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In WAC's glittering WONDERland, Sheffer regally presides over mad art party

The "Queen of heARTs" presided over the Westport Arts Center's annual fundraiser WONDERland: A Mad Art Party on Saturday night at the Gallaher Mansion in Norwalk's Cranbury Park.

Ann Sheffer, who dubbed herself the Queen of Arts, reigned supreme throughout the event, which attracted about 400 people and was billed as "a feast for the imagination."

Not at all foul-tempered as the monarch in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," Sheffer graciously accepted praise from arts center officials and a citation from First Selectman Jim Marpe for her unwavering commitment to the arts.

"It was my honor and privilege to present a commendation to Ann Sheffer for her many contributions to the arts in Westport," Marpe said.

"A town without arts is a dead town," said Jill Delaney of Norwalk, clutching an inflatable flamingo, which Alice used in the book to play golf.

Guests were greeted at the event with a table of red and blue "pills" -- gumballs really -- and a tree tapestry that served as the rabbit hole entrance to Wonderland. The whimsical set up included a colorful paper garden with living components by way of the performance artists dressed in green and adorned in peacock feathers.

WAC's Wonderland offered dancing, stilt-walkers, a man dressed as the White Rabbit, and a painting station that invited people to express their creativity.

Westport native and Juilliard-trained soprano Lucia Palmieri performed during the dinner and later summoned people back under the tents with song.

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