VNA hosts ‘V for Victoria’ benefit party to bring new trees to historic Savannah neighborhoods

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Victorian Neighborhoods Association (VNA) hosted its “V for Victoria” benefit party Saturday night.

“V for Victoria” was open to all who purchased a ticket and was held at VNA members Dan Rizzo and Silvio Trioni’s home. The party was centered around the year the house was built, 1884. Attendees were asked to come in costume as a character, real or fictional, from the Victorian era. Guests did not disappoint.

Characters in attendance ranged from famous artists, to regular civilians, to Queen Victoria herself.

Von Tauber, dressed as John Singer Sargent, poses with Carmela Spinelli, dressed as Madame X. (Photo: Claire Barrett Photography)

Tatiana von Tauber, a local artist and radio talk show host, dressed as John Singer Sargent. Sargent painted the iconic “Portrait of Madame X”. Von Tauber says she chose this character because “Madame X” was considered to be an erotic painting in 1884, and von Tauber’s own art focuses on the feminine expression of sensuality and eroticism.

David Jarrell, president of the Deep South Orchid Society, went as an orchid hunter, a character that may not come to mind when one thinks of the Victorian Era. He says orchids were actually one of the major fads of the time period.

“Wealthy businessmen, or wealthy individuals, would hire people and send them to the tropics for months or years at a time to collect as many orchids as they could and bring them back,” Jarrell said.

Other guests simply created a Victorian era alter-ego for themselves.

Check out the gallery below to see portraits of guests by Claire Barrett Photography.

Local acting students from SCAD were in costume serving guests hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Students from St. Andrew’s School were also there performing live music.

Rizzo said he and Trioni thought of the idea for “V for Victoria” and never looked back. He says the theme made perfect sense in a city like Savannah. See more in the video below.

Also in attendance was Mikki Sodergren. Sodergren is a professional singer and the artistic director of the American Traditions Vocal Competition that is hosted in Savannah every year.

Watch a clip of Sodergren’s performance at “V for Victoria” below.

Though the party was full of fun, food and photos, organizers say the real point of “V for Victoria” is to encourage the community to help Savannah’s Victorian neighborhoods thrive.

Rizzo says the VNA can often be overlooked when it comes to funding, because the organization represents neighborhoods that are much smaller than other historic neighborhoods in the area.

Ryan Madson is the Victorian Neighborhoods Association president and says the organization focuses on issues that affect neighborhood residents and small business owners. He says the proceeds from the benefit party will be put towards beautification projects that improve quality of life in the neighborhoods.

“The ‘V for Victoria’ fundraiser is the first of what we hope will become an annual tradition,” Madson said. “Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards streetscape improvements, particularly for planting new shade trees. We recognize that our live oak canopy is an essential part of Savannah’s character; we must protect our trees while embarking on the replanting of new ones, paying it forward to future Savannahians.”

News 3 spoke with guests about the importance of preserving historic neighborhoods and actively working to improve them.

Sodergren, who lives in New York City, offered a unique perspective. She says tourist towns can sometimes lose a piece of their identity, so she thinks the VNA is doing great work.

“In a historic city like Savannah, I think it’s so important that the people that live there actually have something for themselves,” Sodergren said.

To von Tauber, “V for Victoria” is an opportunity to attract young people to get involved and learn about the things that shaped the Hostess City into what it is today. See more in the video below.

“I get to learn about characters that lived during this time period that I didn’t know about,” von Tauber said. “It’s fun, it’s elegant, it’s so beautiful. I hope they do this again next year and that it’s a regular event.”

Madson says the VNA is also working to better protect homes that fall outside of the time frame for historic eligibility and is supporting the Forsyth Park Open Container Zone.

The VNA meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the American Legion Post 135 (1108 Bull Street). Meetings are open to the public and start at 6 p.m. following a 5 p.m. social.

For more information on the Victorian Neighborhoods Association, CLICK HERE.

Rizzo says eventually, he and Trioni hope “V for Victoria” grows into a block party style event that can be hosted outside. Guests say they’re already looking forward to attending the event next year.

See the gallery below for more sights from “V for Victoria”. All photos by Claire Barrett Photography.

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