It takes one hell of an event planner to transform the Hyatt Regency ballroom into something that looks like, well, not a ballroom. A trompe l’oeil backdrop of a Russian ballroom reminiscent of the eras of Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy set the stage. The tables, surrounded by gold matte satin-covered chairs had three kinds of centerpieces: dress forms with hand-sewn ballet tutus inspired by Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake ballets; spilling spheres of elegant pink Esperance roses and Mimi Eden garden roses; and harps and spires sitting amidst old books by Russian authors like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Outside the ballroom was a winter forest of snow white ice trees.

The award in my book for best decor goes to co-creators Jennifer Angelo of Jennifer Angelo Design in Abington, PA, and Event FX in Collingdale, PA. Marie Miller gets best costume award for outfitting the Dream Search interactive theater cast with costumes from American Repertory Ballet and McCarter Theater.

This year’s white-tie Dreams of Petrovskaya gala, with 400 guests, raised $100,000 for Eden Autism Services’ programs. Eden is in the midst of a $7 million capital campaign, launched in 2009 to build a new school and to set up an endowment fund to bridge the gap between what the state provides for adults with autism and the services that Eden provides.

I spent a good deal of the cocktail hour seeking out men who actually wore white tie, which, as any Emily Post aficionado knows, is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. First white tie spotted: Ernie Ferrigno, the executive chef for UPS in Mahwah. Second white tie: Tom McCool, president and CEO of Eden. Third white tie: Peter Franco of Peter Franco Spa and Salon in Lawrenceville and co-chair of the event.

And what were all those Wawa managers doing there? The event honored Wawa Inc., which has employed Eden’s adults with autism for nearly 30 years and is the organization’s most significant corporate supporter. Also honored was Robert E. Humes, immediate past board chair of Eden and a retired executive with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Munich Re-America.

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Photos: Frank Wojciechowski

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