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On Tuesday afternoon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Associates Committee of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering held its 23rd annual Bunny Hop to raise money for the cancer center’s pediatrics department. The events space at 583 Park Avenue, the benefit’s new location after years at FAO Schwarz, was an assault on the senses — a playground of clowns, balloon artists, stilt walkers and magicians that also featured a cupcake decorating station and an arts and crafts table for children to beautify Easter Bunny masks with glitter. Crowded photo booths flanked the room while a “human slinky” performed on the dance floor. Loud, thumping electronic music played over the proceedings. Upon entry into the venue, one found (and smelled) the Hop’s pièce de résistance, a petting zoo of goats, rabbits and chickens. The visual overload had normally unflappable Park Avenue moms (and dads, and nannies) a bit frazzled chasing around their easily excitable tots, each in matching ties by Gucci, the sponsor.
Muffie Potter Aston arrived with her two daughters, Bracie and Ashleigh Aston. “My friend and I started this many years ago at FAO Schwarz,” said Aston, who didn’t have any children at the time. “So I had to wait all these years to finally become eligible as a mom at the Hop.” Her eyes darted around the room. “Don’t mind me,” she said. “I’ve got these twins. One’s an animal freak, and I don’t know where the other one went, so I don’t know which way I’m going. Split me in half!”
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The move away from the toy store had some fans.
“I have three kids with me this time, and I couldn’t keep track of one at FAO Schwarz,” said associates committee chairman Shoshanna Gruss, who referred to her toddler twins Colby and Angelica as “little bulldozers.” “There are no aisles here to get lost in. And also, I don’t have to spend any extra money [on toys].”
Thankfully, there were also party favors for the grown-ups.
“I’m like, the worst mother,” quipped Jill Kargman as she sipped a glass of red wine. “I’ve lost all my children. Mother of the year. I’ve abandoned them and went straight to the bar. But the good thing about this location versus FAO Schwarz is that this is all contained. They can’t run out, so I feel pretty secure. So, bottoms up.” She then took another sip.
The sold-out benefit, chaired by Melissa Meister, Marcie Pantzer, Annie Taube and Ferebee Taube, raised more than $300,000.