Très Chic: French Alliance Ball, May 16

The Somerset Hills will be a Francophile's paradise as Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House plan an over-the-top benefit.

Sergei and Olga Bezrodnov, Ballroom Dance of New Jersey owners

The tony evening will commemorate the “French Alliance Ball” that was held at the Pluckemin Artillery Park in 1779. The setting for the historic event, this time around, will be the lush grounds of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, a stone’s throw from Pluckemin.

Robin Ray, President of the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House Board of Trustees, told me, “Just like the original, this is an event that will be remembered for generations to come.”

Bertrand Lortholary, Consul General of France and Honorary Ball Chair, will arrive by horse drawn carriage to Trump National Golf Club, accompanied by Col. Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and military analyst for NBC/MSNBC News. The black-tie event will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, live and silent auctions, dinner and dancing, costumed re-enactors, cannon fire and fireworks.

As local residents and history buffs will tell you, in 1779, General and Mrs. Washington and 350 guests traveled to the Pluckemin Artillery Barracks (now the Hills Development) to dine, dance, enjoy fireworks and cannon fire in celebration of the first anniversary of the alliance between the French government and the American Colonies.

Proceeds from the evening will launch the revitalization of the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum, a national and New Jersey historic site. The landmark was the headquarters for General Henry Knox during the winter of 1778-79 and it is the only known building still standing that was associated with the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, believed to be the first installation in America to train officers in engineering and artillery.

Individual patron tickets are $500, patron tables of 10 are $5,000, and junior patron tickets (25 and under) are $300. For ticket information, visit

Image Captions:

Shall We Dance?

Providing waltz lessons before the French Alliance Ball are Ballroom Dance of New Jersey owners Sergei and Olga Bezrodnov. 

Parlez-vous Francais?  

Bernardsville resident Ann-Marie Robles, of LEARN Associates in Basking Ridge, helps local residents brush up on their French. FROM RIGHT ROUND TABLE: Brenda Budd, Chester; Natalie Gallagher, Harding Township; Janice Marano, Califon; Debbie Budd, Flemington and Cindy Tierney, Warren.

At the Helm

Planning the big event are Honorable Bernard Faro, Consul General Deputy of France; and Robin Ray, President of the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, of Bedminster.

French Alliance Ball Social Committee

FRONT ROW: (L-R) Board of Trustees President Robin Ray, Bedminster; Janice Marano, Califon; Susan Walter, Morris Township; Susan Sparks, Far Hills; Nancy Schechter, Warren; Honorable Joseph H. Metelski, Bedminster; Diane Holtaway, Bedminster; Tom and Carol Tiffany, Pottersville. SECOND ROW: (L-R) Debbie Budd, Flemington; Joanne Little, Basking Ridge; Ellen Vreeland, Bedminster; and Nancy Weeks, Summit. ON STAIRCASE: Judy Poller, Fort Lee; Anita Smith, Gladstone; Chris Herold, Pottersville; Kate Burke Walsh, Far Hills; John Charles Smith, Far Hills; Maria Nadel, Pottersville; Geoff Connor, Pottersville; Rosemary Hilbert, Union Township; and Jane Alcoff, Whippany.

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