2015-10-05 / Front Page

Off to the Ball, the Biddeford Ball

By TAMMY WELLS
Senior Staff Writer


Above: Inside the Pepperell Mill space is a view of the masquerade Biddeford Ball, which was held Saturday night. Right top: The fundraiser drew a crowd of folks to the Pepperell Mill complex. Pictured, left to right, are: Polly Nodden, Alleen Eastwood, Sue Maccalous, Elaine Robinson and Toni Sipka. Right bottom: Fire dancer Marita Kennedy-Castro of Portland entertained outside the Pepperell Mill complex in Biddeford as folks waited in line to get into the ball. 
TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune Above: Inside the Pepperell Mill space is a view of the masquerade Biddeford Ball, which was held Saturday night. Right top: The fundraiser drew a crowd of folks to the Pepperell Mill complex. Pictured, left to right, are: Polly Nodden, Alleen Eastwood, Sue Maccalous, Elaine Robinson and Toni Sipka. Right bottom: Fire dancer Marita Kennedy-Castro of Portland entertained outside the Pepperell Mill complex in Biddeford as folks waited in line to get into the ball. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune BIDDEFORD — Sparkle, lace, lovely dresses, top hats and tuxes were all in vogue Saturday as folks from Biddeford and beyond turned out for the Biddeford Ball.

The event, in the Pepperell Mill complex, was a fundraiser for a couple of projects: The first, to light up the smokestack – that towering reminder of the days when the mill district here was abuzz with the toil of workers, creating textiles for the world – and the second, to help the Biddeford Mill Museum on their way to an opening.

At the ball, a masquerade this year, folks donned a variety of intricate masks – perhaps not really masking their identify, but adding a punch of mystery to the evening.

Roxi Suger and her husband Julian Schlaver planned and organized the first Biddeford Ball in 2014. This year, they decided to add some spark by making it a masquerade.

Inside the primary venue – the vast lobby of Building 13 at the Pepperell Mill – sparkly lights hung at the ceiling illuminated the space and a big band played danceable tunes.

On hand to offer ballgoers “Spooky tours” of the vast lagoons underneath the mills were representatives of the Biddeford Mill Museum, former mill workers Pete Lamontagne and Don Guillerault, who are exceedingly familiar with every nook and cranny of the mill complex, with 38 and 43 years respectively, working there. They hope to open the museum sometime in 2016.

Outside, as the line of ball-goers formed along the red-carpeted entrance to the event, an African drum group pounded out a beat as fire dancer Marita Kennedy-Castro expertly combined intricate and smooth dance moves, all the while twirling balls of fire .

Toni Sipka was dressed in a full-skirted black and white outfit, “channeling my Scarlet O’Hara,” said the host of the Biddeford Public Access show called “Toni Time.”

She was among a bevy of Biddeford ladies, one sporting a feather-trimmed lorgnette, ready to dance and nibble delectable treats created and served by a number of local purveyors.

David and Sherry Kessler of Buxton, who both work in Biddeford, were among the guests.

“We love Biddeford and we love what’s happening here,” Sherry Kessler said of Biddeford’s renaissance.

The inaugural Biddeford Ball in 2014 raised nearly $20,000 to benefit local food pantries and a facade program to restore the Marble Block building on Main Street.

Suger, a fashion designer who founded the clothing line Angelrox in New York in 1999 and moved its headquarters to the Pepperell Mill in 2013, said the Biddeford Ball is designed to bring people together to celebrate and give back to the community.

On Saturday, as dusk fell and the lines grew with folks anticipating the evening ahead, Suger said she was ecstatic at the turnout.

“This will be so memorable,” she promised.

Robin Swennes was among those who attended and later commented on Facebook.

“It was a fabulous event, well done,” she said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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