If you thought attending a gala was a stiff and formal affair, you clearly weren't at the Speakeasy Gala held Friday, March 25 at the American Hotel in Staunton.  The crowd of partygoers in festive 1920's costumes kicked up their heels up and had a great time dancing the Charleston and the Tango to period music performed by Buddy and the Bootleggers.  Ladies donned beautiful headbands with a multitude of exotic feathers and colorful flapper costumes.  Dapper gentlemen wore either "gangster" outfits, other attire of the era, or black-tie.  The American Hotel provided the perfect speakeasy ambiance with its exposed brick walls and historic architecture.  Before entering the building, hopeful partygoers even had to whisper the official password to the "bouncer" to enter. 

Singer Sandi Belcher received a resounding round of applause after she sang a lively rendition of "All That Jazz" from the musical Chicago.  The merrymaking continued with several costume contests.  The Most Outrageous Costume award went to Blake Clark for his brilliant turquoise gangster suit, Best Flapper Costume went to Mary Evans Lott, Best Gangster Costume went to Henley Carter, and the Most Original Costume went to Judy Armstrong, who dressed as temperance advocate Carrie Nation.

A surprise visit by the "Prohibition Police," played by local actors Mike Vayvada and Mike Lafferty, let partygoers know that they were in violation of the 18th Amendment.  Fortunately, President Woodrow Wilson, portrayed by Judd Bankert, saved the day by announcing that he would pardon all attending the Gala, but just until 11:00 p.m.  Everyone made the most of the "situation" by indulging in delicious hors d'oeuvres including Moonshine Cake and other foods of the period.  Thirsty attendees had a wide variety of libations to choose from including Prohibition Ale, manufactured by the aptly-named Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and Bathtub Gin.

The entertaining event benefitted the many education programs that the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library offers to the public.

To see pictures of the event, visit our Flickr page or the Staunton News Leader's gallery.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Bootleggers - Sally and Harry Warthen

Moonshiners - Lynn and Temple Bayliss, Kit Collins and Royer & McGavock Realtors, Community Bank, Melissa and Mike Dickens, Mid Valley Press, Queen City Creative, Lois and Mike Robbins, Smooth Ambler Spirits Company, Patsy and Don Wilson, Kim and Jeff Wood

Brewmasters - Judy Armstrong, Barren Ridge Vineyards, Deedy and Duke Bumgardner, Mary and Henley Carter, Lucinda and Jim Cooke, The Law Offices of Dana R. Cormier, PLC, Susan and George Forschler, Mary Margaret and Stan Link, Jane and Pres Manning, Pat and Harrison May, Cheri and Phil Moran, Beth and Angel Negron, Ann and Page Nelson, Maggie Ragon and Nick Walge, Pam Robbins and Ray Cubbage, Shenandoah Hops, Jan and Bill Walker, Barbara Wimble and William Browning

We Also Wish To Thank - Richard Adams, Judd Bankert, Sandi Belcher, Body and Soul Day Spa, Mary Jo Browning, Nancy Carter Crump, Charles Culbertson, Dancing with Karen, Glen's Fair Price, Steve Helvin, Brent Hisey, Honeybee Florist, Lise Keiter, Mike Lafferty, H.L. Lang & Co., Level 7 Signs, Debbie Metz, Steve Nichols, Susan Polly, Rick Potter, Rask Florist, Shenandoah Trophies, Mike Vayvada, Waynesboro Players, Bob Wright 

did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation