Eight-year-old Isabelle Acevedo of Schenectady chose her outfit carefully for Sunday’s Downton Abbey Tea Party at the Schenectady YWCA.
“I wanted something fancy,” she explained.
And she was indeed fancy in her pink dress, white ruffly hat, pink tights and matching cowboy boots. She sipped tea from a china cup and took a careful bite of a sugar cookie shaped like a teapot.
Isabelle looked perfectly at home in the YWCA’s elegant Kathan Room, which was full of twinkling Christmas trees and ladies in dressy Victorian garb.
There were tea stations scattered throughout the space and carols drifted softly from a piano in the corner.
The Downton Abbey Tea Party was modeled after the British period drama television series set in the Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey. It was held in conjunction with the YWCA’s annual Festival of Trees, which showcases 35 trees decorated by community agencies and organizations.
“We thought it would be a great way to just have a social gathering. This is meant to be a friend-maker,” said YWCA Board President Dot Valachovic, who was dropping sugar cubes into an attendee’s teacup.
Y resident Leila Constable, dressed in a plum-colored Victorian gown, was also helping out at the event.
“The Y does so much for us that I like to give back,” she said.
A silver tea set on display on the piano was used at the Y back in the 1930s, when residents had tea in the Kathan Room with their suitors, noted Jo-Anne Rafalik, development and communications director for the Y. The old-fashioned tea parties stopped around 1940, she estimated, but on Sunday, the tea set was back in a place of honor.
Sunday’s tea party was attended by people of all ages, but most were women. Tim and Charlie Jordan of Rotterdam were there representing the male half of the species, though. When asked if they were having fun, Charlie, 12, responded, “Eh,” while his brother, who’s 11, gave a reluctant, “Yes.”
Both conceded that the decorated trees were nice and wholeheartedly agreed that the cookies were good, especially the chocolate chunk ones.
The YWCA’s Festival of Trees will run through Dec. 15. It is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for children under 5.