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Midnight in Marrakesh Gala Moroc'd the Casbah

Date: Friday, August 10, 2018

Generous and fun-loving attendees turned out in fabulous arabesque ensembles to cross Rosecliff's red carpet for a night of exquisite food, dancing and heart-warming philanthropy, welcoming guests of honor, the Moroccan polo team and gala beneficiary SAVE THE BAY to the 18th annual International Polo Charity Ball, raising nearly $28,000 to support crucial conservation measures to protect the Ocean State's most vital resource.

Dubbed Midnight in Marrakesh, the sold-out black tie gala embraced Morocco's Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences to rule the night and captivate the senses with exotic flavors, rhythms, decor, and auction treasures. 

Celebrations began with a Meet & Greet reception for the Moroccan team on the Regent Decks of Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina, where the team was headquartered.  Gala-goers then made their way along famed Bellevue Ave mansions to Rosecliff where the terrace & lawn offered twilight ocean views, passed hors-d'oeuvres, North African spiced specialty libations by The Cocktail Guru, henna tattoos & exclusive Silent Auction opportunities. 

Gala Ambassadors Jonathan Stone, Executive Director and Joan Abrams, Major Gifts Officer from SAVE THE BAY were joined by Polo Ambassadors Dr. Margaux Buchanan & Michel Nseir to gladhand over 400 guests in a parade of festive costume.  Evening gowns and black tie were interspersed with bead and bejeweled caftans, turbans, babouches and veils in rich hues among many fabulous interpretations of the Moroccan theme. 

As the sun went down, the bidding heated up in the silent auction, featuring original works of art, exciting adventures, excursions and getaways, designer apparel, gifts and jewelry, dinner & theatre tickets and other highly sought-after packages from generous donors. In the gilded ballroom adorned in gem tones and opulent floral bouquets, live musical entertainment from Decades by Dezyne added to the magic, and a whirlwind live auction wizarded by Sotheby's auctioneer, Hugh Hildesley offered up the nights crown jewels. 

MC'ing the program, USA captain Dan Keating’s introductions included: 

  • Moroccan Polo Team: Karim Drif, Imad Ounnisi, Taissir Kadiri, Nour-dean Anakar and Rabii Benadada
  • SAVE THE BAY:  Jonathan Stone, Executive Director
  • Sponsors: Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina; Stagecraft Audio, Regine Printing, The Cocktail Guru
  • Patrons:  Stacie Mills, Daniel Bennett, Karrie Norrison, Elizabeth Bishop, Ann Murray, Laurel Howe, Linda Rines, Peter Ruggiero, Caroline Reavey, Peter Barrego, Gregory Bertoni and Kathianne Ice
  • Auction Committee:  Joan Abrams, Chair, Leanne Danielsen, Stan Dimock, Stacie Mills, Maureen Fogarty, Kara Foley, Laurel Howe, Agnes Keating, Christine MacDonald, Siobhan Wahlberg, Gail Ginnetty, Tony Morettini and Joelle Riccio

Blackstone Catering's chef created the Moroccan-inspired hors d’oeuvres, 3-course dinner and dessert station.  Après dinner guests joined the party to heighten the competition in Silent Auction bidding and enjoy refreshments and dancing under the spell of the 10-piece orchestra until the stroke of midnight.  The odyssey's finale ascended to the Skybar, atop Clarke Cooke House for a last dance.

18 years and counting, the International Polo Charity Ball is the social highlight of the polo season, when polo players, enthusiasts and supporters come together for a lively celebration while supporting worthy charitable organizations. Festivities carried on through the weekend as the international guests of honor took to the polo field to challenge USA.  An annual New England Lobsterbake by the legendary McGrath Clambakes catering specialists was an additional treat on the extraordinary weekend.  

Conservation and environmental stewardship are at the core of SAVE THE BAY's mission. Proceeds from the gala's auction will help conserve our community’s most precious resource, Narragansett Bay.  Since 1970, SAVE THE BAY has acted as its guardian,  protecting against government & private activities that degrade the environmental quality of the Bay, basin, and watershed, restoring coastal habitats, providing educational opportunities for children and adults to explore the Bay, fostering an understanding and a sense of personal responsibility for the resource.  Through vigorous advocacy, the Bay, once choked by raw sewage and dying a slow death from industrial toxins, is now making a strong comeback but the work is far from over.  We also hope to raise awareness beyond our borders with a greater understanding of environmental protection priorities.  

We gratefully recognize our supportive Auction donors, without whom our mission to support SAVE THE BAY would not have been successful: 


  • Alessandra Dolnier
  • BMW
  • Boris Bally
  • Brahmin
  • Bristol Oyster House
  • Capriccio
  • Designs by Katrina
  • Donna Neville Framing
  • Dover Saddlery
  • Elinor C. Thompson
  • Elizabeth Lind
  • Forza Cavallo Gallery
  • Gail Ginnetty
  • Gina Marie
  • Grace Hotels
  • Grasmere
  • Harley Bartlett
  • Imports from Marrakesh
  • Jody King
  • Karsten Schultz
  • Kent Stetson
  • Lululemon
  • Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaraunt
  • Newport Vineyards & Winery
  • Onne Van Der Wal Photography & Video
  • Peter de Savary
  • Providence Performing Arts Center
  • Puesto Viejo Estancia & Polo Club
  • Rug Company
  • Saltzman's Watches
  • Save The Bay
  • Schumacher
  • Seaside YOGA
  • Shades
  • Sharon Cameron Lawn Interior Design & Consulting
  • The Green Door
  • Tiffany Adams
  • Tom Deininger
  • Vanderbilt International Properties
  • Viking Tours


Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress,  Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, Rosecliff, a gilded age mansion, stands out among the big houses of Bellevue. Architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff on the garden retreat of French Kings at Versailles, the Grand Trianon. Upon completion in 1902, Rosecliff was the sight of many fabulous entertainments. Our gala attendees stood in the same room where Harry Houdini performed his renowned slights of hand at Mrs. Olerichs fairy tale dinner party. The Newport Polo Club is looking ahead to the next International Polo Ball on Friday, August 2, 2019. Nominations are open for a nonprofit civic or charitable beneficiary. For more information about the 2018 gala, contact Newport Polo via email, addressed to

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