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January 29th, 2009


by John Wegorzewski and Edward Callaghan

Councilwoman Anna Throne Holst and Town Justice Andrea Schiavoni.

While much of America watched with pleasure as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama swirled around the dance floor at one of the 10 parties they would attend that night, several hundred revelers at The Southampton Inn’s Inaugural Ball cheered with enthusiasm and rattled noisemakers. It could just as easily have been a New Year’s Eve party for all the joy this traditionally Republican town took in laying aside partisan politics and coming together in celebration of the dawning of a new era.

Gordon Herr, himself the newly elected Chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee and Grania and Tip Brolin, organizers of the gala along with Dede Gotthelf Moan, owner of the Southampton Inn, warmly greeted the almost 300 black tie and begowned partiers who braved the ice and sub-freezing temperatures to be part of a historic celebration.

Russell Young’s portraits of president Obama light up Main Street.

So enthusiastic was the turnout that organizers took over not only the Inn’s ballroom but its acclaimed restaurant OSO so that all could be seated for a lavish gourmet dinner of New York strip steak, grilled salmon and risotto with truffle oil, topped off by hazelnut chocolate cake—all prepared by Chef Brian Naylor. Throughout dinner, large screen TV’s displayed the various D.C. affairs and each time Barack and Michelle appeared the crowd spun their noisemakers, blew horns and cheered lustily.

It was a rare opportunity for the Meadow Club set and the town’s old families to mix it up with the Black, Latino and Shinnecock communities—certainly a sign of the changes being wrought with this new administration, even on its first day.

Appropriately, the musical entertainment was as diverse as the audience, with stellar performances by a number of well known artists: Gospel great James Lamb III, former Metropolitan soprano Rhonda Liss, Shinnecock native and internationally acclaimed saxophonist Charles Certain, and noted El Salvadoran singer Carlos Ponce and his Potencia Orchestra.

The gala not only celebrated the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden but also two hard fought battles for Democrats-Sally Pope of Remsenburg, who won the Town Councilwoman seat, and Andrea Schiavoni of the well known Sag Harbor family, who will take over as Town Justice. Also prominent in the crowd were Councilwoman Anna Throne Holst, Lucius Ware, President of the NAACP Eastern Division, Shinnecock Elder Elizabeth Thunderbird Haile, legislator Jay Schneiderman, award winning winemaker Roman Roth of Wolffer Estates with his beautiful wife Dushy, Michael and Valorie Hunter, France Posner, publisher Isabel Sepulveda de Scanlon, Irene Donahue, Pamela Harris, Sandra Ferguson, sculptor Dorothy Frankel, NPR radio host Bonnie Grice, Eve Molyneux, Lee Moorhead, Lisa Votino Tarrant, Nella and Al Lanuto, artist Joe Strand with Eileen Casey, Nicole and Bill Brewer, Emmy award winning actor Mitchell Kriegman, owner of the enormous Wainscott and East Hampton Film Studios, Margaret and Kevin Bodkin, Jackie Worth and Terry Moan.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | News | Politics | the Hamptons





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