Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:14

RSVP: An Evening at Yaddo

By Trina Lucas | Entertainment

Spencer and Katrina Trask would have been thrilled to see the sell-out crowd fill the Great Hall of Yaddo Mansion on Tuesday evening. Like parties held more than a century ago, the annual Summer Benefit bubbled with excitement. 

Festivities kicked off upstairs with a special reception saluting the many generous underwriters that made the night a success before it even started. Thanks to lead donors Stacie and Michael Arpey, Paradigm Capital Management/CL King & Associates, The Fort Miller Group, Myrtle Street Obstetrics & Gynecology, the New York Racing Association, Thomas Newkirk, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Allerdice Building Supply, CDPHP, Crawford Door & Window Sales, Empire Broadcasting, the Higgins Family Foundation, Stuyvesant Plaza and countless others, more than $120,000 was already raised.

At the foot of the grand staircase, event chair Michele Jacobs and her husband Jason, greeted friends with champagne toasts. Seen mingling near the silent auction were Bridget Mason, Cindy Munter, Skip and Colleen Carlson, Tab and Will Orthwein, Samantha Parker, John Daley, Mary and Rich Flaherty, E. Stewart and Kimberly Sanger Jones, Marcia and Bob Miller and Shane Williams-Ness. 

The highlight of the celebration began at 8 p.m. as guests were seated in the Music Room. After a brief welcome from Jacobs, President Elaina Richardson took the microphone to thank the audience and recognize honoree Anne Palamountain on the occasion of her 90th year. Palamountain has been an extraordinary Yaddo supporter for many, many years. 

Richardson then introduced award-winning author Andrew Solomon, a Director of The Corporation of Yaddo. Solomon, a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics and the arts, is also an activist in LGBT rights and mental health, frequently called upon by the media for commentary. His most recent book is the best-selling “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity,” winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction. 

Solomon captivated everyone with stories of families he met in the 11 years spent writing this work. He spoke eloquently for more than 30 minutes with nothing more than a sketched outline in front of him, sharing his insight on the two kinds of identities people carry: those passed down generationally, or vertically; and the horizontal identities acquired through fate and circumstance, like deafness in a child of hearing parents, autism and homosexuality. He also defined the differences between love and acceptance. The first being innate, but not automating the second, which is a process and must be earned, even for children, from parents. 

His presentation was remarkable, ending in a standing ovation. Solomon answered questions before closing for the post-program party on the porch. 

Quickly moving across the hall, attendees spilled outside undeterred by the crisp June chill. An expansive spread featured signature hors d’oeuvres donated by close to 20 area restaurants, including The Brook Tavern, Circus Café, Boca Bistro, Longfellows and Sperry’s. Joseph Carr Wines and J. Lohr Vineyards provided beverages to complement the food.

Seen at the party were committee members Traci Jersen, Brendan Flanigan and Tamie Ehinger, as well as Laura Chodos, Walt Adams, Beverly Alves, Cindy and Brien Hollowood, Jill and Mike DeAnzeris and Rick Partyka. 

The grounds of Yaddo, declared a National Historic Landmark earlier this year, include wooded and open areas, lakes and gardens which have provided time and space to over 6,000 artists since 1926. They can count among them 68 Pulitzer Prizes, 68 National Book Awards, a Nobel Prize, three Academy Awards and countless other honors. Locally, Yaddo contributes more than $2.6 million into the economy each year, including grants and contributions that are raised nationally from individuals, foundations, corporations and government agencies. And this weekend, as since 1912, the Yaddo Medal, crafted by Tiffany & Co., will be presented to a young man and woman in the graduating class of Saratoga Springs High School to honor their academic achievement and personal character. To learn more, visit

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