In the summer of 2014 the Red Hook Library was on Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) chopping block because it was the most underutilized in the borough. Now, the branch has been resuscitated under the creative leadership of the Friends of the Red Hook Library.
On Saturday, February 25, the Friends and friends transformed the entire library into a carnival space. The shelves were lined with hand-decorated festive coverings.
Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans dangled from the ceiling. Tables were festooned with brightly colored fabrics and centerpieces.
The Masquerade Ball was a benefit to raise funds for the library. All monies raised through the Friends supports the Red Hook Library directly.
Minnetta Brown, Friends President, orchestrated the decorations. She and her Vice President, Roslyn “Roz” Chapman made many of the adorations. Volunteers, Friends, and friends of Friends helped with the day of setup. Nearly 20 local institutions contributed food, silent auction items, and beer and wine.
Local musicians from two bands – BERST and The Ziggernauts – jammed all night long. Their music included an eclectic range from Frank Sinatra to James Brown, and even a few original tunes. The happy crowd had ample dancing space, and Friends member Dawn Blondel led the group in a few rounds of line dancing.
Friends Treasurer Kimberly G. Price contributed her ideas and beads from her southern Louisiana past. “This feels like a New Orleans Mardi Gras party!” she said.
The conference room was filled with food from local businesses. Hometown sent a chef to build the fresh pulled pork sliders they are so well known for. Mark’s Pizza offered fresh cheese pies, the Lobster Pound sent mac and cheese, and Court Street Grocers sent two 6-foot sandwiches. F&M Bagels’ chicken parmesan was the first empty tray, and the US Fried Chicken flew from its boxes! Wade’s Dilemma sent wine and beer to keep the party going late. The 99-cent store on Lorraine Street donated hot air to fill the balloons.
Alongside homemade king cakes, a donated cake that split into individual cupcakes, and gooey chocolate brownies donated by Viviana Gordon of the Justice Center, Steve’s Key Lime Pie dominated the dessert table with their chocolate covered key lime pies – known as “swindles” to hardcore key limers.
Every silent auction item sold – several for more than face value. Generous businesses donated tempting gift cards to support Friends and the library including Dry Dock, Botta di Vino, Baked, Brooklyn Crab, Brooklyn Ice House, Home/Made, Kevin’s, Hope & Anchor, and the Good Fork.
Wally Bazemore showed up dressed as Zorro, while Roz donned her full Cleopatra costume. Others wore their own masks they made at the Masquerade Ball. Gypsies, jinglers, and revelers dressed fancy or in costumes. But no matter what one was wearing, the good times were rolling for all.
“I am still smiling thinking about it and how much fun it was!” Alyce Erdekian, Friends of the Red Hook Library Secretary, said.
For a great cause, of course
The event raised a record amount for the Friends of the Red Hook Library, but the group did not disclose how much was raised. The funds will be used to purchase things for the library such as books, shelving units, seating options, and other materials.
Brian Hasbrouck, Adult Services Librarian – or Library Rockstar – said, “What I really enjoyed about the event was that so many different walks of life from Red Hook all mingled together at the library. It once again proves that the library is a central place for all of the people of Red Hook.”
The Friends of the Red Hook Library is a volunteer group who raise money and advocate for this branch. The group meets every first Thursday of the month. To get involved, donate or for more information contact Sandra Sutton, Branch Manager, or Brian Hasbrouck at (718) 935-0203.