First Fete En Blanc Benefit Planned

OCEAN CITY – A French-inspired pop-up picnic party will allow members of the community to celebrate the summer season and raise money for two nonprofits.

On Sunday, June 2, Real Hospitality Group will hold its first Annual Fete en Blanc benefitting Diakonia and ECPAT-USA, a national organization dedicated to ending the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy and legislation.

In keeping with the theme of Fete en Blanc – a French description meaning Party in White – guests wear white attire, set up a white table setting and celebrate the summer season while raising money for the two organizations. But unlike traditional fundraisers, Fete en Blanc organizers will notify guests of the surprise location 24 hours prior to the event.

“It’s a large pop-up picnic and the venue is kept secret until 24 hours prior to the event,” creator Mary Rudd, talent acquisition and development coordinator with Real Hospitality Group, said. “Everything, from the attendees’ outfits to their setups, must be in white.”

Embracing the spontaneity of a pop-up party, guests will bring their own picnic elements, including tables, chairs, tableware, glasses, decorations, food and non-alcoholic drinks.

The event will feature prizes for the best setup, drone footage, a caricature artist, a henna tattoo artist, a DJ, a silent auction and a live performance by MP Steel Band. Alcohol and food can also be purchased on site.

Rudd said the idea of Fete en Blanc is to raise as much money as possible for Diakonia and ECPAT-USA.

“I think Fete en Blanc is a nice way to give back 100% of what we earn because people bring their own food, or buy it from the food truck,” she said. “One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to charity, which is very important to us.”

Each year, Real Hospitality Group – a hotel management company headquartered in Ocean City – uses its platform to support local, national and global initiatives.

Alma Seidel, vice president of human resources, said charity and corporate responsibility are a large part of Real Hospitality’s mission. Each year, for example, the company supports hotel community initiatives through its Real Cares program and contributes tens of thousands of fundraising dollars to national charities such as ECPAT-USA.

“It’s something we’ve supported since the beginning …,” she said. “We were actually the first company in the country to sign The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, which means we provide training and tools to understand the problem and recognize the signs.”

Seidel added this year’s Fete en Blanc will also benefit Diakonia, an organization dedicated to building a foundation for those in crisis or who are homeless while maintaining their dignity and respect, providing hope and assistance and helping them change the direction of their lives, one step at a time.

“We chose them because of what they do to support people in our local community,” she said.

Rudd noted the Annual Fete en Blanc will allow guests to learn about and support nonprofits that help the community.

“Fete en Blanc is an event that anyone can attend,” she said. “We wanted it to be a way to bring people together for a common cause and to educate people about ECPAT-USA and Diakonia.”

Seidel also noted opportunities to expand the fundraiser in the future.

“I don’t think we’ve done anything like this before, and it’s something different and exciting,” she said. “We want to start small, but our expectation is to grow this event year after year.”

The first Annual Fete en Blanc will take place on Sunday, June 2, from 5-8 p.m. All proceeds from the fundraiser will be divided equally between ECPAT-USA and Diakonia.

Tickets are limited and will be on sale for $25 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 12.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.