Take a Night of a Hundred Dinners and double it. Then multiply by four. This year’s Night of a Hundred Dinners, the eighth annual fundraiser, saw close to 800 participants, wining, dining and supporting the Achieve Foundation.
Event co-chairs Eileen Neri and Mutlu Bascillar aimed to raise $40,000 this year, and with checks still coming in (and still welcome!), they have surpassed their goal. This year was special, says Neri, as the evening will provide a boost to the Take a Seat campaign. The effort to restore the Columbia High School auditorium will benefit from three parties dedicated to the campaign, as well as a portion of money from the entire event.
“It has grown to become a nice community event,” says Neri. Eight years ago, when the fundraiser began, about 100 locals dined in different homes around town. The invited guests donated funds to Achieve. Now, with dozens of hosts and hundreds of guests, parties have become ever more creative and unique.
“There was a murder mystery party,” notes Neri, where hosts and guests dressed the part of a bride, groom, and the rest of the wedding party. “Another party had a Mad Men theme.”
A few parties had extra-special guests, says Neri. Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew, choreographers of the Columbia High School musical West Side Story, brought student performers to a few parties. (The musical will be performed this weekend and next; see below for times.)
Tony and Maria sang their duets for a crowd, while Jets entertained party goers with their signature song, “When You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet All the Way.”
Neri explains that, while the Night of a Hundred Dinners began with traditional dinner parties eight years ago, good times come in all shapes and sizes. Cocktails for 80? A family event, with kids and parents in attendance? Girls Night Out? Wine tasting? The community saw them all.
And, says Neri, it’s never too soon to plan for next year. "I only wish I could attend all the parties," says Neri.
Please add your photos of the night or comment below!
West Side Story comes to Columbia High School starting this Friday.
Performance dates and times are:
Friday, March 9- 7:30
Saturday, March 10- 7:30
Sunday, March 11- 2:00
Friday, March 16- 7:30
Saturday, March 17- 7:30
Sunday, March 18- 2:00
Tickets are at these locations or you can purchase at the door:
Stony's - 10 Sloan St. South Orange
Park Wood Diner - 1958 Springfield Ave., Maplewood
Maplewood Stationers - 171 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood
Maplewood Pizzeria - 513 Valley Street, Maplewood
$10 in advance or $15 if you buy at the door.