When Roger and Julia Russell throw a party, it is grand in scale and location. They mix the history of the Waldheim mansion, their 1896 home at 124 Stone St., with their hundreds of friends and the splendor of the holidays. 

Julia is well-known for her friendliness, her love of life and flamboyance; she loves fashion, evening gowns, shoes and a great party. It’s all put to good use at her annual Christmas party.

According to friend Michael Mettler, the party usually has between 250 and 350 guests. “It’s a formal, black-tie event,” he says. The Russells started the tradition in their home in Gig Harbor, and when they moved here, they continued it. This last party, in 2012, was their ninth annual celebration.

“There’s a pianist in the living room on the main floor,” Michael says. “We usually go through 800 bottles of wine. There’s opera singers and

flamenco dancers.”

The party is handled by a waitstaff of about 15 to 16 people, and Julia has at least one costume change from evening gown to flamenco gown. 

“This year she wore a spectacular Marchesa gown,” Michael says.

Each year’s party has a theme or a focus. This last one focused on angels, with the official colors of burgundy

and silver. 

“The house decorations are really intense. [Julia] spends six weeks decorating. The decor is different from year to year,” Michael says. “I think it’s a pretty spectacular party with people from all over the globe. It’s a pretty fun party.” 

Karlene Ponti can be reached at karleneponti@wwub.com or 509-526-8324.

Karlene Ponti began as Special Publications Writer in 1999, work includes Lifestyles, The Weekly and Business Monthly. After Wa-Hi, Ponti attended Whitman and is a UW graduate. Later she was ordained a Christian minister at CDM Spiritual Teaching Center.

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