High Tea comes to West Side Tennis Club
by Michael Perlman
Apr 30, 2019 | 2034 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
High Tea at West Side Tennis Club
Organizer James Navarrete eyes the scones with other fashionable attendees.
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The Tudor clubhouse of the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills Gardens was closer than ever to its English roots on Sunday, when members and guests attended “The Queen’s Birthday High Tea,” which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 93rd birthday.

James Navarrete, who joined the club in 2013, proposed the event to Entertainment Committee chair J.P. Evangelista.

“I've been a fan of a proper high tea for some time now and have been fortunate enough to enjoy many, from The Ritz in London to a cruise in Oxford and The Plaza in Manhattan,” Navarrete said. “I was also on the mall of Buckingham Palace, celebrating Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.”

Guests enjoyed British-themed music and a festive table with sandwiches and other snacks designed by club assistant general manager Chris Romita. A lavender and Prosecco tea and classic Earl Grey were among the varieties of tea served.

“A lot of planning has gone into this event from getting the recipes just right, including a taste testing with myself and Nicole Jackson, who also chaired the event,” said Navarrete. “We ordered special teas and strainers and picked fresh hydrangeas from the club gardens.”

A popular attraction was a photo stand where attendees had the opportunity to pose with the Queen. A majority of attendees wore elegant hats and fascinators, and prizes were offered for the best in each category.

“This is fabulous and I feel as if I am in England,” said Preeti Garg. “The ladies were very excited and dressed up, and I love how they all wore fascinators and hats. The music is perfect and the food is amazing.”

Prizes for “Best Hat” were presented to Lamia Beydoun and “Best Fascinator” to Margaret Bigelow, who each won a bottle of Prosecco wine.

“I love any kind of high tea, and the historic setting enhanced by the very British weather seemed so appropriate,” said Denise De Maria, who was joined by her friends Angela Berardino, Gloria Imperante and Barbara Reisch. “I was also impressed by the number of ladies who turned out in their finest hats and fascinators. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new club tradition.”

Forest Hills Gardens was modeled after the planned communities of England and based on Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City movement in 1898.

“It made perfect sense to bring back the tea tradition that used to be celebrated regularly at the Forest Hills Inn's Tea Garden,” said Navarrete. “It makes me sad to have that lovely property not being used to the best of its potential, as images of its glory days inspires me to get creative and resurrect yesterday's tradition.”

Elizabeth Uhlig wore an elegant gold-and-white outfit, a hat with an antique cameo, crown pins, and a necklace sporting a collection of crowns from England, Sweden, and the U.S.

“This is a beautiful experience, and I wish we could always dress this way,” said Uhlig, who was joined by her friends Jessica, Lillian, and Cheryl. “Tomorrow’s my birthday, so it will be an extra celebration. In fact, I am named after Queen Elizabeth, since I was born the year she got her crown.”

Part of Jessica Russo’s British attire consisted of an ornate large silver crown pin

“What I find most appealing is the social aspect,” she said. “It is the experience of stepping away from work and coming together as a community. We live in a modern world and we are very privileged, and sometimes we still find ourselves unhappy or disconnected. Be thankful for life, joy, and the people we get to share each moment with.”

Jill Collins wore a blue-and-white British floral dress complemented by a maroon fascinator.

“For my outfit, I did quite a bit of research,” she said. “The club has never had an event like this since I’ve become a member four years ago. It gave everyone a chance to dress up and be very civilized.”
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