COPPERAS COVE — Stephanie Boatwright couldn’t help but blink away a few tears at the start of the 4th annual Mommy/Daddy & Me Sweetheart Tea Party at the Copperas Cove Civic Center Saturday.
“I’m just happy,” she said as she looked at her 6-year-old daughter Shelby across the table from her. Shelby, who is deaf, was happily signing with an interpreter assigned to her by the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant as part of the event.
“That makes it special, very special,” Boatwright said, “because we often feel left out. But with the interpreter able to be here, it really makes us feel like (part) of the community, where at other times we might feel like outsiders.
“It helps a lot.”
Six members of Boatwright’s family spanning four generations attended the event. Shelby’s great aunt Teresa Chavez heard about the tea party and decided it would be a great place to have some family time.
“We don’t often have an opportunity to get together and have fun,” Chavez said. “I love tea and I love eating tea food.” She also loved the idea behind the tea party.
“I heard that they (are) raising money to build a dog park here in Copperas Cove, and I thought ‘that’s awesome.’”
Preteen Miss Five Hills Kaydence Roberts organized this year’s event. Her platform of service for her year-long reign is kindness to animals and the opportunity to organize the tea party and use the proceeds for a dog park fit right in with her efforts.
“(The money) goes to good things,” Roberts said before the event, “and it (the tea party) also gives good things to people by teaching them etiquette and it’s also something fun for a family to do.”
The event was sold out, and only a few of the 150 seats available for the party were empty when members of the Five Hills royalty started serving tea. Each member of the royalty was dressed as a character from “Alice In Wonderland”s” Mad Hatter’s tea party, pouring several types of tea and serving plates of treats to the guests. Children attending the event also got to play games like Tea Bag Toss and Stack the Sugar Cubes, and everyone got the chance to pose for pictures with props related to the theme of the event.
Roberts said $1,654.70 was raised for the proposed dog park through proceeds from the tea party, and Walmart added another $500 in a check presentation once the event was underway.
Chavez and Boatwright both enjoyed the first course of tea and snacks as well as learning the finer points of etiquette, like where to leave a cocktail stick once they finished a chicken nugget or cocktail frank.
Chavez said a younger member of her family also revealed something that could lead to future tea parties.
“I learned my niece is a tea drinker,” Chavez said. “I didn’t know that.”