Is “Hill Prom” growing up? The Taste of the South gala, a charity fundraiser that’s become an annual rite of passage for Hill staffers, may be maturing, thanks in part to its new home at the Washington Hilton.
“We’re seeing a much bigger diversity of age — we had been mostly early to mid-20s, now mostly 22 to 45,” Chelsee Woodey, board chairman, said of the Saturday night bash. “Now even my own parents are here, and I’m not going to say how old they are.”
Though the slightly more distinguished crowd was apparent in the VIP area, the rest of the ballroom was a typical sea of young staffers and lobbyists lucky enough to snag a ticket from their offices or buy a pair before they sold out in a record-setting three hours. Seven hundred hopefuls joined the waiting list for tickets before it was closed, Woodey said.
A total of 2,100 partied with their new closest friends until 1 a.m. This year’s theme — “A Show Unlike Any Other” — emphasized the delightful chaos with circus motifs and a big top feel.
States had their own themes, with barbecue and SEC swag dominant.
South Carolina, the featured state for 2015 and the home of the nonprofit Camp Happy Days, which received most of the $500,000 raised at the party, had the best freebie setup: Pickled okra! Pepper jelly! Corn butter!
What Louisiana lacked in swag it made up for in king cake. Tennessee played a trump card with giant baskets of M&Ms produced in the Volunteer State.
And in the grand tradition of TOTS, at least one wobbling young woman had her shoes off by 10 p.m. and the dance floor was a bit sloppy by 11 p.m. Seems even 30-something Southerners like their bourbon and live music