The Saratoga Casino and Raceway hosted nearly 1,000 Saratogians last Wednesday evening, as the biggest party of the summer got underway under the tents on the Polo Meadows at the 33rd Annual Summer Gala. The space was brilliantly transformed by Fine Affairs and Michael Panza into a country club gone mad for the Caddyshack theme and was awash in pink and green argyle.
Guests arrived and were greeted by Hospital Foundation Executive Director Amy Raimo and the Gala’s Co-Chairs Chelsea Silver and Robin Dalton, before being treated to the evening’s signature drinks, three delicious variations on the John Daly (that’s an Arnold Palmer with Ketel One, for the non-golfers).
The Summer Gala is known for its jaw dropping auctions and several of the larger live auction items were set up along the tent on the way into the party including the gorgeous ‘Swing of Fire’, a pergola with three swinging benches, a stone patio and fire pit, custom constructed by Teakwood Builders, a beautiful Adirondack Guide Boat and Lifestyles of Saratoga’s Mobile Boutique, which was donating 100 percent of their net proceeds to the Hospital. Equally impressive was the incredible array of locally grown food, expertly prepared and served by Executive Chef Shawn Nash and Food & Beverage Director Jennie Jerkiewicz.
Some of us will admit we bee lined straight to the dessert tables, after seeing the sea of cupcakes with mini-golf greens and flags on top of them, and fondant gophers jumping through the grass. Somehow despite the huge number of people in attendance, the party had an atmosphere of old friends catching up, perhaps just a reflection of the huge cross section of the community that comes out every year to support Saratoga Hospital and the Saratoga Community Health Center.
Maureen and Ed Lewi, Mike and Marlene Okby, Amy and Rod Sutton, Jim LaVigne and Mary Gavin, Terry Lee and Dave Povero and Joe and Gloria Dalton were all in attendance, as were some newer faces including McGregor Links Country owner Blake Crocitto and fiancee Jenn Albano, who were sitting with Saratoga National Pro Anders Mattson and his wife Janice. We spotted both the Bouchey men Steve and Ryan, along with Jamie and Rebecca Lawrence, Katie and Josh Nemer, Allison and David Meyers and Mara King who looked gorgeous in a blush fit and flare dress and was seen chatting with Mary Gatzmeyer, fresh in town from Italy.
Honorary Chairpersons Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson arrived, with Whitney looking radiant in pale pink silk and pearls and people took their seats as the live auction began. For almost the next hour and a half, attendees were treated to one of the most exciting live auctions that we can recall of any gala in several seasons.
There were several spontaneous donations, including one for tickets to the U.S. Open from Earl Mack, Steve Conklin decided to offer not one, but two of his Extreme Bucket List Adventures and even two trips to the Masters were sold. Susan DePaula snatched up a parking spot at The Saratogian for the year, Foundation Board Chairman Frank Messa will be enjoying a VIP package to see the Yankees play and we hope we’re on the invitation list when Mike and Linda Toohey start planning their party at The Lodge.
Guests held their breath as the bidding on Tom and Kristie Roohan’s box for Travers Day went higher and higher, finally selling for staggering $11,000 and it is hard to believe the bidding would keep going up and up. But everyone in the tent last Wednesday was on their feet applauding when Whitney and Hendrickson’s live auction donation, a private jet to the Kentucky Derby to watch the race in the Whitney Box, sold for over $50,000. What the audience was not expecting, was for Whitney and Hendrickson to then make an additional gift of $50,000 on the spot. The incredible generosity of our community and the spirit that took over the Polo Meadow last week, coupled with a powerhouse committee and Hospital superstars Rachel Wheatley, Amy Raimo, Ann Carroll and Klare Ingram, together netted $380,000 for the Community Center, the third highest total in the Gala’s 33 year history.