Well – we’re in the home stretch now! I’m absolutely THRILLED to see that the weather system that was predicted to bring what looked like a lot of rain our way on Thursday and Friday has fizzled out and shifted way south of us!!! As it looks now, we may have some scattered showers while they are trying to set up the tents on Thursday, but Friday is going to be PERFECT – a little cloudy, but no rain is likely!!! WOO HOO!!! A big thank you to everyone who sent some “no rain mojo” our way — it worked!!!
The focus of this teaser is some of the special touches that add to the ambiance of the evening…
One feature we get rave reviews on every year is the chauffeur service from the parking area. Having an event like this at a private residence tends to create parking constraints — a couple hundred cars don’t work well in most driveways! So, we find an appropriate place to park near by and chauffeur the guests to the home! So far, all three homes have had a long circle drive that provides a lovely view of the home as the guests are driven up to the scenic front entrance to the home. When guests arrive at the front entrance, they feel like a celebrity being let out at the end of a red carpet in their elegant Gala attire! Cars make regular circles from the parking area to the home so that there is always a car available to pick up guests whether coming or going! Wilkinson provides the cars and a team headed by CIS Board Member, Ty Stumpf, serve as the professional chauffeurs.
The home and grounds itself is always the primary source of beauty, but we also add some festive flairs — twinkle lights on bushes, spot lights shining across ponds and up into trees (provided by JS Howard Electrical), tents, and elegant linens on tables. We also have chandeliers in the tents to provide lighting and give the essence of being in an elegant ballroom. CES Lighting and Design donates the use of the chandeliers! The linens are a different color scheme every year. This year, we chose black and silver. Here are a couple shots of the linens at last year’s event in the back yard of Fred Von Canon’s home – this year’s tables/linens will look the same, except for the color:
Another classy touch is the use of Sorority Girls to perform volunteer duties – everything from assisting guests, answering questions, clearing tables, and whatever else needs to be done. The girls get community service / volunteer credit for their Sororities and we get several extra hands to help out! They all come dressed in classic little black dresses. We’re working on doing it again this year, but haven’t finalized the details – I hope it works out – we get a lot of positive comments about them!
One of my very favorite pictures from last year was taken by Dana Atkins of DWA Photography – it appeared in the Sanford Herald in their coverage of the event – it is of Charles Hayes all dapper in his tuxedo and several Sorority Girls all gathered around him! I thought it summed up the “look” of the Gala in one perfect photograph! Here is it:
So – there you have it! I think that is all the teaser details I have… Thursday we start the set up activities – the tents and tables/chairs are delivered and erected, we plan the final layout for how the restaurants, bars, cocktail tables, and silent auction tables will be positioned (we have a rough plan, but won’t know for sure until the tents are set up and we know if we need to account for rain), and last minute details are worked out! Then, Friday we spend the day putting on all the finishing touches – put out the linens, set up the bars, put all the signage up, set up the Silent Auction, Sammy Poe comes in with the floral accents, and on and on… Then, the event will go off without a hitch and it will be all over for another year!