One last summer party - for a good cause
You can dress in white, raise a toast on beautiful historic grounds, share a meal with old friends, meet new ones, and celebrate the end of summer.
The Le Diner en Blanc concept, launched in Paris in 1988, is being saluted by the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society on Aug. 31 within sight of the Post-Crowell House as the Diner en Blanc, or All-White Dinner Party.
“This is our interpretation of the French event,” explained Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society president Joan Kaelin. “It’s not about being elitist or snobbish. It’s about eating with new and old friends, a chic picnic in a public space that everyone is comfortable to enjoy.”
Its origin began with Francois Pasquier, the founder and organizer of what has become a Paris phenomenon, 31 years ago. Pasquier started the gathering after returning from Tahiti, where he and his family lived for several years. A party to celebrate their return home with friends was decided, but their garden was too small. Instead, a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne was the venue they chose, a public park thanks to Emperor Napoleon III, who ceded the land to Paris for public use in 1852. As it’s a little over 2,000 acres, friends were instructed to wear white so they could find each other. It was such a hit, the party was repeated the following June. Eventually, friends brought friends, the location was moved and kept secret until just before its start, but that didn’t dampen participant enthusiasm. Subsequent locations have included the square in front of The Louvre Pyramid and the event has been duplicated internationally.
“The premise is that it’s held in a historic place with venerable architecture,” said Kaelin. “It raises a question about preservation and that perhaps it should be open to participation.”
Diner en Blanc fits the bill. Long tables will be set up on the side of the Post-Crowell House, the jewel of BBHS’s museum complex with its lawn, gazebo and several buildings. Diners can stroll the grounds during the cocktail hour and know that their ticket is supporting a historical nonprofit. The delicious three-course meal planned will be — what else — blanc-themed.
This is a new event for BBHS. Kaelin has successfully mixed those that are free and aimed to bring in families, with affordable book talks and chowder dinners, along with their annual gala, a bit more pricey, as ways to entice residents to learn about Bellport’s and Brookhaven’s landmarks and hardworking, storied inhabitants and how they helped create a village haven. There is even an Exchange Shop, which sells antiques, manned by volunteers. Proceeds from those sales, fees from the events, memberships and donations are designed to help with BBHS expenses, including maintenance and restoration of the grounds and buildings, a five-acre responsibility.
“I want to have people drop in and have the historical society become a place to relax and enjoy something,” Kaelin said.
Sometimes international views aren’t so different. Kaelin’s intent for the dinner is in line with its founder Pasquier, a gathering that is inclusive and open to others.
“The purpose is to be open and friendly,” she said. “What’s better than sitting with nice people and having dinner?”
Tickets to the BBHS Diner en Blanc event can be purchased via www.bbhsmuseum.com.
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