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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Pushkin Ball 'Golden Autumn'
In the name of Pushkin for the sake of kids… or aristocratic taste

There is no Russian who does not know the name of Pushkin. Soon there will be no-one in Russia who does not know about the annual charity event Pushkin Ball, “Golden Autumn”.

It has already grown into a tradition. This October 13 it takes place for the 7th time. It will be held at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (in Pushkin, near St. Petersburg). The palace plays a significant part in Alexander Pushkin’s biography, as that is where he studied and where his genius was first recognized. The history says that in Tsarsko-Selsky Lycee his poem “Memories of Tsarskoe Selo”, which he read at the exam, disturbed the usual doze of the great poet Gavriil Derjavin. Derjavin just could not help crying discovering this genius.

The Ball is named “Golden Autum” out of respect for Pushkin’s love for this season (it inspired a lot of poems). It has already gained the reputation one of the most glamorous and grand events of the year. The guest list consists of the cultural and business elite: famous actors, poets, musicians, Olympic champions and politicians.

The goal is not only to impress the public but to raise funds for charity. The Pushkin Fund, who originated the idea, patronizes Hospital #15 (in St. Petersburg) for orphans, Pushkin National Museum and Pushkin Dom. Last year funds also went to the “Children of Beslan,” the organization that supports those kept hostage in the school.

To imagine the scope of the event, it is enough to imagine the ambiance of the Palace, its blinding luxury and incomparable gardens. The program is redolent of the Pushkin era, at the beginning of the 19th century. Last year’s entertainment program included fragments from the operas based on Pushkin’s works. The music was played by the soloists of the Mariinsky Theater, accompanied by the Mariinsky ballet star performers. This year, the guests who are expected include descendants of the Pushkins, Romanovs and other Russian dynasties and they will be taken on an exclusive tour of the rooms of the Palace, including the famous Amber Room. They will be served an exquisite gourmet dinner, created by Grand Hotel Europe’s executive chef Dominique Ferchaud.and have a chance to participate in various lotteries (one of the prizes being a ring with a one carat diamond). The evening just could not go on without dancing (no Ball can!).

The founder of the Pushkin fund is an American, Kenneth Pushkin. In organizing the Ball, he would be lost without the enthusiastic support of the Grand Hotel Europe and it’s GM Thomas Noll, his fellow organizer of the event. Kenneth is the descendant of the Pushkin genealogical tree, but says that “it will put one to sleep if he starts to trace it back.”

No matter how tenuous his lineage, Kenneth, who hails from Santa Fe, Arizona is dedicated to his mission to maintain the Pushkin heritage, popularize the name and help orphanages and hospitals in Russia.

His dedication was not inborn. His family did not speak Russian. But it is, obviously, his fate.

He is an ethnographer specializing in Eskimos (he spent years living with them). One day he happened to be in Chukotka, studying the Eskimos there. A lady, whom he hardly knew, asked him to deliver a parcel on his way through Moscow. This brought him to the doorstep of Admiral Pushkin. On seeing Kenneth the admiral looked at him closely and in a few seconds exclaimed: “You are the real Pushkin!”

That happened in 1992. Their friendship grew almost as a family bond. Kenneth was introduced to other newly found relatives and took regular “pilgrimages” to Pushkin places. When the Admiral died in 1997, he asked him to continue preserving the heritage of their great ancestor. The very same year he founded the Pushkin Fund in the USA. In 2001 it was registered in Russia. Soon afterwards, he came up with the idea of a Pushkin Fesival and its apex, the “Golden Autumn” Ball. It proved to serve the mission well, as only last year they raised more than $50,000 for the charity.

Grand Hotel Europe has put together a five star package for the event, costing $1,810 per person sharing a twin or double historic room for three nights and including a Luxurious Buffet Breakfast in the L’ Europe Restaurant; Round trip airport transfer by BMW 7 limousine; Ticket to the Pushkin Ball in Catherine’s Palace on October 13, 2007, Glass of French Champagne in the Lobby Bar before the Ball; Limousine service to Catherine’s Palace; and a Russian Theme dinner in the hotel’s Caviar Bar and Restaurant.

To reserve, contact reservations department
at Tel.: + 7 812 3296848
fax: +7 812 329 6002

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