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.
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