- Alexandra Clough Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
It’s T-minus 16 days until the Mar-a-Lago soiree celebrating President Donald Trump’s first year in office, and party organizer Toni Holt Kramer already is prepping.
At the hairdresser.
Her colorist is doing her usual work, and Holt Kramer, founder of a Trump fan club called The Trumpettes, is doing her usual multitasking, talking on the telephone and finalizing plans for the Red, White and Blue Celebration in two Mar-a-Lago ballrooms. The event is set for Jan. 18, two days before the anniversary of Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.
“Things couldn’t be any better,” Holt Kramer said, “except I recently asked the president, ‘Is there any chance you could build me another ballroom in the next two weeks?’ He laughed, but I said, ‘I promise I’ll fill it up!’ “
She’s not kidding. Holt Kramer, a part-time Palm Beach resident, came up with the idea of a party for the president last summer while she was at her other home, in Bel-Air. The Mar-a-Lago club member was dismayed when nearly two dozen private charities canceled events booked for Mar-a-Lago following Trump’s controversial comments on the neo-Nazi and White Supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va.
Far from being divisive, Holt Kramer said Trump has brought together “we the people….he didn’t need to do this,” she said, referring to his run for the presidency. “He did it as a labor of love and devotion to this country.”
On Oct. 27, The Palm Beach Post first reported Toni Holt Kramer’s planned Jan. 18 inaugural celebration, with its relatively affordable ticket price of $300. Eleven days later, the event sold out, surprising Holt Kramer and her squad of ardent Trump supporters.
With the grand ballroom’s 700 seats filled, Holt Kramer then rented out Mar-a-Lago’s smaller, gold-and-white ballroom to seat another 100 guests. That ballroom, too, quickly filled, leaving a waiting list of about 689 people. This amount could indeed fill another ballroom.
With no more Mar-a-Lago ballrooms to be had, however, Holt Kramer will have to settle for hosting only 800 of the president’s fans, many of whom are flying in from across the country and even the world.
The big question is: Will Trump show up?
Holt Kramer said she didn’t think it appropriate to ask Trump when she saw him right before New Year’s Eve at Mar-a-Lago.
But Holt Kramer said the president knows all about the party being held in his honor. ” ‘Everybody is talking about January 18,’ ” Holt Kramer said Trump told her.
There will be at least one Trump there, and that’s Eric Trump, the president’s son, Holt Kramer said. He’ll deliver welcome remarks at the party, which Holt Kramer now is calling a show.
The show, she said, not only will feature Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro, lately on the warpath against the FBI “crime family” and former director James Comey.
The party also will feature luminaries from the political, business and showbiz world.
“The lineup! It’s like a Broadway show,” said Holt Kramer, ticking off some names.
“Niger Innis,” she said, referencing the activist and politician. “He’s bringing Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr…..Robert Davi. He’s playing at the Colony Hotel (on Palm Beach) the 11th, 12th and 13th. He’s also a rabid conservative, which in Hollywood is not an easy thing to do. And he’s such a great talent.”
” Roberta Linn,” continued Holt Kramer, referring to Lawrence Welk’s First Television Champagne Lady, who went on to have a successful singing career in Las Vegas and Palm Springs, where she still performs. “She’s going to do two or three songs for us.”
“I’m very pleased to be asked to be there,” said Linn, who said she has sung at the conventions for former presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. “I’ve done a lot of stuff with the presidents and now this is the topper. I’m thrilled about going.”
Also singing on Jan. 18: “The Frank Sinatra of the desert, Frank DeSalvo,” Holt Kramer said. He flying in after his show (in Palm Desert) with his new wife. He’ll do our show and then get back on a red eye.”
Corporate titans and industrialists will be there, too, Holt Kramer said. Publishing executive Jimmy Finklestein. Charlie Premone, convention center mogul. Anthony Vecchione, owner of La Petite Robe, a clothing line.
The mix of guests is right up Holt Kramer’s alley, a reflection of the life of this former model and Hollywood reporter who now mingles in the worlds of politics, business and entertainment.
Her current iteration began in 2015, when Holt Kramer created The Trumpettes with three other Palm Beach socialites. Their goal was a little booster group to support candidate Trump, whom they knew from his Mar-a-Lago private club.
With the momentum created by Trump’s presidency, and their very public party for him on Jan. 18, Holt Kramer plans to use the platform to drive her female Trumpettes (and male Trumpsters) into a re-election campaign, Trump 2020.
“We’ve got a whole plan,” Holt Kramer said. “It’s all about promoting The Trumpettes for the next election. My goal is to form a really concentrated group in as many cities in America as possible so that by 2019 we will have many different Trumpette groups to recruit and reach other cities.”
Not even Trump’s recent and, to some people, frightening tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has swayed Holt Kramer from her devotion to Trump. “Absolutely not,” Holt Kramer said. “(Trump) is too intelligent….He’s so sensible and so dedicated to the betterment of this country.”
Despite the party’s approaching date, Holt Kramer seems calm. All those years of television production are coming in handy as she produces this party-turned-show, down to the minute.
The fun starts out by the pool, where we will have “an enormous spread” of hors d’oeuvres and a Dixieland band kicking off the Americana theme of the evening. “You’ll be able to smell the barbecue in the air,” Holt Kramer said.
Then it’s on to the ballrooms for the guests, who are urged to wear festive red, white or blue attire, but no ballgowns or tuxes. This is, after all, a party for the people, and not only the Rich People.
In addition to millionaires and billionaires, ordinary Americans will be attending, too.
Holt Kramer knows this because when word got out last October about the event, she said she received requests to hold tickets from people “until the alimony check came in, or the next whatever check came in. I said yes to every person who asked that because we want you there. You’re important if that’s how much (Trump) means to you.”
There won’t be any cheap seats at the show, either. Holt Kramer has rented numerous television screens and will position them throughout the ballrooms. “Even the alcoves of the ballrooms will have TV screens, so no matter where you’re sitting, you will have a front row center seat,” Holt Kramer said.
But talent costs money, and so do tablecloths and TV screens.
Holt Kramer said she didn’t realize exactly how much everything cost at first. Philanthropists Ari Rifkin and Tova Leidesdorf agreed to pay Judge Pirro’s appearance fee, but Holt Kramer soon found herself trying to figure out how to put on an A-list event on the dime of a $300-per-person ticket.
Wise advice from a party planner led her to ask people of means for donations. Holt Kramer said the response was very positive.
And she’s thinking ahead, to next year.
Yes, it seems annual Trumpette parties at Mar-a-Lago are part of the plan now, too. Holt Kramer already is lining up donors for the 2019 shindig. “I will say it’s going to be an annual event at Mar-a-Lago for the next three years for sure, and hopefully for the next seven,” she said.