SARATOGA SPRINGS – Don’t let the name White Party fool you, this monochromatic party was a spectacular rainbow of variety!
Within my first few moments the Saratoga Bridges’ 8th Annual White party (Saturday, July 21) I was greeted by the rhythmic, overpowering sound of a low flying helicopter propeller. For the second year in a row, Kimberly and Leigh McConchie out bid all others to be piloted by Heather Howley, owner of Independent Helicopters, and flown into the white party in style.
Photos by Mandy Mittler and Peter Lostritto
This was the very moment that I realized this event was going to be like no other.
As I made my way back from the makeshift landing pad, nude spiked heels sinking in the perfectly groomed Saratoga National Gold Club Golf Course, I received the warmest welcome by a volunteer, wearing not a white, but a lavender shirt. His level of exuberance made me realize that this night, to celebrate and benefit Saratoga Bridges, was going to be a perfect mix of awareness and party.
Three rows of fabulous silent auction items filled the welcoming tent. There were generous donations from the likes of Violets of Saratoga, Tonya and Nate Trained, Homewood Suites, and the YMCA – but the table that had my heart and must be highlighted was the display of artwork by individuals through Creative Endeavors.
Creative Endeavors is Saratoga Bridges’ gift shop, art center, and gallery, located on Front Street in Ballston Spa. Creative Endeavors Art Center “cultivates the talents of individual challenged by developmental disabilities, through diverse and comprehensive offerings in the arts.” I felt fortunate to be able to converse with David Woomer, a budding artist, but not quick enough to purchase one of his paintings before they sold out.
David told me that he started painting back some time ago, but mostly just drew then. When he heard about Creative Endeavors, he learned how to use posed items to make art. He recounted that most of his pieces are inspired by magazines, but some are from his imagination alone.
Original paintings were displayed next to Creative Endeavors torn cardboard collages. I learned that artists use items such as tissue, cereal, and food boxes to create collages. These works of art are done in a collaborative approach, and many of the displayed pieces are based on Saratoga Springs. These unique pieces are wonderful and I strongly urge you to browse their website, HERE.
After I left the silent auction tent, I was greeted by a sea of crisp white – the festive décor by Fine Affairs and Rain or Shine Tent Company. White table cloths resting under white ceramic tree centerpieces, graced with clear crystals dangling from their outstretched limbs. White folding chairs supported couples and friends as others mingled amongst the already gorgeous Saratoga National grounds. As the night progressed, the white accents so perfectly placed took backstage to the main event: The 600+ people who came all dressed in unison. The sight of everyone coming to an event, in the same color, to show love and support for Saratoga Bridges, made this event so heartwarming.
As people mingled, there was plenty to food to sample. The always delicious Mazzone Catering satisfied palettes with passed hors d’oeuvres, small plate style delights, and carving stations with sauces ready and waiting to customize your dinner plate.
The Emcee for the night, Benita Zahn from News Channel 13, began her remarks by simply reminding us what Saratoga Bridges’ mission and vision statement is: A commitment to advocacy for people with disabilities – and providing the resources that enable them to live enriching lives in the communities where they are valued for their abilities and contributions.
Indeed, Saratoga Bridges has been providing the highest level of programs to people with disabilities and their families for more than 60 years!
The numerous employees and volunteers advocate for people with disabilities, to ensure that they are able to work, volunteer, and socialize in the town they love, while providing resources that enable individuals to live enriching lives, in communities where they are valued for their abilities and contributions. Saratoga Bridges’ motto is: Every day is full of possibilities!
This tremendous task is accomplished by the hard work and dedication of close to 600 employees, 289 volunteers, and 12 interns, all making Saratoga Bridges one of the largest not-for-profit organizations in Saratoga County, and one of the top 15 employers in Saratoga County.
To date there are over 830 individuals served, with 450 clients transported daily to and from employment or programs – accruing 800,000 miles annually!.
A lengthy and wonderful list and descriptions of partnerships and support to individuals with disabilities and their families through Saratoga Bridges can be found HERE.
More to come after the Gallery.
The Gallery: Saturday Night’s All Right in White
Hearing about all that Saratoga Bridges does for individuals with disabilities seems like magic! Therefore it was only approps that the night’s festivities were kicked off by Saratoga Native and 2016 America’s Got Talent semi-finalist, Steven Brundage. Steven amazed the crowd with his Rubik’s Cube abilities and slight-of-hand magic. Later in the night we chatted, and I found him to be down to earth and approachable.
The White Party’s event Co-Chairs, Christianne Potts and Sarah Samascott, took the stage with Executive Director Valerie A. Muratori, Christianne remarked that “…it was not the magic show that gave me goose bumps – it is seeing all of you here.”
Some of the many worthy accolades and thanks were bestowed upon the Honorary Chairs, Patty and Vincent Riggi, and to Heather Nicole Varney for her tireless efforts and devotion to organizing and ensuring the White Party’s success since its inception.
After much hearty, deserved applause, the live auction began. Due to the generosity of the live auction donors and participants, $18,000 was raised bidding on just 7 items, such as designing and creating a custom piece with award-winning jewelry designer Dennis deJonghe, and a new driveway donated by BDB Paving.
As auction paddles were laid to rest, groups lined up to have their photo taken by Heather Bohm-Tallman Photography while other party goers began to fill the dance floor as GRAVITY began to turn this affair into a party. Jamming on a makeshift platform over an infinity pool, GRAVITY keep the dance floor occupied an hour past the invitation end time!
As the sun set, tea light candles danced like lightning bugs amongst the white flowing drapery. Fire pits were lit and guest relaxed with a freshly rolled cigar from James and Sons Tobacconists or sipped on another open bar libation sponsored by Ketel One Vodka. Dessert was offered up in large coolers filled with ice pops and ice cream bars or the cleaver and delicious all natural shaved ice provided by Left Field. When I thought this night couldn’t provide any more, fireworks began to explode above the White Party guests, by FIREWORKS by Santore.
I can see how this is Saratoga Bridges largest annual fundraiser! There was so much to experience, sample, and bid on.
In the end, when all the lights were dimmed and the last white tablecloth was sent to be laundered, the final tally was being determined. I am pleased to announce that this year’s Saratoga Bridges White Party netted over $96,000!
Well done to all the donors, volunteers, and partiers – you made sure that for Saratoga Bridges’ clients, every day is full of possibilities for them!
July 28, 2018