- Alexandra Clough Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
It’s The Breakers to the rescue for Palm Beach’s troubled society season.
At least three charities that fled President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago this past week have found homes for their big fundraisers at The Breakers Palm Beach resort. The latest to reveal it has moved to The Breakers is the Palm Beach Zoo.
Some 17 charities decided to cancel their galas at Trump’s club during the past week in the wake of Trump’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
A handful of other had made the move earlier this year, after they closed out last winter’s season.
On Tuesday, the Palm Beach Zoo said its Tropical Safari fundraiser gala will be at The Breakers on Palm Beach. The event will be held Feb. 2, the same day it previously had been scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.
The West Palm Beach zoo got lucky: Prime dates during winter season at The Breakers book up fast, often up to a year in advance.
Charity organizers say The Breakers during the season normally is focused on corporate events because it can also sell hotel rooms for hundreds of dollars a night. Daytime events aren’t sought-after by The Breakers, either, because of parking limitations, sources said.
There are only two Palm Beach venues that can hold 500 or more guests comfortably: Mar-a-Lago and The Breakers.
Numerous charities decided to stick with Mar-a-Lago after last winter’s charity season, even after Trump’s campaign comments and travel ban caused controversy among charity donors.
Some charity organizers say they prefer Mar-a-Lago because of the mansion’s unique, castle-like ambiance. They also like the ability to stage in different locations. Events often start with cocktails by the pool, spill into the intimate White and Gold Ballroom and then move for dinner into the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom, which Trump built in 2005.
But charities bolted from Mar-a-Lago after Trump said Aug. 15 that there were some “very fine people” marching among the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month. The president’s comments were widely denounced, but Trump has adamantly rejected the criticism.
The first to break was the Cleveland Clinic on Aug. 17.
The medical center steadfastly had refused to move its event, even after receiving criticism from physicians protesting its Feb. 25 gala at Trump’s part-time Palm Beach home and club, and even after one of its doctors became ensnared in Trump’s immigration ban just prior to the event.
Earlier this month, Cleveland Clinic vowed to remain at Trump’s club for a Feb. 28, gala.
But after Trump’s remarks on Aug. 15, Cleveland Clinic said it was at leaving Mar-a-Lago. Within days, the center secured a new location, The Breakers, for Friday, Feb. 23.
Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit in the fight against breast cancer, was slated to host its Pink Party event at Mar-a-Lago. But it canceled on Aug. 18, the day after Cleveland Clinic scrubbed its event at the Palm Beach manse.
Susan G. Komen soon found a new home its gala: The Breakers, for Saturday, Jan. 20.
Four other charities that had held their events at Mar-a-Lago last winter season had quietly switched to The Breakers in recent months.
They include the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is holding its gala on Saturday, Jan. 27; the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute, which will hold its “Evening of Vision” gala at The Breakers on Friday, March 2; and Morselife Health System, which moved its dinner dance to The Breakers, now set for Dec. 8; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, set for Saturday, Feb. 10.
The American Humane Society switched early, too, moving to The Breakers for its luncheon, set for Monday, March 19.
In total, 22 organizations have decided to move their events from Mar-a-Lago this upcoming winter season.
But the American Red Cross has canceled its ball this season.
Other charities that left Mar-a-Lago still are securing new venues.
They include The American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief program. On Aug. 17, Magen David Adom canceled its gala, set for Sunday, Feb. 25 at Mar-a-Lago.