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Party of the Century

Nearly a century has passed since the first golden age of the Thousand Islands ended. A "funeral" party in 1913 at the Thousand Islands Yacht Club marked the end of the heady heydays of the resort.

After nine consecutive seasons, the Gold Cup of the American Power Boat Association would leave the river, never to return, just as the grand hotels at Frontenac and Thousand Island Park would never be rebuilt.

A Renaissance of the Thousand Islands was presaged by a grand social event on the river, probably the most memorable since the first golden age of the resort. The occasion was Jim Cumming's sixtieth birthday, but more than a celebration of that event, the party was intended to bring to the river celebrants from afar, many of whom had never discovered the charms of the Thousand Islands.

The emblem of the event (above) emblazoned a handsome invitation booklet. A beautiful website also introduced the region to prospective party-goers. The presentation featured Thousand Islands photographs of Ian Coristine. Jim credits much of his success to building superior teams.



More than 200 guests gathered in late afternoon at the Antique Boat Museum, Clayton to meet the host, Jim Cumming (above). After dinner in the new structure built to house the great Boldt houseboat, La Duchesse, smaller boats carried guests to Heart Island, Alexandria Bay.

Arrival at illuminated Boldt Castle was a dramatic high point. A tune from a kilted piper on the ramparts greeted visitors as they docked in the darkened Swan Pond. Music from an orchestra in the ball room was heard to the top of the castle, where some guests looked out across the moonlit water, while more of the two hundred roamed through the five levels of the colossal structure.

Under the glorious stained glass dome, buffets on the marble floor of the rotunda bore desserts. Above, galleries ringing the lofty space afforded views of the party below.

The Boldt Castle dining room was undergoing restoration, but the adjoining covered terrace was a focus of activity. For those of us who had become accustomed during our lifetimes to seeing the huge outdoor area empty, the sight of it filled with a happy throng was a revelation (below).

Paul Malo, author of the book, Boldt Castle, commented that it appeared as he had envisioned it, when describing how it would have been used. For an evening Boldt Castle came alive, after more than a century since builder George Boldt had abandoned his grand monument.

Music in the ballroom invited dancing, but most guests circulated throughout the several floors and grounds, conversing with others. Fireworks reflected in the dark water provided a grand finale to a memorable evening.

Neighbors graciously welcomed Jim Cumming's guests from abroad to stay at their islands. The visitors enjoyed a farewell lunch on the patio of Tin Pan Galley, Sackets Harbor, en route to their home destinations. Unfortunately, one guest who had flown from Belgium was denied entry at the border, due to an improper visa.

The host suggested costume to recall the first Golden Age of the Thousand Islands--especially hats--an option that was welcomed by some guests. Boldt Castle is a landmark of the Edwardian era, recalled by lavish "My-Fair-Lady" chapeux (below).

Several photographers documented the evening's events. We welcome more images and identification of guests pictured, which may appear in a future issue. These photographs were taken by Paul Malo, except for those where he and his wife appear.

Photo left: John Summers photograph, Paul Malo and Judy Wellman (Mrs. Malo) at La Duchesse.

Posted in: Sports
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