Carrie Rowlands Johnson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tiny rhinestones take a seat against the black, delicately framing the cat-eye curve on top of the glasses. I lift them from the hard shell case painted in the signature Tiffany’s turquoise blue, pushing them onto my nose and over my ears. A quick glance in the mirror and I realize I must own these. There may be more face-flattering sunglasses, but none that transport me to this era, staring directly into the face of Audrey Hepburn, aka Hollie Golightly in my most favorite book and movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I envision them as my magic writing glasses, channeling Truman Capote.
Dozens of items scattered across the tables at The Polo Meadow Grounds at Saratoga Hotel and Casino, waiting for the highest bidder in the silent auction… a charming Nantucket-style bicycle, an original Daniel Mozzes gown, mammoth-sized bottles of wine, dancing lessons, framed art, a signature Lily Pulitzer travel bag… but those Tiffany’s sunglasses!
Satisfied this treasure is worthwhile, a bid is placed electronically via cell phone and my friends and I walk away from the tables.
The Saratoga Hospital Gala, one of my most favorite events of the year, is well-attended… guests dressed casual Caribbean style fitting with the theme, Havana Nights, the tables decorated in greenery and palms. The energy, as usual, is electric. The voice of the live auctioneer echoes through the background.
Thirty-six years running, this event is a staple on the Saratoga gala scene. This year, even more special as tribute is paid to beloved foundation director Amy Raimo, who died tragically in a motorcycle accident just last month.
After a quick stop for a cocktail, we visit the food tables. I choose light appetizers such as jumbo shrimp, crab pico de gallo and guacamole. A friend opts for the lobster paella.
Traveling tent to tent, we mingle with friends… doctors, chiropractors, nurses, members of the community… one of my favorite parts of this event is the people we see along the way.
The cell phone dings, signaling a higher bidder on my Tiffany’s sunglasses. We place one more bid.
In spite of the rain, the event is well attended… this community we call home is as supportive of our hospital as we are of the arts, my Hollie Golightly costume a glamorous reminder on this Saratoga staple night.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – These are the dispatches where we realize that the internet is not only instant – but it is for all time.
And while I cannot claim that I knew Amy Raimo as long, or as well, as many people that I imagine are reading this, I can say that every encounter I had with Amy was a high-quality one. When I learned of her untimely passing, I wrote that she epitomized the word ‘integrity’ to me, and I am sticking to that. Simply put: Everything Amy ever told me, I learned very quickly I could take it to the bank. In so doing, she was responsible for giving, or confirming, some of the biggest stories I had in my previous life as a metro reporter.
But it goes far deeper than that. Amy conducted her whole life with integrity, spiced up with healthy doses of confidence, and cheerfulness. On Planet Amy, it was always “Thumbs up!”
Always. And this is why Amy took over the reins of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation from the esteemable Terry Lee, and and rode that champion to new, exciting horizons – the by-products of which we all enjoyed on this evening, and will continue to do. Eternally.
I don’t presume to speak on behalf of others. The mourning and grieving processes are deeply personal. But I do believe that we all felt a major sense of loss on this night, while simultaneously enjoying the festive atmosphere last Wednesday, August 1, that Amy Raimo had a major part of cultivating and nurturing. And, in the hope that there is some sort of connection between the cyber-world and heaven, I hope you will agree with me when i say…
Thumbs up, Amy!
August 8, 2018