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Unusual Banquet


Boston Globe's account in June 1990 of a most unusual wedding banquet. Accompanied by her fiance, a woman went to the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston and ordered the meal. The two of them poured over the menu, made selections of china and silver, and pointed to pictures of the flower arrangements they liked. They both had expensive taste, and the bill came to $13,000. After leaving a check for half that amount as down payment, the couple went home to flip through books of wedding announcements.


The day the announcements were supposed to hit the mailbox, the groom got cold feet. "I'm just not sure," he said. "It's a big commitment. Let's think about this a little longer." When his angry fiance returned to the Hyatt to cancel the the banquet, the manager could not have been more understanding. "The same thing happened to me, honey," she said and told the story of her own broken engagement.


But about the refund, she had bad news. "The contract is binding. You're only entitled to $1,300 back. You have two options: to forfeit the rest of the down payment (loss of $5,200) or go ahead with the banquet. I'm sorry. Really, I am."


It seemed crazy but the more the jilted bride thought about it, the more she liked the idea of going ahead with the party--not a wedding banquet, but a big blowout. 10 years before this same woman had been living in a homeless shelter. She had got back on her feet, found a good job and set aside some money Now she had the wild notion of using her savings to treat the down and outs of Boston to a night on the town.


And so it was that in June of 1990 the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston hosted a party such as it had never seen before. The hostess changed the menu to boneless chicken--"in honor of the groom," she said--and sent invitations to rescue missions and homeless shelters. That warm summer night, people who were used to rummaging through dumpsters dined instead on chicken cordon bleu. Hyatt waiters in tuxedos served appetizers. Bad ladies, vagrants, and drug addicts took one night off from the hard life on the sidewalks outside and instead ate chocolate wedding cake and danced to big band melodies late into the night. This jilted bride spent $26,000 to feed and entertain people who could not pay her back.

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