Black & White Ball to be held Saturday

Fundraising dinner dance takes a masquerade theme

What do Michael Jackson, masked merrymakers, a prized diamond and support for local nonprofits have in common? They're all part of this year's Palo Alto Black & White Ball.

The biennial dinner dance and community fundraiser, spearheaded by the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation, will be held Saturday (Oct. 2) from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road.

Dancing, dining and schmoozing for a good cause are all on the evening's agenda, along with a silent auction and a chance to win a valuable gem.

The theme for 2010 is "Masked Ball." Attendees are given a black mask with ticket purchase and invited to customize it with as much flair as they wish -- or wear it as is.

"It's easy for people to participate in but allows for a lot of creativity and adds a little mystery," Marketing and PR Chair Wynn Hausser said of the mask theme.

Black-and-white formal wear is encouraged but not required.

Co-chair Pat Emslie said the decorations will reflect the theme by representing cultures and areas of the world that traditionally hold masquerades, including New Orleans, Brazil and Venice (complete with gondola and singing gondolier).

Gourmet food from about 40 local restaurants will be offered, including dishes from MacArthur Park, The Oaxacan Kitchen, Mantra, Bodeguita Del Medio, La Morenita and many others (view complete list). Highlights include fresh oysters from The Fish Market and hand-rolled truffles from Sweets by Sue.

One lucky attendee will score a sparkly treasure with his or her glass of bubbly. Palo Alto's Gleim the Jeweler has once again donated a diamond, and $35 buys a glass of champagne and chance at winning the gem.

Entertainment for the evening will be featured on three stages (located outdoors on the patio and amphitheater, and indoors in the ballroom). Headliner Foreverland, a 14-piece Michael Jackson tribute act, will perform classic hits from the King of Pop from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., alongside the funk and soul music of local group BASSment from 7-9:30 p.m., the rhythm and blues of The Fabulous Hummerz in the ballroom from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and spun selections by DJ Audio Hermit late into the evening. Fans of Celtic music can look forward to a performance by The San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers.

"We had the fiddlers a few years ago and they were so popular people really wanted them back for a repeat performance," Emslie said.

The event is a city tradition since 1987, when the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation was formed and the first Black & White Ball held as a means to save the city's historic May Fete children's parade (then endangered due to budget cuts). The ball was a hit, and nearly 1,500 are expected to attend this year, according to Hausser.

"Last time we raised around $70,000 (after production costs) and we hope to again," Emslie said.

This year's beneficiaries include Youth Community Service (YCS), the Recreation Foundation's Middle School Athletics Program, the Palo Alto Library Foundation, the Palo Alto Family YMCA and Partners in Education (PiE).

The Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online, is the media sponsor of the event.

Tickets are $135 per person (to entice a younger crowd, people age 35 and under get in for only $90). Ticket costs are tax deductible and can be purchased online via PayPal, in person at the Lucie Stern Community Center (including the night of the event), or by telephone at 650-463-4900.

There will be no parking available at the venue. Shuttles will run from the Palo Alto High School parking lot to Lucie Stern Community Center.

More information, including video of an artist decorating her mask for the event, is available at

Related story:

Black & White Ball may be less gray this year

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