As New Yorkers struggle to pick up the pieces in the devastating wake of Superstorm Sandy, celebrity resident Bette Midler attempted to return to normalcy on Oct. 31, holding her annual Halloween party in the storm-ravaged city.
Staging her extravagant Hulaween bash at the famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Midler -- this year adopting a French theme -- hosted the party in an effort to raise awareness for her charity, Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project, which strives to improve outdoor green spaces around the city.
"We had no idea that this was gonna happen of course, that we were gonna have the devastation of Sandy. But there's never been a time where our organization is needed more," Midler, 66, dressed in a Coco Chanel-inspired costume, told Us Weekly at Wednesday's event. "We clean up parks and open spaces and gardens in neighborhoods that have no resources. So I'm really glad that we are here."
Though celebrity guests including Debra Messing (dressed as Marie Antoinette) and Michael Kors (dressed as a Frenchman carrying French bread) -- both fellow New Yorkers -- showed up to support Midler, she had to make some changes to the event given the circumstances. "When I said yes to [keeping the date], I didn't realize how stressful it was going to be. It's been unbelievably stressful. But people have come out for it, they've been fantastic. . . We've just been pulling threads here and there, just calling in favors and everything. I'm so grateful to everybody."
Grateful she did not personally lose power during the storm, Midler realizes that cleanup efforts in the local parks her organization supports will be daunting. "Every public park is closed because it's too dangerous to go in," she told Us. "These extreme weather events are happening more and more and there's a pattern to them. The quicker everybody wakes up and smells the flooding, the quicker we will all be able to work together to do something about this. Now it's on our doorstep and we have really got to pull together."
By night's end, Midler was able to raise $1.8 million for her charity, she reported via Twitter.