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The Hagerstown Tea Party

Children learn lessons at party

Children learn lessons at party

April 28, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

In the "Land of Tea and Cookies," the ladies wore fur stoles that fell off narrow shoulders and the gentlemen donned jackets that fell below their knees.

At a Sunday afternoon tea party at The Women's Club in Hagerstown, "The Queen of Hearts" entertained about 40 guests, most of them children, all of them dressed in ties, pearls, gloves or boas.

Amber Desantis, 6, wore a wide-brimmed pink hat, flowing with big satin bows, which sat atop her dark brown hair, curled tightly like Shirley Temple's locks.

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Her favorite part of the party, she said, after taking a sip from her teacup full of apple cider, was the cupcakes.

Mary Margaret O'Connell, 6, who had a turquoise shawl draped over her shoulders, said she enjoyed the cookies the most, especially those with pink sprinkles.

"I picked out the clothes myself," she said.

Her mother, Kathleen O'Connell, 50, of Hagerstown, who was sipping tea behind her daughter, complimented Mary Margaret on her good taste.

Although she said Mary Margaret has a very active imagination - she bought into the idea that "The Queen of Hearts" invited her to the party - the more important lesson for her daughter was socialization.

"This teaches them how to behave; that you have to sit down and use your napkins and make conversations with the rest of the table," she said.

"The Queen of Hearts" sat upon a throne perched on the club auditorium stage. Wearing a purple and gold gown and holding a scepter made from yellow, pink and red balloons, she called to her attendant, "Miss Charlotte," who arranged for the queen to receive outside visitors.

Henry Costa, 10, scrunched his nose at the activity brimming in the room.

"This thing is really weird because there are Queens of Hearts ..." he said.

A woman burst through the swinging kitchen doors.

"There's a man in there!" she screeched. "A man who wants to audition for the highness!"

"And things like this," Henry whispered.

The woman, "Cookie," wearing a rag dress and tattered hat, threw her hands up in the air and walked back into the kitchen in a storm.

"Cookie," or Nancy Chase, was the chairman of the second annual Children's Tea Party. She made many of the sweets for the event, which she said allows children to experiment with their imaginations.

"They're too young to realize it, but life is what you make of it," she said. "You've got to make it fun, and they're making it fun."

After "Miss Charlotte" asked permission, a weary juggler tossed balls, pins and boxes for the queen's entertainment. After his performance, she knighted him with a cardboard sword.

"The Queen of Hearts," Maryanne Litzinger, said the tea party reminded her of her childhood.

"Every little girl wants to pretend they're a princess, but the tea party helps them to socialize and learn some etiquette," she said.

Waiter George Fuscsick, 79, wearing a black bow tie and vest, was busy walking back and forth from the kitchen to refill his porcelain bunny decorated teapot.

He said a majority of the children were very courteous.

"It's good to see them play up a little bit," he said.

Taylor Litzinger, 8, wearing a sports coat that almost swallowed him, said he had fun.

"I don't think I really learned anything," he said. "But I liked the acts and I liked that my grandma was 'The Queen of Hearts.'"

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