Jimmy Rollins Foundation Havana Nights at Constitution Center


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1st Annual Jimmy Rollins Havana Nights - Nov. 14, 2011


The 1st Annual Jimmy Rollins Foundation Havana Nights, at the National Constitution Center, was a smashing success. Selling out its tickets to the public a couple of days in advance, as well as all of its corporate tables, the place was packed with Phillies and other A-list local celebrities. Phillies Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Hunter Pence, manager Charlie Manual, president David Montgomery, and PR director/MC Scott Palmer, attended, among others.

It was exactly what the initial press release said it would be:



"The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation has partnered with Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar to host Havana Nights at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Monday, November 14, 2011, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

Havana Nights is a Cuban-themed fundraising gala with chic ambiance. The evening will be a culinary experience highlighting dishes from Cuba Libre Restaurant paired with rum, Mojitos and premier wine, and will feature a Cuban Salsa Band, dancing and other entertainment. Auction items will be available for bidding.

The event will be celebrity-driven, as Jimmy will invite his friends from MLB, the NFL, NBA and NHL, along with musicians, actors and television personalities to attend. These celebrities will join our key sponsors in a private VIP area that features cigar cutting and rum tastings.

Proceeds from Havana Nights will benefit Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania with sponsorships ranging from $25,000.00 - $5,000.00 and individual tickets $300.00 each." The hosts for the event were Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and his wife, Johari. Rollins was decked out for for the occasion in a white linen suit, complete with fedora, with Johari in a red dress. "We've been blessed with the success of our baseBOWL tournament over the last few years and thought it would be fun to add a second event with a bit of flavor to it," said Jimmy Rollins.

"Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania is a cause that Jimmy and I have been talking about for quite awhile," said Johari Rollins. "To put on a brand new event that will raise awareness and benefit such a worthy organization is very exciting for both of us and we're looking forward to a fun filled evening."


We have had the good fortune to cover many events at the Constitution Center, ranging from presidential candidate debates to author forums. But this event was really a night for the ages.

The entire second floor of the building was essentially converted into Little Havana, complete with cabanas, palm trees, Latin music, rum bars, and the like. The entertainment was first-rate, as the Latin salsa band StarQuest mixed up its Latin music, with dance classics and contemporary radio hits.

But upon our arrival at the Constitution Center, the biggest surprise was the one that they didn’t put in the press release! Namely, that two of the professional performers from ABC’s megahit - Dancing with the Stars - Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Dariya Chesnokova – would be performing live at Havana Nights. (Valentin’s often-outspoken brother, Maxsim Chmerkovskiy, had been in a well-publicized confrontation with judge Len Goodman, a couple of weeks ago.)

It was truly very surreal, that on a typical Monday night, when many Americans would be home watching Dancing with the Stars (which routinely places in the top 5, and occasionally as the #1 show for the week), that we had the opportunity to see the performers, not only live, but only a few feet in front of us. If you think it looks great on TV, you should see it performed live! These professional dancers are nothing short of phenomenal. We tried to take photos, but it was difficult because of the lightning-quick foot speed and choreography of the dancers! Their tremendous talent is even more impressive when you’re seeing it in person…

They performed three times, also. (On one instance, they offered brave guests the chance to dance with them, which led to one of them attempting to dip Dariya Chesnokova and nearly dropping her – but all’s well that ends well.)

We were seated, watching the performance, from the angle which permits you to see Independence Hall through the big picture window. It simply contributed to the surreality of the night: sitting in the Constitution Center, instantaneously transformed into Havana, with Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies scattered around, with the pro performers from Dancing with the Stars on the floor, with Independence Hall in the background. It was simply an unforgettable experience.


The Live Auction – The Big Five Items

Fiesta Cubana Con Phillies!

An opportunity for you and five guests to dine at Cuba Libre with Rollins, Victorino, and Utley.

Signed Original Oil Painting, The Regulators

An original oil painting of five Phillies, Rollins, Howard, Hamels, Halladay, Lee, and Utley, by local artist Seth Mushrush. (During the live auction, Mushrush was hoisting the painting aloft like Rocky Balboa, which couldn’t have been easy with a 36x60 oil painting.)

Calibre de Cartier watch, engraved with Rollins’ signature

Vacation in Maui

Several nights at the Maui Four Seasons, horseback riding, top-of-the-line restaurant meals, and two rounds of golf at an elite golf course.

Unforgettable Dancing with the Stars Package

Having received a taste of Dancing with the Stars live-

this item entitled the bidder to round-trip airfare from Philadelphia to LA, three nights at the Ritz-Carlton, a meal at Morton’s Steakhouse, and tickets to the hit show.


After the Live Auction

The band StarQuest resumed their performances. Most significantly, they mixed up the Latino beats with, among other things, a Lady Gaga medley with Bad Romance, and finishing the night with the 1980s uber-popular (and with good reason!) crowd pleaser, “Don’t Stop Believin’ “, by Journey. (Even Scott Palmer got in on the fun on the dance floor, doing the salsa!)


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