Palo Alto's biennial Black & White Ball fundraising dinner/dance could be a bit less grey this year.
Organizers are encouraging the under-35 set to join longtime attendees of the benefit dinner dance, as in a reduced ticket cost. The ball is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road.
Organizers expect a turnout of up to 1,500 persons this year, up from about a thousand in recent years.
To add a touch of mystery and zest, this year's theme is a "masked ball," meaning that everyone who signs up will be given a black mask to wear to the "black-tie" event, according to Wynn Hauser, one of the volunteer organizers of the event.
Or people can create their own masks, using feathers, sequins or other accoutrements.
While black-and-white garb is encouraged it is not required as part of the overall theme. Typically only about a third of the male attendees wear tuxedos, while most come in dark suits and ties. Women come in gowns or semi-formal dresses, not always black.
"We call it 'creative formal,'" he said. "If people want to wear something other than black and white they won't be checked at the door," with a possible exception for "ordinary jeans."
Even Zorro-style capes will be welcomed this year to go with the mask theme, Hauser said.
The 2008 ball had a plaid theme, and some men showed up wearing kilts, he recalled.
About 40 restaurants are involved in preparing food for the event and there will be live music throughout the Lucie Stern center, Hauser said.
The ball is sponsored by the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation. Proceeds go to youth programs in the community, including Youth Community Service, middle-school athletic programs, the Palo Alto Library Foundation, Partners in Education, and the Palo Alto Family YMCA.
Co-sponsors include Hewlett Packard as a "gold sponsor" and the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online as media sponsor.
Tickets for persons older than 35 are $135 per person, or $100 if purchased in a group of 10 -- which also gives the group a table, Hauser said.
But for persons under 35 tickets are $90 to "encourage attendance by a new generation," he said.
Advance purchase of tickets is encouraged but tickets can be purchased at the door if necessary, he said, reflecting a pattern of people tending to wait until the last minute. The ball's website is www.thepaloaltoblackandwhiteball.org .