WESTFIELD-As the Westfield Athenaeum’s Rise to Knowledge campaign soon enters its third phase, a special evening is planned that will showcase the interiors with delightful additions that bring to life favorite holiday stories.
The fundraising event – A Storybook Holiday – is slated Dec. 6 from 6 – 8 p.m. in the Great Hall and features an elaborate wine tasting, a raffle with colorful wreaths and centerpieces, music by the Westfield High School Jazz Combo, and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres prepared by the culinary students at Westfield Technical Academy (WTA).
“Along with the traditional holiday and Christmas books that will be on display, we will also designate areas that will show a stuffed animal reading a book, an area dedicated to the story, Twas the Night Before Christmas and Frosty the Snowman, and an antique sleigh that will be decorated with presents,” said Jayne Mulligan, a member of the Athenaeum’s board of directors.
Mulligan also thanked Westfield Gas & Electric for its sponsorship and putting up new Christmas lights on the front of the building.
Mulligan and fundraising committee members have been working with Phipps Super Store on East Main Street to coordinate logistics for the wine choices for the evening.
“We are grateful for Phipps Super Store being the main sponsor and donating all of the wine,” said Mulligan.
At press time, Grace Phillips, Phipps manager, is still working out the logistics with her sales representatives but expects to have at least 20 different bottles of wine displayed and distributed among four tables.
“We want to offer a variety of dry and sweet wines to accommodate everyone’s palate,” said Phillips, adding she will also feature one dessert wine.
Phillips said her offerings will range from a variety of red and white wines from California, to Italian reds and whites and a Reisling from Germany.
“We will also have some bubbly options which are perfect for the holidays,” said Phillips.
“Celebrity” pourers for the wine tasting will include Stefan Czaporowski, superintendent, and Christopher Rogers, administrator of student interventions and safety, both of the Westfield Public Schools; state-Sen. and Westfield mayor-elect Donald Humason Jr.; former mayor Brian Sullivan; Felix Otero, court officer at Westfield District Court, and Hope Tremblay, assistant managing editor, Reminder Publishing LLC.
While attendees are enjoying their wine selections and listening to a mix of seasonal and holiday favorites, as well as some songs from the Great American Songbook by the Westfield High School Jazz Combo, an extensive array of appetizers will be offered according to Eric Rogers, culinary arts instructor at WTA. The menu includes cheese and crackers, fresh sliced fruits, crudités with dip, deviled eggs, sausage stuffed mushrooms, scallops wrapped in bacon, chicken and pineapple teriyaki skewers, and tomato basil bruschetta. In addition, tuxedo chocolate dipped strawberries will round out the delectable offerings.
Another fundraising highlight of the evening will be a raffle of wreaths and centerpieces – all made with local greenery.
“Our fundraising committee will be decorating the wreaths and centerpieces on Dec. 4 at the Athenaeum,” said Mulligan, adding all will have a holiday theme.
In addition to the wreaths and centerpieces, Mulligan said the committee will adorn a poinsettia plant with lottery scratch tickets and decorate a Christmas cactus plant with gift cards from local restaurants.
Committee members working behind the scenes on the event include Linda Saltus, Susan Kingra, Pat Steele-Perkins, Kathy Doody, Kathy Knapik, Donna Burkott, and Debbie Strycharz.
Mulligan said the proceeds raised from the event will help to ramp up fundraising efforts in early 2020 for phase three of Athenaeum renovations.
“Since we are a private entity we will be reaching out to the community and writing grants again,” said Mulligan. “For phase three, we are focusing on the Great Hall, the Jasper Rand Art Gallery, and the Elizabeth Reed Room.”
Mulligan said expected expenses for the upcoming renovations range from $700,000 – $800,000.
“If we have infrastructure problems, phase three could be closer to $1 million,” said Mulligan. “We still have some seed money from phases one and two, however, we are basically starting over.”
Tickets are $30 and are available at the Athenaeum as well as online at www.westath.org. Tickets will also be available at the door, however, Mulligan hopes to sell most tickets before the event so the culinary department has an accurate count of persons attending.
Sponsors for the event also include the Michael Stolpinski family, Micro Abrasives Corporation, Mestek, Inc., Advance Manufacturing Company, Harry and Anne Rock, the Michael Knapik family, Park Square Realty, Polish National Credit Union, Phil and Robin Cameron, Tom and Carol Glynn, Donald Humason Jr., and state Rep. John Velis.
“Come help us kick off the holiday season,” said Mulligan, noting close to 100 tickets have been sold at press time. “We would love to see 150 or more area residents at our event.”