A buzz of excitement continues to build around Asbury Court Retirement Community in Des Plaines, with local, national and even international news outlets clamoring for interviews.
"We've filmed commercials and videos here before, but we've never had this kind of attention," says Ellen Mostardini, marketing director. "Everyone's still talking about it, including the residents."
One week ago, a jilted bride, Teanne Harris of Bensenville, walked in with her mother, Bari Harris, of Long Beach, Calif., offering to donate all of the elements from her Halloween wedding, planned for that same night at Manzo's Ristorante & Banquets, across the street.
Just like that, the Halloween party planned for the 340 residents at Asbury Court turned into a lavish banquet, with a sumptuous meal, elegant flowers, sparkling masks right out of a masquerade ball, and a disc jockey who kept the mood lively.
"We knew we weren't going to be getting our money back," says Harris, during a phone interview from Hawaii, where she followed through with her honeymoon trip. "So after doing damage control and not wanting anything to go to waste, we looked for somebody who would benefit from it, and we saw the retirement center."
Asbury officials still marvel over the turn of events, and of the selfless act by Harris. On Friday, they mounted a marquis sign thank you to Harris to show their appreciation.
"It was out of the blue; she knows no one here," says Eric Haugan, resident services director. "And yet when she came to the party herself, she had all these grandmas wanting to give her a hug. She just broke down."
Harris concedes that the moment hit her, as she looked around and saw all the masks she had bought, and the flowers she had selected for a far different occasion. But then she snapped out of it and enjoyed the party.
"It made me feel good," Harris says. "We didn't want anything to go to waste."
Harris commended all of the vendors, who had to change their delivery and setup so quickly, including the banquet officials from Manzo's who had said it was too late to refund her money.
"After the breakup, it was so late when she came to us that there was no chance of any return," said Ziggy Krynski, manager. "At the same time, when we learned what she wanted to do, we felt she had paid so much money that we prepared the meal and packaged it to be transported."
The story first aired on CBS 2 Chicago, before running in New York tabloids and in online news sources. Recent inquiries have come from a women's club in England, the National Enquirer in England, as well as WGN, Inside Edition and scores of e-mails, Asbury officials said.
Harris herself has received more than 140 Facebook messages as well as countless e-mail and phone messages, which she figures she will deal with once she returns from her trip.
In the meantime, she's soaking up her version of paradise, and declines to dwell on the breakup, or criticize her former fiancee.
"As broken hearted as I am, I don't hate him," Harris says. "We're still good friends."
All of which continues to surprise Asbury Court officials, who are still counting their blessings.
"I don't know, if it were me, I would have gone ahead with the reception and partied with all of my friends there," Mostardini says. "What she did was so incredibly generous. She made a very sad situation into an extraordinary night for this community."