Hattie’s Annual Mardi Gras Raises $94,878.86 for AIM Services, Inc.!
Colorful Flamboyance Vanquishes a Dreary Winter
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Purples, yellows, greens… masks gently yet deliberately hiding features; feathers standing elegantly and proudly, staring down at shades of blonde, brown, black; delicate wings clinging to elastic bands, where in a world of adult make-believe they give flight to their wearer; beads dangling playfully from necks, long and short and in-between sizes.
A face turned upward, glancing joyfully at a friend; a head thrown back, its wide open mouth releasing laughs from deep within the belly.
Ties wrapped around masculine necks, a dash of color against a sea of white. Red, gold, green, black, grey, blue dresses conforming to the shapes of women, hugging and accentuating curvy lines.
A flash, capturing each and every tiny moment for eternity, or for as long as digital images survive.
(Photo: Heather Bohm-Tallman –HBTphoto.com)
Bare-faced and winged, I throw a pink-clothed and heeled leg over the arms of my blogging partners. Beaded Mandy Mittler and top-hat-decorated Lisa Champagne support its weight, props in what we all know and love as Hattie’s Mardi Gras, a benefit to raise money for AIM Services.
Deep smiles and encouraging words accessorize Heather Bohm-Tallman’s party wear as she expertly snaps photos of fun-loving attendees.
Each room in the Canfield Casino a separate stage: a cash bar, drinks flowing; gift-laden tables filled with spoils from the silent auction, humming to the jazz tunes of The Dylan Perillo Orchestra; so much yum, courtesy of Hattie’s Restaurant, spread out for foodies and the just plain hungry to devour; Soul Session, pumping out entirely danceable tunes; and hundreds of bodies from Saratoga and beyond colorfully dressed, grateful for an excuse to escape cabin fever.
As a Saratoga society reporter, now with saratoga.com, I am honored to donate my writing and attend dozens of charity events with my blogging partners and our fearless leader, Arthur Gonick. We each play a pivotal role in the production, mine to facilitate the transformation of words into painted pictures describing the ambience of each event. Sometimes, it’s difficult to differentiate one gala from another. Pretty decor, yummy foods, open bar, pretty dresses, and a dance floor are all standard.
But Hattie’s Mardi Gras, with its colorful flamboyance in the middle of a dreary winter; with its playful homage to the festive and indulgent carnival that marks the beginning of the sacrificial lent; with its generosity toward AIM services; with its namesake – and the dispenser of grand beneficiary, Saratoga’s own beloved New Orleans-style Hattie’s restaurant… Hattie’s Mardi Gras is deserving of a special nod, a free set of beads, the baby in the King Cake, a peek under the mask as it rescues us all from the doldrums of winter and transports us directly into the throes… of Bourbon Street.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Hattie’s 19th Annual Mardi Gras Soirée was a fabulous success! Mother Nature herself couldn’t deter close to 400 guests who braved the cold (even by upstate NY standards) who came out to celebrate + support this year’s beneficiary – AIM Services, Inc.
Valet parking more than appreciated on this night! As my friend + blogging teammate Mandy Mittler and I made our way into the event, we were welcomed with warm temperatures + Southern hospitality. The historic Canfield Casino was transformed into the “Big Easy”- a more refined + subdued version of Bourbon Street, if you will. But the energy and spirit of Mardi Gras was captured!
Moving through the crowd… thick. Mandy and I stopped to grab a Tito’s Mardi Gras Mule, the “signature” drink of the evening. We entered the parlor, a server stopped and offered us a passed hors d’oeuvre, the first of many bite sized delights that made my mouth water. The sounds of Dixieland played by the Dylan Perillo Orchestra got everyone in the swing of things, and guests formed a line to receive a free tarot card reading from Psychic Mary.
And it seems the stars may have aligned for Mandy!
The cards showed she may have some pretty good luck coming her way in the near future (GO girl!!) but I don’t think even Mary’s crystal ball could have predicted the overwhelming support AIM Services would receive on this chilly January evening!
AIMs Services, Inc. is a not-for profit organization that provides residential and community-based services to people with disabilities, including those with traumatic brain injuries and those looking for nursing home transition or diversion. The organization was formed in 1979. They provide services in Saratoga, Warren, Washington County and beyond.
