A Wednesday afternoon tea was an event that came straight from the heart.


The Aiken Women's Heart Board held its annual tea, which was free, to thank the community for its support over the years. The Board was also promoting its upcoming benefit event, in which the proceeds will go to South Carolina chapter of the American Heart Association.


The tea was held at the Walnutcroft, the South Boundary home of Rob and Pam Johnston. Long Island native Mary Croft bought the land on which the house was constructed for $1,200 in 1920. The home was constructed and later owned by former Estee Lauder Vice President Ida Crawford Stewart who was known locally as the “Cosmetics Lady.” Now a soft, snowy white, the house was once a bright pink.


Pam Johnston was delighted when Heart Board Tea Chair Anne Perry asked if she would be interested in hosting the event at her home.


“We love Aiken, and to whom much is given, much is expected,” Pam Johnston said. “(The Heart Board) have it down to a fine science. It was so well-orchestrated and everything has been just perfect.”


The Johnstons' home was filled with ladies in red, which is the color of heart disease awareness, and attendees enjoyed good company while sipping tea and eating a variety of finger foods.


Perry thanked the women of the organization for their hard work to make the tea such a success, including Cleada Thomas who was the co-chair of the event, and the Johnstons for opening up their home.


“The turnout has been wonderful and we're so appreciative of the Johnstons for letting us use their beautiful home,” Perry said.


The tea comes before the organization's biggest event, the annual Heart Benefit. Last year, $104,200 was raised and donated to the American Heart Association. This will be the Board's 44th production and is titled “Remember Then,” directed by the show's writer, Jim Moore. The show will include more than 24 local singers and actors, and The Heart Throbs, a local American Heart Association benefit band, will also perform.


This show is dedicated to the late Eleanor Bookstaver who passed away last May. Bookstaver adored music from the '50s and '60s, which is featured in “Remember Then,” Perry said, and she feels it would have been a show that the board's dear friend would have enjoyed immensely.


“She's going to be looking down and watching,” Perry said with a smile.


The Heart Board's benefit show will run from Feb. 20 to 24 at the USC Aiken Etherredge Center. The matinee performances will be on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 3 p.m., while the evening performances will be on Feb. 20, 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.


Admission to a matinee performance is $20 and an evening performance is $25.


Tickets can also be reserved by calling Karen Wyont at 649-7650 for the Feb. 20 performance, Ginger Talbert at 648-7037 for Feb. 21, Frankie Lambright at 648-8720 for Feb. 22, Norma Campbell at 648-2042 for Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., Christy Kisner at 648-6197 for Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Shirley Shaw at 648-0033 for Feb. 24.


Tickets are available for each show but are going fast. Linda Calhoun, the Board's Publicity Chair, said the Feb. 20 performance currently has the most and best seats left.