New York luminaries gather at Al Smith Dinner to raise money for children, the poor

The annual Alfred E. Smith Foundation Dinner was held Wednesday evening at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The event is a must-attend for the major luminaries of politics, finance and the church. It raises millions of dollars for programs to help children and the poor.

The dinner is usually held at the end of October, but this year, it was moved to accommodate Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will be in Rome to attend the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family. Broadcaster Charlie Rose was the keynote speaker. 

Any major figure in the news is fair game for the jokes that fly throughout the evening. For example, according to the New York Daily News:

Billionaire Ken Langone saw Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on the dais at the annual Al Smith dinner, but charged the real top cop was nowhere to be found.

"I don't see the person in charge of the NYPD up here tonight -- Al Sharpton," he cracked in the most pointed zinger at the annual dinner, which draws a host of city luminaries including Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo who subject themselves to a ribbing to raise cash for Catholic Charities.

Bratton, seated behind the Home Depot founder on the dais full of notables in white ties and tales, greeted the joke with a hearty laugh. ...

De Blasio was roundly mocked for losing his grip on groundhog "Staten Island Chuck," a fumble that may have contributed to the animal's death a week later.

"Having the mayor here tonight means one thing -- the city's groundhogs are safe," said emcee Alfred Smith IV, great grandson of the dinner's namesake former governor. "By the way, this never would have happened to Mayor Bloomberg -- the groundhog wouldn't have fallen far."

Does Chicago have an equivalent dinner? If not, perhaps the arrival of Archbishop Blase Cupich will be a catalyst for organizing such an event.

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