2018 90+ Tea Party
A fête not to be missed!
Story and photos by Natalie Castelo
“The people in my car said this was the best party EVER! Good work!” Those are the words of volunteer driver and table host, Diane R., after driving a car of “90-plus-ers” home from the Ashby Village 90+ Tea Party on Friday, August 10. The Julia Morgan Hall at the Ashby Village offices was made even more stunning with the addition of several tables covered in cream colored table cloths, orchid centerpieces, beautiful tea services, and simple and elegant place settings. “Yearbooks” were waiting on the seat of every 90-something honored guest, each of whom was featured on their own yearbook page with a recent photo, a few facts about their life, and blank lines to record the email addresses and phone numbers of any of their fellow honorees. A slideshow featuring all these guests played throughout the event, showing old photos from childhood and young adulthood alongside current photos. It wasn’t difficult to see the energy of those younger years coming through as everyone came together to celebrate the many decades of wisdom represented by our most experienced members. “We’re not really old, we’re just really ‘broken in’,” one member explained. “We still love a party!”
(Click the image to play the video!)
With Glenn Miller, Tony Bennett and other band leaders and crooners playing in the background, the Tea Party party took off with trays of tea sandwiches being offered at each table, “Coronation Chicken? Egg salad? Cucumber?” Fresh fruit and bottomless cups of coffee and tea also filled the first hour of table groups getting to know one another, saying hello to friends across the room, and trying to answer Volunteer and Operations Manager Pat Carvalho’s question, “Did you figure out what you all have in common?” A close examination of each table member’s yearbook pages revealed that quite a lot of thought went into the seating arrangements. One table was populated with opera lovers, another with former social workers. Another table even sat a few members who were originally from Minnesota! Beyond all this careful and thoughtful planning, there was a mysterious hand at work, too. One of the event’s biggest surprises occurred when two guests seated at different tables happened to see each other and realized they were long lost neighbors and friends who had not seen each other in 45 years! Newly reunited, they exchanged contact information that they recorded in their yearbooks, vowing to “keep in touch this time!”
As desserts were delivered to the tables, guests continued to chat with one another, visiting with friends, invited family members, and volunteers, everyone making sure to keep a lemon bar, fruit tartlette or other homemade sweet within arm’s reach. And just as everyone was ready for that last cup of tea or coffee, and a last nibble on a brownie bite or scone, there was a surprise announcement. “At your table groups, find out who of the 90-plus-ers has the birthday that falls latest in the year! This is where a New Year’s Eve baby will be lucky!” And so, after some checking in, “That’s my daughter’s birthday!” and, “I could tell you’re a Virgo…” we learned that each winning birthday baby was taking home the orchid centerpiece.
Shortly afterwards, while everyone was winding down and starting to say their goodbyes, they learned there was a special farewell planned. All the honored guests moved into the smaller, adjoining hall seating themselves in two prearranged rows of seats for a group photo and…a song! After a brief photo session with all the honored guests, Ashby Village staff member and volunteer, Kate Sosin led everyone (accompanied by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross on the small screen) in “Thanks for the Memory”. With lyric sheets in hand, everyone brought their voices together for a sweet rendition of the classic hit song. And what better parting words than, “Oh well, it was swell while it lasted. We did have fun, and no harm done. So thanks for the memory…”
Special thanks go Pat Carvalho, Natalie Castelo and the volunteer planning team Melissa Beidler, Sigrid Duesberg and Pat Kirkpatrick for bringing this party to life. Thanks are also extended to the many volunteers who gave their time as drivers, table hosts, tech support, and the clean up crew. The day would not have been possible without you!