SPAC Junior Committee Leaves No Sea Shell Unturned!
A New Reality Emerges
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Pink tipped toes peek out from under a silver strap, playing hide and seek under the green velour fabric. One foot cautiously in front of the other as I wander in circles, my fingers reaching out as I try to make contact with the creatures swimming around me. Candle-lit fish, sleek floating turtles and big mouthed guppies, just escaping my reach as they travel in and out of their own hiding places. Like enchanted, ancient castles, slabs of coral claim ownership of the ground they occupy. This underwater haven, a refuge for the sea creatures I try so foolishly to graze with outstretched fingertips.
Two of my besties, Mandy Mittler and Katie MacDougall, wait for their turn from outside my virtual fishbowl. Oversized black goggles wrapped around our heads head grant each of us sole, momentary entrance into this private universe.
Two and a half minutes later, my virtual world goes dark. My fingers reach up to grab at the glasses, a new reality emerging as I pull them away from my eyes. The familiar faces of my friends appear.
Together, we rejoin the hundreds of others gathered here at the Hall of Springs for a Journey Under the Sea, the theme of tonight’s SPAC Winter Gala, the virtual reality goggles part of tonight’s entertainment.
Majestic and grand in its own right, this historical Saratoga landmark takes on an enchanted, fairy tale glow this evening. The dazzling crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling seem to sparkle in greens and blues, reflections of this creatively decorated space.
Just inside the oversized ballroom, Heather Bohm-Tallman snaps photos, her subjects holding blow-up dolphins and wrapped in stuffed orange octopuses. Katie, Mandy and I playfully wear crowns and pose with plastic fish, our own photo now a souvenir of our evening.
We patiently wait for a signature cocktail, then pick at the light buffet of salads, sandwiches and casseroles, mysteriously but noticeably void of the seafood that may have played well during a journey under the sea.
The dance floor is never empty. Most gowns are well thought-out and beautifully coordinated with tonight’s Atlantis theme in shades of blues and greens. Members of SPAC’s junior committee fill in the crowd, a noticeably attractive addition to seemingly regular ticket holders. They’re also our most gracious hosts for the event.
It’s a night out to benefit a worthy cause, the arts, and Saratoga’s Performing Arts Center’s outreach and education programs. Filled with beauty and entertainment, it brings March in like the proverbial lion… ummm, SEA lion, in this case. Definitely an event worthy of adding to your gala bucket list.
Photo Interlude One:
No Sea Shell Left Unturned
SARATOGA SPRINGS – They saved the biggest surprise for the end.
Despite all the wonder that I had experienced from the four-hour journey at the Winter Ball, my favorite moment came as I went out to retrieve my jacket from the coat check.
This foodie had no idea that, outside The Hall of Springs in the frigid winds, for the past 30 minutes were several wonderful BBQ-ers who were preparing delicious sliders and other treats – just for me! (well maybe a few hundred more like me…)
A self-serve late night munchie table contained perfectly planned red-and-white checkered paper carriers. Upon which finger food sized buns, hamburgers and cheeseburgers sat teasingly in silver chafing dishes, the air caressed by the delicious aroma of Golden French Fries.
Accompaniments aplenty! Pickles, coleslaw, tomatoes, spicy mustard. More.
So, my Uber driver and my coat had to wait a few more minutes, but here’s a tip: When you slide your driver a slider at 11 pm – all will be forgiven.
So now, let’s journey back to the beginning of my night.
After being greeted by King Triton and his mermaid love, I stepped into the grand ballroom, and to my delight my journey under the sea began with a Winter Ball signature cocktail.
This electric blue concoction was the perfect proportion of Pick Six vodka, blue Curacao and lemonade.
This drink was sweet and sour at the same time and went down way too easily. As I went to place what I thought was my empty glass on the bar, I noticed 2 Swedish fish swimming in the remaining ice cubes. Sweet!
It showed how remarkably SPAC’s Junior Committee tied in their ‘Journey under the Sea’ theme into every morsel and sip.
The buffet’s banquet tables were sprinkled with sand and life preservers, while rope netting carefully intertwined with outstretched starfish and various colored sea shells.
The menu consisted of cleverly named comfort food items such as “land lover bites”-filet mignon mouthfuls, “stuffed sea shells”-ricotta stuffed shells and “seaweed wraps”-assorted green wraps with grilled vegetables.
Once in the main bar, I chuckled to find my daughter’s favorite childhood snack….
Goldfish! ‘Swimming’ in glass fish bowls – they were placed throughout the bar area to be consumed by the handful.
With my other hand, I tried one of the themed beers, Kona Big Wave. Aloha!
What can I say, there was no sea shell left unturned when it came to the decorating and creativity for this Journey Under the Sea Winter Ball.
As I indulged on a handful of goldfish while admiring the sea of blue and green gowns, I was washed away to a happy place – one where I was completely stuffed to the gills.
Photo Interlude Two
Photos and Layout – Arthur Gonick
March 7, 2018