Little Miss Eco Diva

The Huffington Post
Andrea Chalupa

Hawaii and New York have absolutely nothing in common, except for making Bette Midler the Eco-Diva she is today.

This Friday, October 30th, Ms. Midler is throwing her annual Hulaween Ball, a lavish Halloween wonderland in the Waldorf Astoria, with a little hula-flavor–a nod to her Hawaiian roots. It is the most important event of the year for her non-profit, The New York Restoration Project, an organization determined, among many other things, to plant a million trees in New York. It’s up to 250,000 trees planted, and counting.

The organization, which raises most of its funding from Hulaween, has also created 527 acres of new parkland and opened 91 new playgrounds, to help ensure that every nature-starved New Yorker lives within walking distance to a “green space.” Other greening initiatives include youth education programs, building community gardens and events in low-income neighborhoods.

I spoke with Midler last spring about “rough” New York in the 1970s, when it was dangerous to step foot in Central Park at any hour of the day. Hit by another economic catastrophe, New York depends on NYRP programs to prevent the city from sliding back into dangerville. And plus, the earth, overall, could use a heckuva lot more trees.

“We’ve reached the tipping point, if we don’t do something soon it’ll be irreversible,” she said about the world’s other crisis, global warming.

Her star-packed line-up of supporters agree. This year’s Hulaween includes Whoopi Goldberg, designer Michael Kors as costume judge, comedienne Judy Gold as emcee and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be honored with Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings Award” for his dedication to helping NYRP green New York, including introducing hybrids into New York’s taxi fleet.

As a reporter who crashes and gets invited to a lot of events in New York, I am absolutely in love with the fantasy-land of Hulaween, created by the company of legendary event designer, Robert Isabell, who passed away this summer. Isabell designed weddings for both Caroline and John Kennedy as well as notorious parties at Studio 54 and is considered the “King of Wow.”

Tickets to Hulaween are $640, including pre-dinner cocktails, dinner, and the evenings performance. Last year Gloria Estefon, dressed in goth, lit up the stage, and this year Crosby, Stills, & Nash will round-out the evening.

Other guests include Katie Couric, Martha Stewart, John McEnroe, Pattie Smyth, and awesome musician Sia.

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