Great Gatsby Gala on Oct. 3 will benefit Carroll, Frederick hospices


TANEYTOWN -- Michael E. Sell wants to turn glitter and glamour into gold for Carroll Hospice.

The general manager of Antrim 1844, a historic home converted to a bed and breakfast inn, is coordinating the Great Gatsby Gala benefit for hospices in Carroll and Frederick counties on Oct. 3.

Mr. Sell hopes hundreds of guests will "camp it up a bit" and get into the spirit of the evening with Gatsby attire, detailed in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the Roaring '20s.

He suggests black tie or a tailored suit for the men and beaded or chiffon cocktail dresses, headbands and string pearls for the ladies.

Denise Koch, news anchor at WJZ-TV, who will act as honorary chair for the event, said she might have to search her attic for a Gatsby dress.

"I can manage string pearls and a headband easily, though," she said with a laugh.

Mr. Sell said he is hoping about 600 people will join in the merrymaking.

"We are putting on the Ritz under the stars," he said.

In case rain clouds hide those stars, tents with crystal chandeliers will protect guests from the weather. Landscapers are donating their talents and hundreds of brilliant fall flowers to decorate.

"We have done several weddings here in tents," said Mr. Sell. "Once inside, people couldn't care less about the weather. "We are going to tent the entire tennis court and make a dance floor, where guests can really cut a rug."

Four bands will help with the rug-cutting, providing sounds to suit every musical taste. A Dixieland band will play lively tunes from the mansion's columned front porch to greet arriving guests. Sedate strings, whose musicians have played at White House dinners, will add an air of elegance and a 15-piece orchestra will encourage all onto the dance floor.

In addition to Ms. Koch, several celebrity guests have promised Mr. Sell they will attend. Bob Turk and Marty Bass, also from WJZ, have sent their RSVP's. Other celebrities may act as waiters to surprise the guests.

"We make a decision, based on the cause, as to which events we will attend," said Ms. Koch. "This was a great cause."

Two years ago, Antrim was the scene of an Antebellum Ball that benefited the Historical Society of Carroll County. The first-time event, which cost $75 per guest, was a great success, said Mr. Sell.

For this benefit, Mr. Sell said he again had no trouble getting donations.

"Hospice has touched so many lives that people are eager and ready to help," he said. "I didn't have to do any selling. I just told people what I was planning."

Last week, Mr. Sell mailed 150 invitations to the event, which costs $100 per guest. Each hospice will send another 750 invitations.

"We hope the word is spreading," he said. "Those who don't receive an invitation can just call and make a reservation."

Doors to the mansion will open at 7 p.m. for cocktails and a silent auction. After a Hamptons buffet, the evening will proceed with a live auction of five "very special" items.

"Gifts donated to our silent auction have really blown me away," he said, detailing a list which includes antiques, art work and weekend getaways.

One donation is a $4,000 trip to a golf resort in Florida. It includes a week of greens fees.

Everything from tents to music to use of the inn for the evening has been donated, Mr. Sell said.

"Our only expense will be food, and I want to get elaborate with it," he said. "I will make sure no one goes home hungry."

He is planning cocktails and elegant finger foods in keeping with the Hamptons theme.

Dessert may be the evening's crowning glory.

"Ten restaurants from the two counties will present a dessert buffet, which their pastry chefs will serve," he said.

Mr. Sell hopes the evening brings in about $18,000 for the two hospices to share. He is working now to get the support of area corporations.

"I promise there will be enough going on to give you your money's worth," he said. "We can all have a good time and make a profit for a good cause."

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