table with a celebrity, dined on salmon tartar and Alberta beef tenderloin. Vegetarian and vegan celebs, such as Baldwin and Silverstone, were treated to a special selection of organic offerings.
After dinner, Baldwin was expected to emcee the festivities, which included an incredible live auction. Among the items up for bidding were: a private concert by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip featuring the Sadies; a luxurious week-long whitewater rafting trip with Kennedy in Chile; and a week with Mark Messier at his home in the Bahamas.
Although celebrities were willing to share their names for the event, these activists know there’s a lot more to environmentalism than fundraising. Many are closely watching the presidential primaries with the hopes that change will come with the next White House.
“Edwards,” said Sarandon flatly when asked who she supports. “He’s the only one that’s against nuclear power and hasn’t taken lobby money.”
Edwards, who finished a distant third in Saturday’s Nevada caucus, wasn’t at the top of everyone’s list, but the Democrats certainly were. With a host named Kennedy, however, that might not be a surprise to many.
“Anybody on the Democratics’ side is going to be a lot more environmentally conscientious because it seems like they are not as beholden to big business corporations that are actually the polluters,” said Fran Drescher.
Earlier in the weekend, Kennedy announced Waterkeepers recently won a landmark court appeal that will allow Canada to bring criminal prosecutions against American companies that pollute Canadian air and water.
“These are issues that affect everybody, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat if you’re breathing air that’s causing cancer or drinking water that’s polluted,” says actor-director Chad Lowe.
This event has been running in Banff and Lake Louise for eight consecutive years, but Kennedy’s connection to Banff goes back to 1966, when he visited the mountain town with his father Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated while running for president two years later.
“I remember them going fishing at Cascade in their Cadillac convertible,” says Dave Moberg, a 40-year employee of the Banff Springs who’s known to friends, including Kennedy, as “Mo.”
“At that age, he and his brother were a little mischievous and playful. They damaged the grandfather clock in the vice-regal suite. (Kennedy) remembers and he chuckles about it. I think he thought he trashed the suite, but he didn’t.”
By press time, that appeared to be the consensus at the gala. Former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald was expected to take the stage following Baldwin’s work as emcee.
Although final numbers won’t be in until Monday, last year’s event raised $1 million for Waterkeepers.