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Tea party celebrates women, supports good cause

From left, Sherry Jo Matt and Erin McCurdy pose with the collection of tea sets prepared for a tea party at McCurdy's home in Cranberry Township. "We are surrounded by wonderful women, and I want to celebrate that," said McCurdy. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — The Mad Hatter has nothing on Erin McCurdy when it comes to tea parties.

Sure, the Hatter had Alice, the March Hare and the Dormouse as guests, but McCurdy has invited nearly 80 friends to her backyard for tea and crumpets, and a chance to support a good cause.

The tea party will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 7 in the yard and around the pool of McCurdy’s home on Plains Church Road.

Erin McCurdy of Cranberry Township has amassed tea cups, saucers and teapots from thrift stores and family members. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

She’s spent most of this year scouring the internet and thrift stores to amass a collection of tea cups, saucers, teapots, teaspoons and jam spreaders.

“We’ve gotten 74 RSVPs, but with people turning them in late, we feel we’re going to hit over 80,” she said.

The event, taking place the day before Mother’s Day, will be an appreciation of women, said McCurdy.

“The whole point is it’s a celebration of women. I’ve always liked to have strong women around me. This is a day for women to bring their sisters, their daughters, their mothers,” she said.

The event will be a low tea, not a high tea, McCurdy stressed. A high tea involves a meal at a table. McCurdy’s low tea will feature three courses starting with a mimosa, then mini-cucumber or egg salad sandwiches, tomato/mozarella skewers and mini-quiches.

A second course will include crumpets and scones served with clotted cream and jam. A final course will be cookies, mini-cupcakes and nonpareils, a decorative confectionery of sugar and starch.

The dress will be garden party, meaning tea-length dresses, kitten heels and pearls with a matching hat or fascinator. A prize will be given for the headwear voted the best by guests.

She’s hired six servers to prepare the tea and serve the guests sitting at small tables around the backyard. Guests will be able to pose for pictures under a balloon arch to be set up, or work off their scones with a game of croquet.

McCurdy got the idea in February. She’s spent the time since searching for teapots, cups, saucers and the rest of tea settings on internet market sites, hitting area thrift stores and even enlisting her parents in Erie in the hunt.

“We have water glasses, cups, saucers, teapots, spreaders and pitchers. I decided in early February that I would do this,” she said. In addition, she bought tablecloths and tables.

McCurdy said she has 90 settings and 70 teapots.

Purchasing the tableware wasn’t the end of it. McCurdy has scheduled volunteers to wash, fold and decorate unadorned teapots.

Other friends have been drafted to make the sandwiches, scones and crumpets.

One of those friends helping out is Sherry Jo Matt of Wexford. Matt is the founder of the Stop The Judgement Project dedicated to ending the stigma associated with addiction.

Matt said she started the organization after her daughter, Siena, died of a fentanyl overdose on Sept. 14, 2020.

“We’re trying to change the landscape so substance abusers are not judged so harshly,” said Matt. “We want to change how people interact with these people, how people treat these people.

“We want to eliminate the word addiction. It is substance abuse disorder and it’s been classed as a medical issue,” she said.

Matt said Stop The Judgement Project was instrumental in setting up a system in Allegheny County allowing families to track a deceased relative’s toxicology report’s progress.

“You can track an Amazon package. Why shouldn’t you be able to track your child’s toxicology report?” she asked. Matt is working to get the system expanded to every county in Pennsylvania.

McCurdy said there will be a table set up so tea-party-goers will be able to donate to the Stop The Judgement Project.

McCurdy is hoping for sunny weather come May 7, but the tea party will go on regardless.

“This is my way to say thank you to the women in my life,” said McCurdy adding she plans on making the tea party an annual event.

The day before Mother's Day, Erin McCurdy will host a tea party at her home in Cranberry Township for nearly 80 guests. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

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