Phipps’ Adieu to Tropical Forest Live Exhibit

By Premlata Venkataraman


The annual Phipps’ Wines Under the Glass gala in the fall bid goodbye to the 3-year old Tropical Forest India live exhibit. While tending these foreign plants with love and care through three harsh Pittsburgh winters, the exhibit was seen by one million visitors.

On October 30, close to Halloween people gathered to celebrate this event with colorful masks. Many guests were in their colorful saris and lehngas. A choice list of wines and cocktails too was there to go with specially catered food to reflect the theme of the evening.
Krishna and Om Sharma were the Event Chairs, with Alina and Joseph Massaro as Honorary Event Chairs, and  Joan and Robert Peirce as Honorary Host Committee Chairs.

Live entertainment with music was part of the gala. Ruby Jain’s Kathak and Bollywood dance items complemented the India theme.


The evening also honored Richard V. Piacentini’s twenty years as the Executive Director of Phipps. A slide presentation highlighted his valuable contributions. Phipps also honored Krishna and Om Sharma for being hosts for the evening.

Dr. Surinder Bajwa and his wife Jagdeep of Fox Chapel were effusive with their Phipps experience: “We’re very pleased with the Indian Exhibit. We came here a few times to enjoy the tropical ambience. We’re now members of Phipps. We bring our books to sit and read in this verdant and peaceful surrounding.”

Dr. Ritu Thamman, Member, Board of Trustees at Phipps, was sad the exhibition is coming to an end. “I learnt so much from visiting and volunteering here. I am nostalgic every time I see signs in Hindi. It was particularly wonderful to bring children to the exhibit,” she said.
Shubha Mullick of Fox Chapel was all praise for Ben Dunigan and Jordyn Melino, curators at Phipps, for their countless hours in maintaining the plants. “The Indian American community in Pittsburgh should get more involved in projects like these to give back to the community.”     ♦                          

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