Mad Hatter Mania takes over Long Bay Symphony fundraiser in Myrtle Beach area

01/27/2013 11:00 AM

01/28/2013 7:00 AM

The Long Bay Symphony wears many hats – in the kind of music in its concerts and in its various events and activities all year.

The orchestra will celebrate its silver anniversary with a “Mad Hatter Mania” dinner and dance benefit at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach.

Coordinating this evening with a group of five other people really has gotten to Joanne Milnor’s head. The coordinator of this evening answered the phone for this telephone interview last week with the greeting: “Hatter house, the hare speaking.”

An old-school football fan who still misses the Baltimore Colts team that was moved in 1984 to Indianapolis, Milnor said she will play the “March Hare” at this party that will include an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, and other people will take parts such as the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. She called involvement with this night “just magical for me.”

Question | How did this idea for a fundraiser come about? Was it Red Hat Society-inspired?

Answer | No, I sit on the symphony’s marketing committee ... and we started talking last year about how we could celebrate the orchestra’s 25-year anniversary. So we all agreed we needed some kind of gala that was unique. We tossed around a couple of different themes, and “Mad Hatter Mania” took over the conversation. We thought about how we can develop this theme into something that would be a fun party and still provide the same dinner, dancing and silent auction that other fundraisers have.

Q. | Just how elaborate will this evening get?

A. | We will have the queen’s croquet, which is in the rose garden. ... We’ll have the card people; the queen had clubs and spades as her bodyguards. You play with that with flamingos, which are the mallets. ... The wickets are the playing cards. ... That’s just for fun, what I call a diversion activity from the events.

Q. | Just how high a gear will this hat affair go, with the competition in various categories?

A. | Wearing a hat or competing in the hat contest is another aspect, but that’s optional; it’s not required. Some people will probably be voyeurs, who just come and watch the hat people, and some people will create some kind of fancy hat. We’ll have 10 different categories.

Q. | With the hat-making classes given this month at the Art & Soul gallery in Myrtle Beach, and who know what people might have at home, how wild might that creations get that people will don?

A. | We’ll have 10 different themes. ... We even have one for “This Old Hat.” ... At the concert this past weekend, I ran into some people who said, “Oh, I don’t have a hat.” And I said, “Do you have an old hat from the ‘50s, or your mother’s hat or whatever? Wear that because that’s one of the categories: This Old Hat.”

Q. | Might this evening start a new tradition? And how was its date chosen, especially falling the day before the Super Bowl?

A. | I’m hoping this is just the first of many annual events. ... I’m from Baltimore, where they have a Mad Hatter gala every year. ... We looked at the city calendar ... then the Chamber of Commerce’s, to avoid any time and to work around another organization’s event. ... Also, January is kind of like getting Christmas decorations down, and so on. It’s kind of like the doldrums by the end of January, so we thought, let’s do something in February that will give everybody a boost.

Q. | How is this kind of event a reminder that the symphony and its value and place in the community go beyond music and concerts?

A. | It shows that we are more than just classical music ... with the education and programs we provide. We’ve been out, promoting events ... such as attending newcomer meetings, to remind them we have this orchestra. When I moved here, I came here to play golf and be in the sun. All of a sudden, I found out we have an orchestra, and who would have thought that in a little beach town. And, along with the art museum, Carolina Master Chorale, and all the things at Coastal Carolina University, and Brookgreen Gardens – I belong to all of them.

Q. | So what hats are you eager to flash on Saturday, even without your competing for any prizes?

A. | One of the categories is for all green where everything came from nature. ... So part of the evening, I will have an all-green hat, and then I’m going to wear a beautiful hat, for the Birds & Bees category, and I would love to wear this one to church, but they would probably ask me to leave.

Q. | What tickles your creativity with this kind of art?

A. | I think it’s because I don’t want to grow up, like the little kid having a dress-up part and serving teas. And the hat making has been really fun, because I’ve collected all these things for recycled hat, making flowers out of egg cartons. ... It’s like I’ll look at something, and think, “Oh, that could be a flower.”

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