"I was inside the lounge of the St. Tudno Hotel. At the table were Alice, the March Hare, the Hatter, the Dormouse and the Queen of Hearts." -- C. M. Rubin
With apologies to Lewis Carroll...
It was Friday, May 4, 2012.
I fell down a rabbit hole in search of a tea party for 1,000 children and a world record jam tart eating attempt.
Down down down I went... until suddenly -- thump!
I was inside the lounge of the St. Tudno Hotel.
There was a table set out under a large bay window. At the table were Alice, the March Hare, the Hatter, the Dormouse and the Queen of Hearts.
"No room! No room!" cried the Dormouse and the March Hare.
"There's plenty of room!" said Miss Alice Llandudno indignantly, and she graciously offered me a large armchair at one end of the table.
"Have some wine," said the March Hare.
"I don't see any wine," I said, "but I would like some tea."
"Tea? But there isn't any tea," said the March Hare.
"It isn't very civil of you to lie," said Miss Alice Llandudno, "especially when we're all drinking tea."
"It isn't very civil of you to invite her to sit down and drink our tea," said the March Hare.
"Your hair wants cutting," said the Hatter.
"What's that got to do with tea?" I asked.
"Where are you from?" asked the Queen, tossing her head impatiently.
"America," I replied. "Manhattan, to be precise."
"I didn't ask to be precise," said the Queen. "Do they drink tea in Manhattan?"
"I think they prefer coffee, so please your majesty," I replied.
"How awful!" said the Queen. "Do they play croquet?"
"I don't think croquet is popular, so please your majesty," I replied.
"No tea, no croquet, they sound like savages," said the queen.
"You should learn not to make personal remarks," said Miss Alice Llandudno.
"Off with her headband!" cried the Queen.
"It isn't very civil of you to lie, especially when we're all drinking tea," said Miss Alice Llandudno.
"Twinkle twinkle little bat,
Tell us where Manhattan's at," sang the Hatter.
"It's on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean," I replied. "In New York."
"Find Manhattan o'er the sea,
But be sure you bring some tea," sang the Hatter.
"Where is the tea party for 1,000 children and when will the record jam tart eating attempt begin?" I asked.
"I'm so glad you've begun asking riddles. I believe I can guess that," said Miss Alice Llandudno.
"Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer?" asked the March Hare.
"Exactly so," said Miss Alice Llandudno.
"The Dormouse has the answer but he is asleep again," said the Hatter as he poured a little hot tea upon his nose.
The Dormouse shook his head and said, without opening his eyes, "Of course, of course; in honor of Alice Liddell's 160th birthday there is a birthday party for Miss Alice Llandudno on the promenade at noon. At least 1,000 children are expected to bring her gifts. They shall attempt to break the world jam tart eating record."
"Off with his nose!" cried the Queen. "What party for Miss Alice? What jam tart record? No parties allowed! No sniff of a single jam tart until I give the order!"
"Well then you shall give the order," said Miss Alice Llandudno.
"Why should I?" asked the Queen.
"Because," said Miss Alice Llandudno, "You are the Queen."
"Come on then!" roared the Queen.
"And what we did was attend the world's greatest tea party." -- C. M. Rubin
And so Alice and I followed the Queen and joined a grand procession led by the town Mayor and other celebrities, wondering what would happen next.
And what we did was attend the world's greatest tea party.
And what we saw were hundreds of children dressed up in Alice in Wonderland costumes.
And what we ate was the most delicious birthday cake I have ever tasted.
And what we experienced was more fun than you can possibly imagine.
And what we achieved was breaking the world record for eating the most jam tarts (1,716) at a single Alice in Wonderland party.
And what we want is more Alice... and more Wonderland plays and more cake and more jam tarts and more tea in Llandudno.
The organizers, Alice In Wonderland Ltd. of Llandudno, Wales, are presently taking a tip from the Dormouse, and then will start planning the next great Wonderland tea party.
A message from the Queen:
"Only Americans who drink tea and play croquet should attend!"
"And what we want is more Alice and more Wonderland plays and more cake and more jam tarts and more tea in Llandudno." -- C. M. Rubin
Photos courtesy of George Good of Inkstinctive Images. For more information please go to Inkstinctive Images
C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, "The Global Search for Education" and "How Will We Read?" She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland.