By Adele Chapin Posted September 9, 2008, 10:27 AM EDT
WASHINGTON, D.C. Tropical Storm Hanna forced organizers of the second annual Smithsonian Young Benefactors Polo Cup to postpone their event on Saturday, but conditions on Sunday were perfect for a day of polo on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park Polo Field and an outdoor V.I.P. after-party in the Mandarin Oriental’s garden overlooking the Potomac.
Despite being rescheduled, the event still managed to draw the expected 500 guests for the match, which benefited the Smithsonian Associates and the Young Benefactors Culture 4Kids Fund, and more than 250 guests to the Miami-themed after-party.
Event coordinators scanned weather reports on Friday, but a call from the park prompted them to reschedule. “We thought, ‘Thank you, you made our decision easy,'” said Young Benefactors coordinator Jacalyn Reimann. “That was the way we were leaning anyway.” Reimann said that the most challenging aspect of rescheduling was shifting the order of the polo matches, because some players had other commitments on Sunday—including Ralph Lauren model and professional polo player Nacho Figueras, who was expected to be at the after-party but had to leave immediately following the main match to catch a plane back to Argentina. Reimann posted a message on the Young Benefactors' Web site and contacted guests by phone and email to make them aware of the rescheduled date.
The event’s central location helped draw attendees. “Polo is new to a lot of people, and bringing it to the mall attracts people who’ve never seen it,” Reimann said. Guests also came for the scene—the event's organizers created a Miami garden party atmosphere with sleek white furniture and a black-and-gold color scheme in the V.I.P. and general admission tents and at the after-party. Teams sponsored by Circa, Capitol File magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Ralph Lauren (the winners) competed, then two shuttles escorted guests to the Mandarin Oriental, where V.I.P. polo players like John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and Chris Del Gatto, C.E.O. of Circa, arrived via Maserati (another Cup sponsor).
At the party, guests mingled with the players, who were still in uniform, and sampled raspberry mojitos and passed hors d'oeuvres like Korean barbecue beef and Vietnamese summer rolls. Although guests couldn’t go for a spin in the Quattroporte S and GranTurismo S parked in front of the hotel, they each received a Maserati baseball cap and Maserati-emblazoned swag bag filled with gifts from fellow sponsors Intermix and Capitol File.