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Black tie-clad Manhattan and Brooklyn-ites made the annual pilgrimage to the Bronx Friday night for the New York Botanical Garden Winter Wonderland Ball, this year sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. And the 30-minute, chauffered commute to greet a sea of familiar faces had some waxing nostalgic.

“I feel like we’re going to prom,” said one tuxedo-clad gent as he pulled up to the valet.

This story first appeared in the December 8, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Wait, we’re not?” asked his date in jest.

Not unless your academic send-off included Ralph Lauren and Marchesa gowns and copious quantities of Champagne. Alex Kramer, Anne Grauso, Lara Meiland-Shaw, Lydia Fenet and a slew of designers like Brian Reyes, Lisa Mayock, Yigal Azrouel and Bibhu Mohapatra checked out the venue’s Christmas train display en route to dinner.

“I want to bring my kids here,” said Amanda Brooks as she admired the decor.

After a dinner of beet and pear salad and chicken pot pie, the party-ready crowd let loose to a medley of Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson, before heading to the Standard to continue the dance off until the wee hours.

“I’m ready to get out of this recession death trap,” offered one guest by way of explanation.

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