Syracuse Branch members have long loved garden parties. In the 1980's and 1990's ladies in flowered dresses and gentlemen in straw hats toasted the Queen's birthday with Pimms Cup Specials and played croquet with Syracuse University graduate students from various Dominion countries. Usually, an ambassador or a British Consul member attended, representing the monarch.
A modest charge for the event helped fund various programs sponsored by the branch, including student exchanges with the Ottawa and Kingston branches, the Walter Hines Page and Region II scholarships, and the Shakespeare Competition.
As we moved into the 21st century, the event took the form of a traditional English country fete held on a 15-acre estate overlooking beautiful Cazenovia Lake. Members brought home-cooked dishes to share along with an array of handmade jams and jellies and white elephant items to sell, and all enjoyed a raffle and entertainment in true British style.
At this point, it was determined that the B.U.S.S. Fellowship program would be the sole beneficiary. Enough money was raised each year to send one Central New York teacher to England every other year. The recipients were glowing in their accounts of their experiences, immensely grateful, and tremendously eager to share what they learned with their colleagues and students. Geraldine Richards said, “The whole experience far exceeded my expectations...I learned how important a really good teacher can be” (ESU Annual Report 2005). Eugene Moretti, a 23-year veteran English teacher, and an actor enthused, “I am positively thrilled by...this experience,” as he realized how he could combine Shakespeare as Theater and Shakespeare as Literature in a more meaningful and exciting way.
Every member of the Syracuse Branch has been able to take pride in knowing that with each jar of jam or raffle ticket purchased they were spreading the love of Shakespeare to the participants' colleagues, students, and the student’s families and friends in an ever-widening circle.