On a cool Saturday in April, over 150 guests assembled in the heart of Stonington Borough for the 11th annual Mystery Dinner at the Stonington Free Library, which had been transformed for the evening into the famous Parisian bookstore Shakespeare & Company circa 1919. Attendees mounted the front steps, decorated like the bookstore’s with the words of Hafiz of Shiraz: “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astounding light of your own being,” and were welcomed by Mystery Dinner Co-Chairs Beth Leamon and Sage Williams. Upon arrival, guests were also presented with the solution to the mystery – the names and locations of their Mystery Dinner homes!
From 6 to 7 o’clock, guests and hosts mingled and chatted, enjoying the ambiance. Drinks were served by garçons in black berets and delicious French-inspired hors d’oeuvres were passed by trés chic dinner committee members, while the faces of famous writers and personalities associated with the original Shakespeare & Company looked down from the walls. Facsimiles of the notorious first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses adorned the shelves along with other volumes from the Library’s collection. Visiting Merrill House Fellow James Longenbach made a cameo appearance as James Joyce himself to add to the fun!
Before the cocktail hour concluded, Beth Leamon thanked the happy crowd for their continued support of our wonderful Library. Beth was followed by SFL’s Assistant Director Micayla Hall, who talked about Overdrive, the Library’s immensely popular digital service which allows cardholders to check out and download e-books and audiobooks at any time and from anywhere. Each guest received a “due date card” upon arrival, which they were encouraged to fill out with pledge amounts and add to the Giving Board as they exited the Library. We are so grateful for the generosity of our guests, who together raised over $6,000 in pledges to
maintain and expand this popular service!
As the sun began to set, guests departed for 19 different Mystery Dinner homes to enjoy delicious French food and drinks. While each dinner was unique, altogether nearly 200 Library supporters came together to share laughter and stories with old and new friends, strengthening the bonds of community while benefiting the Stonington Free Library.
We would like to thank all of those involved in the Mystery Dinner for their continued support, with special thanks to our 40 generous hosts and our fantastic Mystery Dinner Committee! Each year these volunteers work together with Library staff to create a magical evening that annually raises over $20,000 in critically-needed funds for the Library’s annual operating budget.