Chris Lyons, Senior Director and Counsel for AIM services said, “It’s all about our mission. I’m very passionate about what we do and what people have accomplished through the support of this organization…” AIMs mission is dedicated to supporting the “power of potential” in people of diverse abilities through community based services, advocacy and education. They are focused on supporting challenged individuals in achieving their personal goals while promoting a sense of self-confidence and independence. (Check out their site for more info or to make a donation Here.)
Partial proceeds from tonight’s ticket sales, the silent auctions, as well as event sponsorship (from Hattie’s as well as Tom and Beth Flynn, Independent Support Services, Inc., CDPHP, The D.A. Collins Companies, MVP Healthcare, Enterprise Fleet Mgmt., Wilcenski + Pleat PLLC, etc.) will support this fantastic organization!
We’re just getting started.
Guests made their way into the ballroom where full-tilt Mardi Gras was in effect!
Silk, gold colored fabric draped the casino and multi colored masks, beads, + floral arrangements added to the ambiance. Dinner was a grand buffet of Creole cuisine and authentic New Orleans style dishes soulfully prepared by Hattie’s. The taste was tantalizing and rivaled some of the best dishes I’ve experienced in the French Quarter! Jambalaya, grits, ribs, gumbo, red beans, shrimp sliders and a fantastic raw bar.
My blogging buddies joined other party-goers on the dance floor, and enjoyed the live performance by Garland Nelson + Soul Session. The end to a wonderful evening!
Posted by Lisa Champagne on Sunday, January 14, 2018
Yes, Hattie’s Annual Mardi Gras Soirée was a grand success!
As usual, check out some of my favorite frocks from last night’s event, including my VERY favorite worn by Hattie’s co-owner Beth Alexander:
Photo: Heather Bohm-Tallman –HBTphoto.com
IN PRAISE OF POULTRY
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Yes, a lot of celebrants again this year, and much to celebrate – including a whopping $94,878.86 raised for AIM Services, Inc.
The storied history of Hattie’s (available in greater detail at Hattie’s Website) has certainly added a big chapter – an era, actually – under the ownership of Beth and Jasper Alexander. It’s a tricky task to remain faithful to traditions while building upon them in new ways, with the Mardi Gras as both centerpiece and exemplar.
I recall that two decades or so ago, the newly-minted owners of Hattie’s stopped by to do a meet-and-greet on a community radio show I had with my partner-in-crime Rocky Groce. It was laughable at the time, even more so in retrospect that the #1 question people asked Jasper and Beth was “Are you going to keep fried chicken on the menu?”
(As if they bought the name because it might be a good one for a yogurt shop or something. Sigh…)
Well, many thousands of wings, breasts, thighs and drums later- many helping hands as well – the 2018 Hattie’s Mardi Gras drew hundreds of attendees – so many revelers enjoying the whoop-de-doop that quite a few were out of earshot when Beth made the announcement that next year’s Mardi Gras – which will benefit Jake’s Help From Heaven one mo’ time – will be the last one. A shock to some.
From my perspective, I was shocked into nostalgia mode. Which gave me the space to think back to a time before Bon Appetit, Bobby Flay, a Cookbook and the Hattio. The Mardi Gras is only one of a virtual arsenal of innovations by Beth and Jasper. A big gila monster of one, to be sure – but just one.
In recent years, through the aforementioned cookbook, a satellite location that expanded catering, global multi-media attention and acclaim, they have taken on a more ambassadorial function – showing off the fact in Saratoga Springs our chickens cluck just as loud, and just as proud as y’all in Memphis or Mississippi, thank you very kindly – at fried chicken festivals and expos throughout our land.
All this, it must be said, happens with a rather small but mighty, remarkably good-looking staff that are Hall of Fame good vibes dispensers:
When you read a book, you finish one chapter to start the next one. I’m excitedly anticipating the next avenues of creativity from Hattie’s – with the same faithfulness to their history as before.
In that connection, I will hazard two predictions:
1) As always, if you need a Helping Hand, Hattie’s will be there, just like…
2)… there will be wings, breasts, thighs and drums – ready to be “dredged and dropped” for you at Hattie’s – the next time the screen door slams behind you as you enter.
January 19, 2018