By Claire Claytonzealandia_masquerade_2014_3

The holiday whiplash can be overwhelming with the quick turn around of tricks and treats to cornucopias and stuffed turkeys, but the recent Masquerade Ball at Zealandia (in its third year) helped make that transition smooth and fun.

The turnout this year was spectacular. Both ladies and gents were dressed to the nines in elaborate masks, sophisticated dresses, black tie suits, furs and silky evening gloves. Guests were dropped off under the portico of the castle, met by stairs lit with beautifully placed tea lights, candles, and hand-painted masks.

In the entrance hall, guests received more information about LEAF and donated money for LEAF Schools and Streets afterschool programs. “We raised more money this year than we have ever raised before,” said Alexandra Clayton, Host of the Masquerade Ball. “We appreciate all who came and are proud to say that each year gets better and better.” Also in the entrance hall, people crowded around a photo booth to capture memories of this magical November night.

Champagne and hors d’oeuvre were served in the ballroom where private tables gently lit under soft shades of red and purple. The fireplace turned into a wall of red roses to create romance and mystery. The atmosphere exuded grandeur and sophistication; Daisy Buchanan would approve.masquerade_zealandia_2014_1

While guests explored hallways and rooms of the century old castle, they stumbled upon a tarot reader upstairs. Kim Strobel of Raven and Crone gave relaxed yet intimate readings. “I was really impressed at the accuracy of my reading. It was light and fun,” said Remy Gritta, guest.

When the dining room opened, guests enjoyed a sumptuous meal catered by Whitt Catering. The menu featured creamy broccoli salad, sweet potato casserole, grilled chicken with pineapple, roast beef and more. While in the buffet line, guests couldn’t help but notice the intricate, continuous mural along the upper wall, trying to decipher its narrative.

The dance floor and open bar buzzed when local band, Sol Rhythms, started to play. The masks made it intriguing and difficult to recognize your dance partner, emphasizing the mystery and playfulness of the party. Sol Rhythms is a mix of Latin styles: bomba, merengue and salsa. Its creative cadence is worldly and unique, which is appropriate for LEAF and all that they stand for.

A multi-award winning magician from Charlotte, Bryan Saint, traveled between tables making guests laugh and gasp in awe with card and illusionary tricks. The Clayton’s also held an auction for a trip to one of Festiva’s Resorts in St. Martin.

After much anticipation and preparation, the 3rd annual Masquerade ball celebrated another year of honoring the arts with LEAF Schools and Streets. “We are so grateful for LEAF and all that they do, thank you to all who participated.

We look forward to seeing you and more of your friends next year!” said Don Clayton, Host of the Masquerade Ball.

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