By Kevin Redding
The North Shore Beach Clubhouse became a young girl’s paradise.
On July 23, the historic Rocky Point clubhouse hosted the 6th annual Dollie & Me Tea Party, where girls were encouraged to bring their favorite dolls for a day of dress up, filled with snacks, raffles, prizes and more.
Presented by the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association, and organized by longtime club member Maureen O’Keefe, the two-hour fundraising event brought moms and daughters, and aunts and nieces, together to help girls form new friendships, and even provided medical tables for treating and taking care of the dolls as part of its “dollie hospital” theme.
In the large, spacious room of the clubhouse, the girls rotated between different stations like the “medical” area, a hair and makeover spot for dressing up their dolls, and another to get their own nails polished by adult volunteers. Rows of dining tables served tea and bagels. At the end of the event, O’Keefe raffled off prizes, which ranged from her homemade doll accessories to store-bought craft kits.
She decided to get the event going when her grandnieces were young, and obsessed with American Girl dolls. With a knack for sewing, O’Keefe saw an opportunity to give girls something to look forward to every year.
“They learn how to care for their dolls and for one another.”
Even though the $10 admission for each adult and child will go toward the organization — which holds several fundraising events every year — and clubhouse maintenance, she says that the children’s events are more about goodwill. By bringing all the parents and children together, there’s a strong feeling of community cohesiveness.
“Everyone has a ball,” she said. “The girls just love getting their nails done, their hair done; getting the attention. You know, girls will be girls. And you’d never know that a lot of them didn’t know each other before today. In an event like this, we probably average 500 dollars. All the food is donated, and the [money from the] doll clothes we sell will be given to VFW.”
Rory Rubino, an auxiliary officer for the association, thinks the event will be a “wonderful childhood memory” for the girls — one they’ll always remember.
“They learn how to care for their dolls and for one another,” Rubino said. “They learn how to get along and make friends. It’s a lot of work, but we do it for the children. These are the events that really glue everybody together.”
O’Keefe plans to continue the event for as long as possible, but recognizes that she herself won’t be able to run it forever. Once she and the association ages out, O’Keefe said that she’d love for some of the younger parents and families to take it over.
Colleen Tornabe, whose 5-year-old niece was one of the doll-carrying girls in attendance, was in awe of the event overall.
“This is the first time I’ve come here, and it’s wonderful,” she said, excitedly. “It’s a great idea for young girls to just get together and have fun, enjoy each other’s company, and meet some new friends. I think it’s great.”