To the reassembled bons vivants of the South Fork summer colony, nothing says Memorial Day like the annual Planned Parenthood benefit party. This year, however, an entirely new and younger group might find themselves developing a similar but rebooted tradition. Introducing the Planned Parenthood benefit 2.0, Heat Wave, to be offered on Sunday night.
For the past 24 years, the party has typically been held at a private residence under a tent on a rolling green lawn. This year, the benefit moves to the beach at the Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club. With the move comes a new but authentic surf theme, developed by Michael Halsband, a photographer, moviemaker, and dedicated surfer himself.
He and the benefit committee are being joined by a new junior committee headed up by Tripoli Patterson, an art dealer and professional surfer who trained in Bali and New Zealand but cut his teeth on the beaches here. While both have others to help them, they are being entrusted to bring integrity to the surfing theme.
Mr. Halsband, who has photographed some of the world’s most notable people in a career spanning three decades, said last week that he became involved with Planned Parenthood last year “as an artist contributing a work. It was at a person’s home, very sweet, the usual deal. I liked the cause and at the 11th hour jumped in the car with an art dealer friend to go.” His piece sold and he met a number of people at the party.
Over the winter, Nancy Hessel Weber, who is leading the event with Mr. Halsband and Susan Lenoir, got in touch with him. “They wanted a surf party at the beach, very local, with the surf community and art community out here. They asked me to be an adviser to help bring in those people and I happily jumped on board,” Mr. Halsband said.
Given some of the recent heated political debate centered on the organization in Washington, D.C., he was concerned that people he approached might not be willing to participate. “But I have not run into a single person that didn’t immediately want to be a part of this, and that made me feel even better about the whole thing.”
His only other experience with the Hamptons benefit scene was a screening of his first “Surf Movie” at Guild Hall to help pay the local Surfrider Foundation chapter’s annual costs. He said the Planned Parenthood benefit’s proceeds also stay in the Hudson Peconic Chapter, which has six health centers in Suffolk County, including Amagansett and Riverhead.
While the organization does provide abortions when requested, its records indicate that 95 percent of its services involve preventive care, including cervical and breast cancer screenings, prenatal care, and testing and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases as well as education. It also trains a group of Spanish-speaking women here to educate their peers about reproductive health and Planned Parenthood’s services and resources.
At the same time, Mr. Halsband said, the party will have a local flavor. “We’re not doing the New York City version of the beach.” The decoration will be found driftwood and dyed material. “It will have the feel of the environment in a very organic and indigenous way.”
He said he found in surfing a powerful metaphor for Planned Parenthood. “When getting on a board, the freedom you experience in surfing is the same freedom we experience as Americans. That freedom is being challenged.” The artists he approached related to that idea and liked the charity’s approach to participation — splitting the proceeds from the sales and returning any unsold work after the event. Most organizations are not as generous, Mr. Halsband said.
Although Andy Cohen, a Bravo TV personality and producer, will host the evening, most everything else, including the music provided by D.J. Big Drop and art auction items, will be from the East End. In addition to Mr. Halsband, some of the more than 45 participating artists include April Gornik, Mary Heilmann, Clifford Ross, Bill Komoski, Peter Dayton, Shelter Serra, Ross Bleckner, Lillian Bassman, Eric Fischl, Mike Solomon, Donald Sultan, and Darius Yektai.
Mr. Halsband will show follow-up footage from a new “Surf Movie” he has in the works. The party will also have pop-up boutiques from some 50 designers such as DanniJo jewelry, Mara Hoffman, Charlotte Ronson, Tori Praver, Basta Surf, Bantu, and Gypset.
Tickets cost $250, $75 for those 35 and under if bought in advance through pphp.org. Junior tickets cost $100 at the door. The party begins at 6:30 p.m.