By Amy Cavavaugh Posted March 9, 2009, 3:54 PM EDT
WASHINGTON On Saturday night, under unusually warm, clear skies, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School held its 35th annual auction and dinner in the school’s gym, with event proceeds benefiting the in-house financial aid programs. Kicking-off at 5:30 p.m., the evening had a safari theme, and the silent auction's 450 attendees (350 for the seated dinner), included parents and alumnae dressed in animal prints, khaki pants, and safari hats. At the entrances were two white Jeeps (on loan from school patrons) propped with stuffed animals, and mosquito netting and a bounty of tropical potted plants decorated the gym.
The school enlisted André Wells, the parent of a St. Patrick’s student and owner of Events by André Wells, to produce the event. “My goal was to create an elegant safari with inspirations of jungle rather than too much wildlife,” said Wells, who incorporated recorded animal cries into the mix of props and draping. “We said, let’s make the gym disappear and make people forget where they are.”
A Vista Events provided, among other rentals, animal-patterned fabric for the walls, mosquito netting, and antique trunks. Tabletops featured bowls and tall vases filled with palm leaves as well as wicker place mats, and small yellow votive candles. The lighting, by John Farr Lighting, was soft and included images of zebras projected onto the wall by the entrance.
The seated dinner, by Main Events Catering, included Moroccan tangerine salad, horseradish-crusted filet mignon, and tarte tartin for dessert. The evening’s special cocktail, the Sundowner, was made with Jack Daniels, simple syrup, bitters, and lemon. During dinner, a live auction was held for some of the big-ticket items, including a trip to Rome. The auctioneer was MSNBC's Tucker Carlson, whose children attend St. Patrick's. The last guests were out the door at 1 a.m.