The 2023 Sugar Cane Ball, the penultimate event of Hanover Charities' week of fun and fund-raising, was held Saturday, February 18 at Round Hill Hotel & Villas. It was a much welcomed return. The last such gathering, Rio Extravaganza, had taken place on Saturday, February 15, 2020 mere months before the world shuttered its borders and went into battle mode against COVID-19.
Sugar Cane Ball Chair Lise Murphy and event committee members demonstrated an acute awareness not only of the times in which we live — yes! even the uber wealthy — but too, the seismic shifts that have taken place since vaccines, masks and Lysol were par for the course. The theme 'An Evening in Casablanca' took inspiration from the movie Casablanca that starred screen sirens Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a war time romance that ended with the memorable line: Here's looking at you kid! Words that would forever be cemented in perpetuity in the annals of history. The war time movie speaks to uncertain times, loyalty, courage and espionage. Location: Morroco. Primary setting: Rick's Café.
The much-anticipated ball attracted some 300 patrons who seemingly all arrived, as the French would say, à l'heure, stepping elegantly on the hotel's signature black and white tiles.
The step-and-repeat strategically placed board attracted both patrons and paparazzi eager to capture the global fabulocracy. There was, too, a designated screening area for those desirous of watching the movie Casablanca during the Aperol Spritz cocktail hour.
The silent and live auctions were the next step for many. And what do those who seemingly have it all bid on? How about autographed boxing gloves compliments of former heavyweight boxing champ Lennox Lewis or a training session? Or an afternoon with British High Commissioner Judith E Slater? Why not raise the paddle for stays at Sandals Whitehouse, Margaritaville or Anguilla? "Ignore what the items actually cost and bid to raise money for a worthy cause," urged Josef Forstmayr, the evening's compère.
The goal of the night: to raise money for the Hanover Charities, named after the parish that is home to the cashmere-chic Round Hill Hotel, and founded by shareholders of Round Hill and Tryall in 1957. "We're sending more people to university than any other charity. "Give more than you want, give more than you can, and you'll be rewarded tenfold," Forstmayr added.
And give they did! Remember the before-mentioned training with heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis? Well, Vogel Group CEO Alex Vogel was outbid by real estate giant and philanthropist Heinz Lang who won with a bid of US$10,000. Third time's the charm proved true for auctioneer Rachael White Young, whose much-anticipated third appearance at the Sugar Cane Ball soon became one of her best. White Young's expertise and charm inspired Sugar Cane Ball event committee member Manuela Goren and her husband, Brazilian Honorary Consul to the North Coast James Goren and philanthropists Paula and Danny Wegman to up a US$73,000 bid on the Container of Love to a whopping US$95,000. The concerted effort was the highlight of the evening.
Hanover Charities Container of Love originated from the demand to meet the needs of the many partner schools, organisations, and communities supported by Hanover Charities. The goal each year is to annually fill a 40-ft container with the necessary items to support partners. Containers are imported each summer before the beginning of the academic year with goods such as school supplies, clothes, toiletries, medical equipment, educational devices, non-perishable food items, etc. Once items are distributed, Hanover Charities gifts the container to a community site aiding learning in Hanover.
And as is customary, at the very end of the gala, guests took over the dance floor — singer Crystal Bruce backed by the Sahaba band kept the mood upbeat. Forstmayr was spot on in his decree that "Giving makes one feel so much better!"
Since 2006, Katrin Casserly has been the devoted chair of the board of Hanover Charities. Casserly and her team have taken Hanover Charities to new levels. SO reckons, next year will be even more profitable.