By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Staff Writer
Arriving early is often considered as rude as showing up late, but being “on time” to an epic event like the Seabrook Island Club’s 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee comes with its own risks. The psyche is plagued by questions like: Will there be a place to park? Does “Country Club Casual” really include dressing like a pirate? Will there be enough desserts for anybody else? Answers to these and other questions were provided with noble and enthusiastic grace during the April 30, 2016 event of the quarter century.
One alcove of the SIC Island House opened to a picture booth. Friends and couples lined up, mingled, crowded together and laughed as they tried on assortments of costumes in unlikely combinations like swords and feather boas, top hats and maracas. The line moved almost too quickly with participants undecided if posing for a picture was more fun than watching someone else, showing a jovial sense of community. It was a good place to lose the eye patch, too, since the dress code was predominantly jackets without a tie or tie without a jacket for men and the usual “oh, this old thing?” for women. Members requested the traditionally “black tie” event be more casual to accommodate dancing but the change didn’t detract from a lavish dinner.
Classical musicians Filip Pogády and Peter Fančovič presided over an elegant dinner on the second floor which included everything imaginable, distributed between seven different stations throughout Island House. The first four stations included; hors d’oeuvres, cheeses and fruit in every variety, a seafood and raw bar, and soups and salads. The fifth was called an “Action Station” with half a dozen made to order dishes, while the sixth was a “carving station” with another half dozen delectable options. Lucky number seven was reserved for desserts and described only as “Sweet Displays” or “Pastry Chef’s Mini Desserts.” The description didn’t do justice to the collection.
The good news was there would be more than enough for everybody. The entire room in the south east wing of Island House was filled with “Sweet Displays” and staff took the “display” part quite seriously. Empty spots on trays, tables, bowls and pans were filled as quickly as they appeared. Both the wise, who “eat dessert first” as well as the practical, who wait to “eat sweets after dinner” were indulged and the calories would come in handy.
The Atlantic Room was used for dinner, sure, but had long since evolved into the heart of the party. The Atlanta Pleasure Band packed the dance floor with flawless renditions of contemporary music and enough enthusiasm to burn up shovelfuls of petit fours. The dance floor was still full and the party going strong well into the morning hours. Seabrook residents can teach college students a thing or two about how to have a good time.
“One of our main goals for the 25th Anniversary Party was to honor the members [of] the Seabrook Island Club, those that have been with us for 25 years and those that have been with us for one,” Michelle Duplessis, Banquet and Events Manager for SIC, said. “It can be quite a feat to entertain such a wide [ranging group but] judging by the dance floor, we nailed it. I have had the pleasure of working for Seabrook Island Club for eight years and this was by far the most fun I have had planning an event. It’s great to see such a positive response from our membership.” The route to parties like this wasn’t always awesome, however.
Seabrook based developer Robert Russell fell on hard times in 1989. Two years later, foreclosure proceedings left residents without the amenities which added so much to Seabrook’s allure.
Residents, including the current mayor, Ron Ciancio, remember dandelions sprouting across Seabrook’s untended golf courses. The worry such conditions generated only increased as rumors of “outside” investors began to circulate.
Twelve core residents drafted a business plan to purchase the foreclosed assets. Their “more the merrier” idea required a minimum of 500 participants and the “On Board by April” campaign was launched. The plan succeeded, too.
The exercise in social activism produced a package of cash and loans which satisfied lenders. Adorned by a white rose corsage used to designate members of this group for the 25th anniversary was SIC member and one time President (1997) Claire Allen.
Allen, who proudly says she and her husband, James, were the 50th members of “On Board by April,” she credited the campaign with saving Seabrook not only for residents but also for visitors. She is also a fan of the “Island One” effort which makes every property owner a member of SIC (approximately 1,800 enrolled), and the Horizon Plan, which has replaced many of Seabrook’s communal buildings and infrastructure. It makes for a stronger community says Allen who then introduced her son, current SIC President David Allen.
Seabrook now has two championship golf courses. Both Crooked Oaks and Ocean Winds golf courses are certified members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf. Seabrook’s tournament-grade tennis center boasts 15 professionally maintained Har-Tru courts and 2 pickle ball courts. The center hosts the Alan Fleming Senior Tournament each year and the island also has a fullservice equestrian center, a fitness and aquatics center and plenty of unspoiled beaches. You can accomplish a lot in 25 years with the right people and a strong sense of community. Both of which were on full display at the Seabrook Island Club’s 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee.