January: A Month of Giving
Laugh at Winters Chill at Galas to Benefit your Neighbors
By Arthur Gonick
Once, January was the ‘off-est’ of off-seasons here in Saratoga Springs. We cocooned with our crock-pots, made do with winter sports if so inclined, and became BFF’s with our TVs. We became what we appear to the outside world: a sleepy little city in the country, and we dreamt about, longed for, and planned for the next summer season.
Well, no more.
Do to a variety of factors - including many people migrating from ‘cities that never sleep’ to Saratoga, we now have a big party nearly every week, sometimes two. In fact, you can make the case that these benefits and galas are some of the most fun on the calendar, with well-thought out themes, that benefit worthy causes – All designed to help you laugh at winter. Here are thumbnails about four upcoming events. You can’t go wrong with choosing any or all.
Saturday, January 14 - 6 to 10 p.m.
Hattie's 16th Annual Mardi Gras Benefit
Canfield Casino in Congress Park
$100 Per Person
If you want to laugh at winter, a side-trip to New Orleans is a perfect place to start. And that is what you will find when you walk into the Canfield Casino next Saturday. A local company, Fine Affairs, spares not a bead in completely transforming the historic building into the historic French Quarter.
Hattie’s Mardi Gras, now in its 16th year, pays homage to the giving spirit of the restaurant’s founder, Miss Hattie Austin Moseley. What is distinctive is that, unlike annual events that benefit one charity or another, Owners Beth and Chef Jasper Alexander spread Miss Hattie’s spirit around. Each year, a local not-for-profit social service or arts organization is chosen as beneficiary. The keyword here is LOCAL.
Consider this partial list of previous recipients: Shelters of Saratoga, Franklin Community Center, Saratoga YMCA, Saratoga Bridges, Saratoga Sponsor a Scholar, SPAC, Saratoga Hospital, Jake’s Help From Heaven.
Last year, coinciding with their 50th anniversary, SPAC, their dance programs particularly, was the designated recipient. This year it will be Caffé Lena, to assist in completing their capital campaign.
To date, Hattie’s Mardi Gras has raised well over $600,000 for these local arts organizations!
Moreover, it has established itself as an anchor on the annual social event calendar – you can mark the 2018 event on yours now – always the Saturday preceding Martin Luther King Day. It achieved that status long ago, simply because it has everything.
In addition to Fine Affairs’ movie-quality Bourbon Street backdrop, the palette is enhanced with two bands: Soul Session featuring Garland Nelson, and the Dylan Perrillo Orchestra. Chef Jasper Alexander will dazzle and delight taste buds. You can enjoy a complimentary cocktail upon arrival; vogue with your beads, masks and feathers at Heather Bahn-Tallman’s Crazy Photo Booth, and bid on a tasty array of silent auction items donated by Saratoga County businesses.
If, upon arrival at the Casino on Saturday, you notice that the snow has melted around the building – you now know why… this event is hot, Hot, HOT!
- Saturday, January 21 – 7 p.m. to midnight
A Purple Tie Affair
National Museum of Dance, 99 South Broadway
$65 per person / $120 per couple
So, you scored these cool purple beads at Hattie’s Mardi Gras and you are wondering how long you’ll have to wait till you can sport them in your outfit. The answer: exactly one week.
A Purple Tie Affair benefits two organizations: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Nick's Fight to be Healed Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. The latter foundation honors the memory of Nick Cammarata, who was a 13-year-old teen diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on the Fourth of July, 2008. On October 26, 2008, Nick lost his valiant fight against the disease.
So, you get food and drink; live music and dancing; raffles, prizes and good times galore. The dress is cocktail attire – yet within that broad category, anything goes, with an emphasis on Amethyst, Aubergine, Violet, Lavender, or any member of the Purple family as part of your get-up.
- Wednesday, January 25 – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
17th Annual Tuscan Dinner
Glen Sanders Mansion, 1 Glen Avenue, Scotia
$100 per person
Speaking for myself, there are exactly two things that would compel me to venture to the Schenectady area, on a weeknight in January:
- To go to Proctors Theater – preferably for opening night of “Hamilton” (please, please!) or…
- Anything at Glen Sanders Mansion.
There’s just something about this place. Any event is a big event there, just for the setting. A showcase jewel of the Angelo Mazzone empire, and the annual Tuscan Dinner (this year’s theme) is “Let it Snow” a perfect time to visit, or revisit a regional treasure.
On January 25, the event will celebrate the winter volunteers, individuals and businesses who make possible the Double H Ranch Adaptive Winter Sports Program.
Cuisine is part artistry, part precision. In that connection, here’s a culinary mathematical formula long established in this market:
(Mazzone + Tuscan Cuisine) = Bulls Eye
Trust me, this is a sure bet.
- Saturday, January 28 – 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
29th Annual Winter Party
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
191 Union Avenue
Tickets: $75 per person; $50 for first-timers and young professionals
Ok , numbers don't lie, and the number that stands out in my mind here is 29.
For nearly three decades, Planned Parenthood has turned out the troops. Regardless of your political beliefs, that is impressive.
I also find it intriguing that they staked out this January turf. In 1987, this was a different Saratoga.
But they made it work.
Perhaps you might consider that they wanted to build lasting support - a beacon of hope and support during the year's shortest days & darkest hours.
If so, they have done that and more.
The Racing Museum is always a great setting, not used that often - especially when there is snow on Secretariat's mane.
Arthur previews events occurring in the short-term, yet always tries to include a long-term perspective.