The little tea party that makes a big difference is Dec. 6

Friday, November 30, 2007
Silver Tea Party participants come in all sizes. File photo

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The little tea party that makes a great big difference is set to weave its holiday magic once again. The churchwomen of St. James' Episcopal Church of Eureka Springs will hold their 41st Silver Tea Party Dec. 6, and this year it will make a difference for the Carroll County Habitat for Humanity.

That afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., the Crystal Dining Room at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa will host the social gathering that, since 1951, has been a means of raising funds for local and county-wide non-profit organizations.

Past recipients of the benefit include Eureka Springs Public Library, Historical Museum, Hospice, and Hospital Auxiliary, the Lane House youth program, the Flint Street Food Bank, the Carroll County Senior Center, the Boys' and Girls' Club, People Helping People, Club of the Ozarks, and the Eureka Christian Health Outreach (ECHO).

Cookies, tea sandwiches, and beverages are served in silver serving pieces and displayed on tables set with heirloom tablecloths. Holiday decorations and seasonal music create a festive atmosphere. All proceeds after expenses go the designated recipient. Over the years, thousands of dollars have been generated for these worthy non-profits.

The tea is open to the public and admission is by donation. Attendees may put their contributions in the silver bowl at the welcome table.

The event traces its origin to the renowned ballroom dancer Irene Castle (of the Vernon and Irene Castle dance pair, circa early 1900's) who once lived in Eureka Springs, was a member of St. James, and left the church linens and silver pieces for the tea.

From modest beginnings, the benefit has grown in attendance, now attracting hundreds of guests each year. "It was held originally in the St. James' Church undercroft," explained 2007 chairwoman, Suzanne Tourtelot. "Since then it has had several venues. In recent times, through the generosity of Marty and Elise Roenigk, we've been fortunate to hold the tea at the Crescent Hotel.

"It is a joy to attend the Silver Tea," according to publicity chairperson, Laura Shoffner. "The best part is mingling with people of all ages who've come together in that beautiful setting to support a worthy cause that benefits our community."

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