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It doesn't get more entertaining than watching 86-year-old Lincoln Alexander, former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, work his mojo in a flirty exchange with Caribana gala hostess Gwyn Matthew Chapman.

While Mr. Alexander was busy charming the hostess out on the dance floor, Caribana's first kickoff gala in more than 20 years unfolded at the Liberty Grand, raising approximately $100,000 for the new Caribana Arts Foundation.

A pair of statuesque beauties welcomed revellers: The greeters, sheathed in gold and silver silk, teetered on stilts.

They stood out in a crowd remarkable for its subtle attire.

The Caribana parade might be famous for its vibrant costumes, but last Friday's gala inspired more understated looks - there was nary a sequined bustier or feathered crown in sight.

Still, the visuals didn't disappoint. A stream of female guests in glitzy gowns formed a sartorial parade through the venue. Among the best dressed was Margarett Best, the province's Minister of Health Promotion, who dazzled in a pale blue, ankle-length stunner.

Perhaps the most noticeable person in the room was basketball player Jamaal Magloire, a Toronto-born Dallas Mavericks centre who rivalled the stilt-walkers for tallest party guest. (He's 6 foot 11). A long-time Caribana devotee, he is spokesman for the junior festival and leads his own band in the parade.

As the plantains and taro-root chips in curried salsa were whisked away, Mr. Magloire admitted to a little crush on Crystal Reize, the shy, lovely woman who sang the national anthem to open the gala.

Despite his height and fame, Mr. Magloire had to work to catch her eye. Before the night was out, however, they had their picture taken together.

1. Singer Crystal Reize and Dallas Maverick Jamaal Magloire

2. Shelly John and Dexter John

3. Scotiabank's Ugo Okebugwu, left; Noha El-Shareif of Fitzgerald Analytics; Lieutenant Troy Kelly

4. Caribana's COO Eddison Doyle with his daughter, Edwina

5. Vijay Kanwar, left, and former lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander

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