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Bacchanale Ball Does As the Romans Do!

Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It was a night of Bread and Circus when the Bacchanale Ball raised $12,000 for its beneficiary, The Hope Funds for Cancer Research, while welcoming guests of honor, the Italian Polo Team.  As the social highlight of the summer in this seaside resort, the 13th annual International Polo Charity Ball, hosted by the Newport Polo Club, was held on Fri., Aug. 2 at Rosecliff, one of Newport’s famed Bellevue Avenue mansions.

The black tie gala’s Roman theme honored the Italian Polo Team and struck a chord with fashionistas, giving ample fuel for nearly 300 guests to turn out in authentic 'toga' or toga-inspired fashions from this year's runways, in silhouette after silhouette of caped, beaded, braided, fluted, ruched, cut-out, cuffed and gold-banded gowns styled to suit the occasion!   A gourmet Italian feast (passed hors d'oeuvres and seated dinner), created by Blackstone Catering, was complemented by Italian wines, specialty cocktails & aperitifs mixed by the Cocktail Guru, and favorite Italian dolce confections.  Rosecliff’s Italianate architecture served as the perfect backdrop, with gardens rivaling those of ancient Rome.  The orchestra warmed up with classics from legendary Italian crooners, even a timeless ballad sung in Italian that drew an ovation.  

Alas, Caesar was not the only one dispersing gold coins!  Fabulous live auction packages from Christofle, Nisi Yachts, de Savary International Resorts, and Alex and Ani, among others, were swiftly snapped up by the sporty set, the wine enthusiasts, the travel buffs and the luxury aficionados in the audience!  (A limited number of rare, collector’s equestrian charm bracelets designed by Alex and Ani will remain available through the end of this year with a donation to the Hope Funds!)

There were many authentic togas, gilded wreaths, gladiator sandals and the like, and but making the biggest splash, and rightfully so, was the Italian team and its entourage. Stacie Mills ushered in a fancy Newport posse, while Peter Rains played pied piper to the Palm Beach crowd.  Other familiar faces in the crowd were polo sideliners Abigail BrownAnn MurrayMargo ConnorsPatrick Jardon, the Aroys and NoreausKate & Mike Water’s court, and a whole gaggle of New Yorkers with Andrew Nawn, and Bostonites including Joshua Hebert who flew down on Magellan Jets. There were Merles and Flemings, Perkins and Chenowyths, Stansfields, Pinards, and Ribeiros. Brian Cunha and Bekki Shenker brought guests from California, and there were omnipresent committee members Leah CannKelly Powers, and gala Ambassador Gene Kennedy.

Bursting with polo players, male and female from the Newport Polo Club and its gala Ambassadors Dr. Peter Friedman and Jr. Ambassador Laurel Howe, and the evenings’ live auction, chaired by Dan Keating.

The gilded ballroom never looked more stunning, with Christofle’s candelabras, crystal & silver table settings and serving pieces adding extra dazzle.  The evening was magical, the dance floor was packed, and the gods of Rome were pleased.  The ballroom gyrated til the stroke of midnight, when the party moved on to fill the Sky Bar at the Clarke Cooke House.

Rosecliff, located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, is considered the premier estate amidst America’s finest collection of gilded age mansions.  Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles.  After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.

With a mission “to encourage investigation of innovative cancer treatment and detection for the most difficult-to-treat and understudied cancers” explained Dr. Eugene Kennedy, gala Ambassador, and Hope Funds trustee, the Newport-based organization supports scientific and medical research programs in cancer research institutions around the country aimed at increasing knowledge relating to both cancer care and prevention.  (For more info about the Hope Funds for Cancer Research, visit or call 401-847-3286.)

To that tune, the Newport Polo Club announces that it is accepting nominations of nonprofit civic or charitable beneficiaries for next year’s gala, to take place on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in one of Newport’s famed mansions, TBA.

The annual summer soiree, in its 13th year, attracts bon vivants, polo enthusiasts & players from across the US and overseas for a weekend of festivities in the glamorous City by the Sea.  The celebration continued the following day at the Newport International Polo Series where the featured match was USA vs. Italy.  After the match, the Newport Polo Club’s annual Lobsterbake was the perfect conclusion of the weekend's events. Please check our Events tab for details and reservations in 2014.

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