While big ticket benefits with cocktails and sit down dinners have become a de rigueur part of the summer social season out here, there are two local non-profits taking a different tack with fundraising efforts this summer.
This weekend, both the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) and Stages, A Children’s Theatre Workshop, Inc. will host benefits while the sun is still high in the sky. And don’t worry about a babysitter — this time around, kids are encouraged to attend.
“CMEE’s Under The Sea” family fair is Saturday, July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and comes on the heels of last year’s traditional adults only gala which was held for the first time at the museum itself.
“People said, ‘What a gorgeous space, why not always do it here?’” notes Stephen Long, CMEE’s executive director. “The gala had always been instrumental in raising awareness of the museum, people said, ‘Here’s a chance to show what you’ve done.’”
“Since it’s an institution devoted to kids, the fundraiser should include them as well,” adds Long. “I had a lot of parents say even when money is tight, they’ll still spend money on their kids. We wanted a fundraiser that featured the kinds of things we do on a day-to-day basis. There will be art activities, pony rides, petting zoo, bouncy castles, carnival games, magicians, face painters and a balloonologist.”
Also premiering at the event will be the Hamptons TumbleBus, a brand new kids-centered business started by two local moms. From the outside, it’s a regular school bus, but inside, it’s another story. The seats have been removed to make way for a fully equipped gym for tiny tumblers ages 2 to 8, complete with padded floor, rings, a trampoline, balance beam and more. TumbleBus owners — Bridgehampton residents Cathy Wallick and Michelle Kennedy — plan to bring tumbling programs to youngsters all over the East End through schools, libraries and non-profit groups like CMEE.
And like CMEE, which was founded by a group of moms, Wallick and Kennedy, who have five children between them, started Hamptons TumbleBus as a way to address what they saw as a need in the community.
“With the national obesity problem, we wanted to help children by starting them at a young age to develop self confidence, motor skills and a love of fitness that will continue throughout their life,” says Kennedy. “With this program, we can come to people who may not have this kind of thing available. We’re two local moms and we want to develop something for people here, make it affordable and help children.”
“At a young age structure is so important,” adds Wallick. “We do a warm up, sing songs, stretch, then do the circuit followed by a cool down, and the parachute or something else fun. By then, they’re feeling confident and know exactly what they’re doing. You can see it in their faces when they get it — and they keep moving — they’re not sitting around.”
Also not sitting around are the young actors of Stages — founder Helene Leonard has long made sure of that. The acting program has trained legions of East End children, and on Sunday, July 26, five of Leonard’s teenage actresses will transform into fairy tale princesses for an afternoon of tea and face time with little fans ages 3 and up at the first annual “Princess Party” from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Grenning, Gallery, 17 Washington Street in Sag Harbor.
“It’s by kids, for kids,” says Leonard. “It came out of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the way the little girls reacted to the characters. It’s so wonderful. This is how powerful theater can be.”
Princesses will be stationed throughout the space and little girls will have a chance to talk to them and have their photos taken. There will also be a performance and an auction with the types of items little girls love. The party also features goodie bags, cake, a chocolate fountain and, of course, a place to buy tiaras and wands. If all goes well, next year Leonard hopes to include a pirate component to satisfy all the little boys as well.
“We thought how nice to make it an event that would be different and you’d want to take your children to,” says Leonard. “It’s not standing around at a cocktail party, writing a check and going home. It’s unusual to be able to include your children in a benefit situation. I think people are looking for something different to do.”
“Dads are welcome to come too,” adds Leonard. “Princesses need their escorts.”
Stages’ princess party is $60 for an adult and child. Additional children are $35 each. No reservations are required and princess attire is recommended.
CMEE’s family fun fair is $500 for a family of four. Individual tickets are $125 ($90 for children). CMEE is located at 376 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike. Call 537-8250 to reserve.