The Mad Hatter Victorian Tea

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May 2013       Issue 3.0
Mad Hatter Brenda Hasse 
"And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation.”  -Lewis Carroll

What began as a simple Victorian tea by a small group of people has transformed into a grand event. As this new idea was born, a committee was formed and began busily working to set up the first annual Mad Hatter/Victorian Tea Party. In addition to an afternoon of fantasy, treats and good conversation, the tea also raised money for a truly worthy cause.

The first annual Mad Hatter/Victorian Tea had 25 guests in attendance and raised $110. One of the committee organizer’s Brenda Hasse (pictured at left) explained the concept behind the tea. “Since our tea had an Alice in Wonderland theme and celebrated Lewis Carroll’s work, we decided to donate any proceeds from the tea to purchase new books for the Media centers at the local Fenton Area Public Schools." This is especially important to Brenda, who as a child struggled with reading, even hating it. But as she discovered the wonderful world of imagination inside the pages of a book, she soon loved to read. Her new found passion for reading helped her notice story lines and sentence structure. Brenda was soon creating her own stories written from the vivid images in her mind. She has since gone on to write and publish several children’s books, including Wilkinshire. As a guest teacher at Fenton Area Public Schools, Brenda became aware of the decreasing funds in the local media center. Since the students enjoy reading so much, we hoped to supplement their desire for new books, even as the regular funding decreased. Fenton’s Open Book also donated several books for the event. Overall the three elementary schools and middle school each received two new books and the high school received three new books.

The Mad Hatter/Victorian Tea was held in the recreation room at the Fenton Community and Cultural Center and featured wonderfully “mad” decorations that included mismatched plates and tablecloths, card garlands and Alice in Wonderland cutouts. The rec. room made for a perfect venue as it opens to the park and allowed them to set up a croquet game for guests to play, a must for any Mad Hatter Tea Party. Attendees enjoyed the vocal and guitar performance of very talented local musician Kevin Tyler. Tracy Nau Boyer LaForest, another Fenton resident, gave a particularly entertaining recitation of two Lewis Carroll’s poems. Brenda Hasse, the master of ceremonies, kept the events moving along and shared the history of Fenton with tea party guests.

Each of the guests dined on a delicious selection of tea party goodies and drank a variety of teas. They received mini hat favors filled with gifts and coupons to local businesses, such as Jill’s General Store, Fenton’s Open Book And Sweet Variations. Guest played the “quote quiz game” and tried to identify which Alice in Wonderland character stated a specific quote and as they warned their guests “don’t be late for tea,” the last to arrive received the White Rabbit Award. One of the highlights of the tea was that the guests dressed for the occasion and three were selected for Best Victorian Costume (Tracy Nau Boyer LaForest) Best Alice Themed Costume (James Glassbrook), and Maddest Hat (Nikcyi Cafini) and were voted on by those in attendance. Penny Grainger Pickelmann, a professional photographer, photographed all in attendance and truly captured the madness! Toni Knoll, owner of the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival, was kind enough to donate a complimentary ticket to each of the guests as well.

Next year the hope is for the Mad Hatter/Victorian Tea to become an even grander event. The rec. room can easily accommodate 72 people. The group hopes to get more of the local businesses involved next year and increase their attendance. Other ideas on the table include a children’s tea and perhaps in time, a Mad Hatter’s Ball, expanding into the Main Hall of the Community Center which can accommodate over 200 guests.

For more details and to find out how you can get involved with next year’s Mad Hatter/Victorian Tea Party event visit their Facebook page.
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