Ballet Theatre hosts a drive-up holiday tea party

Kent Weeklies
Signs for the Winterful Tea Party were donated by Hudson small business, Sassy Grass DeSigns, which is owned by Hudson resident Mara Teti.
All of the dancers are members of Ballet Theatre of Ohio and students at the Meneer School of Dance. The only exception is Drosselmyer, Joshua Isley, who has been in every production of BTO’s Nutcracker for 28 years. Pictured from left in back are: Lexi Dudones, Rachel Sulek, Abby Minear, Rylie Banks, Dominic Gomez and Joshua Isley; and in front: Quin Prado, Sara Sarkisian, Blake Prado and Elena Gomez.
Ballet Theatre of Ohio’s Artistic Director is Christine Meneer, who is not pictured.
Pictured are dancers Abby Minear, left, and Rachel Sulek.
Performing during the Winterful Tea Party are Rylie Banks, left, and Quin Prado.
Patrick Filipovitz is making his way through the pickup line and pauses to let Amelia Filipovitz share her wish list with Santa and Mrs.Claus.

Nothing is the same as last year, so why not try something new. Rainbow Circle of Friends of the Western Reserve hosted a drive-up fundraiser to benefit UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital at a home on Hines Hill Road in Hudson.

The pandemic has made changes to how we celebrate many of favorite holiday traditions including attending annual performances of "The Nutcracker." Instead of a traditional event, the Winterful committee hosted a drive-through style pickup line for their donors. Orders were placed in advance for tea party meals provided by The Cleveland Field Kitchen which consisted of delicately cut sandwiches, scones, and cookies.

On Dec. 5 between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., supporters of a Winterful Tea drove through a whimsical world of colorful signs, watched a 30-step dance to the “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, and also had the opportunity to chat with Santa and Mrs. Claus from the safety of their vehicles.

The tea was provided by Angela Strach-Gotthardt, owner of Hudson-based Secret Tea Society, who hand-curated three distinct teas to accompany the meal. Donors also had the option to purchase a winter-themed arrangement with greens and red and white flowers supplied by Rosie Standish of Field of Blooms.

“We didn’t know how it would look this year with our Winterful Tea, but this team of ladies reinvented the event, and in some ways, I think it was better than the first year because it just meant more this year, shared Susie Schmitt, a Winterful Tea committee member. “Everything means a little more this year.”

A Winterful Tea was launched in December 2019 to bring a multigenerational holiday event to Ohio’s Western Reserve. Last year’s event was at Inn Walden and raised over $12,000 for UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and was a traditional tea party where family and friends gathered and delighted in each other’s company.

“We are hoping this year’s event makes just as much if not a little more,” shared Patty Owens, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation Trustee. “I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for these wonderful ladies and friends who share in the passion of helping others.”

“The dancers had a wonderful time at the event and we thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital for the Winterful Tea this year,” shared Kelly Meneer, of Ballet Theatre of Ohio. “Children are the heart of Ballet Theatre of Ohio. Every year, it gives us the most pleasure to make a child’s eyes light up when they see our Nutcracker and we love to carry that same joy into the community any way we can. There is nothing better than bringing magic to a child. It’s wonderful to collaborate with Rainbow Babies because they know just how much that means as well.”

In 1887, nine women met on Thanksgiving Day to form an organization dedicated to caring for children in Cleveland. That organization eventually grew into today's Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation.

In the spirit of these women, a group of women from Aurora and Hudson, who include, Sarah Filipovitz (Hudson), Meredith Hudec (Hudson), Megan Cook (Hudson), Patty Owens (Aurora), Sarah Zarlinga (Aurora) and Susie Schmitt (Hudson) have joined forces to create a new fundraising circle to follow the philanthropic tradition of these remarkable women. A Rainbow Circle of Friends can be any size or group of people who want to support UH Rainbow -- a school club, a business or religious group, or just a group of like-minded friends -- who have been touched by Rainbow. Circles can provide materials, volunteers or raise money for important programs benefiting sick and injured children. A Circle can range from an informal one-time get-together to a more structured, ticketed event.

For more information on Ballet Theatre of Ohio,call Kelly Meneer, assistant artistic director/marketing director at 330-688-6065 (office) or (mobile) 330-612-3704.