What better way to spend a balmy summer evening than sipping chardonnay and strolling about Drumthwacket’s gracious “backyard,” drinking in the exquisite landscaping and feeling about as close as we Americans can get to starring in a Jane Austen adaptation on Masterpiece Theater? Well that’s what 320 guests did on Saturday, July 12, at the 26th Bastille Day Ball, which raised over $150,000 to benefit of Trinity Counseling Service.

The outdoor bar — anchored by an imposing replica of the Eiffel Tower — was four-deep by 7 p.m., a profusion of tanned shoulders and decolletages and a rainbow of garden party dresses, linen suits and sherbet-colored jackets — including the requisite old-school Princetonian in his riotously colored day-glo print trousers that would make Lilly Pulitzer proud.

Snippets of conversation ranged from comparing gas prices to other “luxury” items like bottled water and Starbucks coffee to one gentleman who introduced his wife as a “domestic engineer.” “That puts me in the $125,000 tax bracket,” she demurred. “Wow,” I replied. “I guess that puts me — a fulltime editor and fulltime mother (is there any other kind, I silently wondered) — in the $250,000 tax bracket. Wait’ll my husband hears about that!”

About 8 p.m. guests entered the giant white tent, tables of 10 seductively decorated with filmy white transparent tablecloths magically illuminated by blue lights under the tables and a sea of frosted votives on top. Party favors were a pair of silver tapers from Ashton-Whyte in Pennington. Almost before the guests finished their first course, courtesy of Main Street Fine Catering, the Renaissance Orchestra kicked in, rocking the house with three different singers who took the crowd on a road trip through the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. By midnight most of the gentlemen had stripped their jackets and their crisp pinpoint oxford shirts were soaked to the skin. I have yet to see a crowd dance like this at a Princeton fundraiser.

About 9 p.m. a deliciously pumped gaggle of sales boys from BMW Princeton waltzed in, apologizing profusely for being late, but they had had to show up at a friend’s wedding reception first. “The food was terrible!" one of them said as they happily sat down to the rest of Main Street’s menu — steak au poivre, fresh tuna nicoise, summer orzo, and for dessert a creme puff filled with brandied pastry cream swimming in a sweet cherry compote.

— Jamie Saxon

For more information on Trinity Counseling Service visit trinitycounseling.org.

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