Blast of a party benefits First Serve NM - Albuquerque Journal

Blast of a party benefits First Serve NM

First, Serve New Mexico … then have a big blast of a party!

Eleanor Brenner’s parties are legendary. She has hand-painted china for 500. Hand-blown wine stems a foot high, constantly being refilled by the alert Albert. The amazing Pink Flamingos playing on the tented terrace. Candles. Flowers. The zebra-painted aspen trees. The magnificent view of the Sangres from the terrace and succulent passed hors d’oeuvres!

But, mostly, it’s the people who come … around 200 stunning ladies and interesting men. Fashionable fashions – designer, vintage, ethnic. Scintillating banter. And deep pockets filled with goodwill.

The fundraiser for First Serve is no ordinary benefit. A small auction of large items helps to support the foundation Eleanor founded with her recently late husband Richard Brenner. The dynamic tycoon of Seventh Avenue could have rested on her laurels – didn’t have to go to work, especially in her 70s!

But she has thrown her considerable energies and talents into First Serve, a program she designed for Santa Fe youth who might otherwise have few prospects in life. She gives them high aspirations and a helping hand. Eleanor is there every afternoon after school, like a strict and benevolent grandmother, taking a personal interest in every child.

It’s a lifestyle program for teens: healthy body, healthy mind, discipline; tennis, with one-on-one training, and a demand for academic excellence, also with one-on-one training; a minimum 3.0 GPA must be maintained.

Not only have almost all of the graduates of the program gone on to college, but to GOOD colleges, and most have received scholarships. They are heading for successful lives, made possible by First Serve … which, notice, is a directive.

Opera Opening Night dinner

On Opening Night, the glowing sun sweeps across the enormous windows of Steiren Hall, glittering off the aspen trees outside and creating the glowing ambiance for The Dinner Party sponsored by The Santa Fe Opera Business Council.

This group represents the nuts and bolts of our community, supporting the Opera from grass roots to boardrooms and everything in between, so you know it’s an interesting and amusing mix of folks, all loving the Opera, coming out for dinner together on Opening Night!

Some 250 members clinked champagne glasses at the black-tie celebration prior to stepping out to the theater for the new and improved “Carmen.”

Fifty percent more new members joined the Business Council this year than before (it’s the perks baby! Like close parking and dinners at the Dapples Pavillion before the performance, with Desiree Mays explaining the plot!) and if you have a business, it can join, too.

Pancakes on the Plaza

Independence Day in Santa Fe is like a scene from “The Music Man”… a glorious, lazy, blue-sky morning on the Plaza in River City, citizens of all ages sprawling in the shade on the grass, balancing syrupy plates on their laps and covering every inch of grass, band in the bandstand announcing the music of Robert Zimmerman! How patriotic can you get?!

You see people waving flags (and wearing flags) and carrying balloons very jolly, and lots of characters – characters in costume, crazy make-up, silly sunglasses, silly hats. Americana lives!

Then there are characters in their real clothes! The scene makes for fulfilling people-watching. (Dogs were nicely asked to take their owners away.) You run into friends and acquaintances, and people you haven’t seen in a while … little reconnections. I also survey the crowd and wonder, “Who ARE all these people? I don’t know ANYONE!” And there were 20,000 people there!

Truly a down-home, laid-back, mom-and-apple pie, community-driven event.

This year, Los Alamos National Bank sponsored the pancake breakfast for the Rotary Club to support such programs as St. Elizabeth’s Shelter, the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Habitat for Humanity and 23 others. We go every year … it is part of being a Santa Fean.

Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email

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