The stage was set Saturday night for one of the biggest parties Saratoga Springs has seen in a long time: Jasper and Beth Alexander from Hattie’s, SPAC, Canfield Casino and the always fun Mardi Gras theme, not to mention a giveaway for a brand new car. Expectations were high and rightfully so, it was a record turn out for the Annual Hattie’s Mardi Gras Soiree. Guests started arriving at Canfield Casino early and were greeted by Marcia White, President and Executive Director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Beth Alexander from Hattie’s, both looking elegant in floor length gowns and event Co-Chair Julie Fuller. Honorary Chairs Michele and Ron Riggi also greeted guests, and Jasper and Beth’s daughter Zoe Alexander was on hand along with a fellow dancer to hand out beads as guests came in.
Canfield Casino was absolutely transformed by Michael Panza and Fine Affairs, who donates all of the decor every year for the event. There were stunning vibrant floor to ceiling Mardi Gras themed tapestries and the heavily stocked silent auction table also served as the platform to display the gallery of original Karinska ballet costumes on loan from New York City Ballet. Guests picked up their complimentary hurricanes and admired the beautiful costumes, including an “Emeralds” principal costume from “Jewels.” The rich, bejeweled green silks of “Emeralds,” “Rubies” and “Diamonds” were considered the most decadent and glittering explosion to take NYCB’s stage.
Founded by Hattie’s owners Jasper and Beth Alexander in 2001 as a way to support local nonprofits, the annual Mardi Gras event has raised over $250,000 for various charities since its inception including the Saratoga YMCA, Saratoga Hospital, Shelters of Saratoga and Saratoga Sponsor-a-Scholar. The beneficiary for this year was the New York City Ballet’s Summer Residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Choosing the NYCB at SPAC was something that was close to Beth Alexander’s heart, who has been a dancer since she was a child. Beth and Jasper’s daughter Zoe is also a dancer at Northeast Ballet where Beth herself is a teacher and dancer as well. Darlene Myers, the founder of Northeast Ballet, was also at the event, and provided dancers in brilliant costumes as entertainment.
People spotting was easy at Mardi Gras, and we bumped into event committee member Rebecca Beers, who was wearing an absolutely stunning red gown, one that had belonged grandmother, Eleanor Ehle. It was from the late 30’s and her father had saved it for decades for her and it fit perfectly. Heather Straughter was waiting with friends to have their picture snapped at the Heather Bohm Tallman photo booth, looking beautiful in emerald green. Committee members Traci Jersen and Melissa Zieker were there, bidding on silent auction items, and we chatted with Julie Johnson and Mayor Scott Johnson. Also spotted were Brien and Cindy Hollowood, Skip and Colleen Carlson, Tommy and Rachel Uccellini, Shane Williams-Ness, the Chief Marketing & Development Officer at SPAC, Linda Passaretti, Director of Development at SPAC, Natalie Sillery from Saratoga Trunk, committee member Mary Gavin who worked hard at putting together the knock out silent auction, Rick Partyka, Heather Varney, Terry Lee, Stephanie Collins, Kimberly Burton, Natalie and Charles Wait, Jr., Linda Toohey, Susan and Jeffrey Halstead, Heather Kisselback, and Gloria Ford, Angelo and Kate Calbone, and committee member Amy Cantanucci.
Garland Nelson and Soul Session took the stage in front of a bold Mardi Gras backdrop and kicked things up a notch as guests sampled the always delicious fare put on by Jasper Alexander and Hattie’s, including a very popular raw bar. Every table was full and the dance floor saw some action as the crowd really got into the New Orleans spirit. Dancers from Northeast Ballet also entertained guests, as the excitement built for the raffle of the 2 year lease on the brand new Toyota Prius, generously donated by New Country Motor Car. Tickets for the raffle were being sold right up to the last minute and it was surely one of the most exciting parts of the evening.
We spoke to Beth after the event and she couldn’t have been happier with how it all turned out. “Jasper and I are thrilled at what Mardi Gras has evolved into…we started this in the restaurant 12 years ago and now it has become a major fundraiser, plus we had a record number of attendees this year! People seem to really love this party. I’m especially thankful to Michael Panza and Fine Affairs who donate all the decor every year for this event.”
Everyone at SPAC also worked very hard to make the event a success, and were overjoyed with the results. “We are quite overwhelmed by the generosity of last Saturday’s benefit for SPAC and New York City Ballet’s summer residency. We couldn’t be more grateful to Hattie’s, Beth and Jasper Alexander and Beth and Julie Fuller’s 22 person AMAZING committee. Mary Gavin is a master Silent Auction manager, New Country’s donation of the car is incredibly overwhelming–a first– and Ron and Michele Riggi, as always are an inspiration. It felt like the whole community came out to support this historic residency. Our hearts are full.”