Bette Midler's Hulaween * By Leah Hansen * October 31, 2007 * Waldorf-Astoria

Bette Midler looked stunning in her “goddess of the forest” costume at her annual Hulaween benefit at the Waldorf-Astoria on Halloween night. The Pamela Dennis-designed green dress, flocked with gold leaves and topped with a bird’s nest hat, was perfectly appropriate for the evening’s benefit for the New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Other celebrities joined the fun as well, with Michael Kors as a very believable Elton John and Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm as a spidery vamp woman. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg got into the act (a little bit) with a set of chunky shell necklaces over his business suit.

Guests arrived in costume, took their seats at tables festooned with hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and gruesome giant rats, and were treated to a night of Halloween-themed food, a costume contest, and performances by Sheryl Crow and the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler.

This year’s Hulaween raised over $2 million in ticket sales for the NYRP, which was founded by Midler in 1995 to create a cleaner, greener New York City. The NYRP plants trees, restores community parks and gardens, and saves public spaces from commercial development in New York City. It recently partnered with the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation to launch MillionTreesNYC, an initiative to plant one million trees on public land throughout the five boroughs over the next ten years.

The gala also featured a live auction for trees to be planted in the winners’ names. A concurrent online auction, ending November 8, offers entertainment packages, luxury items, and personal meetings with Bette Midler, actor Hugh Jackman, or Bill Clinton, among other celebrities.

At the end of the night, guests left with gift bags from Target and the satisfaction of knowing that they did something to better the city. And as a last nod to the greening of New York, a note at the bottom of event’s program implored guests not to take decorations home with them, so that they may be recycled for next year’s gala. Truly, conscientious to the end!


Hunt Slonem and Sandra Li Ron Villane and wife

Photos by Marta Fodor