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Hundreds celebrate Palo Alto Black & White Ball

Event benefits youth services in Palo Alto

Hundreds of well-dressed revelers donned masks, noshed on gourmet food from 40 local restaurants and danced under the stars at the Palo Alto Black & White Ball Saturday night.

The biennial dinner-dance and community fundraiser, spearheaded by the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation, filled the hallways and patios of the Lucie Stern Community Center with party-goers, some dressed in sparkling ball gowns and well-pressed tuxedos.

The theme for 2010 was "Masked Ball," and attendees responded -- with masks adorned with feathers, sequins and jewels of all colors.

One highlight of the evening was the appearance of Foreverland, a 14-piece Michael Jackson tribute band, who performed classic hits from the King of Pop in one of three venues at the Ball. On a temporary dance floor laid out under the clear nighttime sky, more than a hundred revelers crowded in to groove, shimmy and show off their best "soulful robot" moves to "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller."

The Ball brought out city officials, including City Manager James Keene, school district Superintendent Kevin Skelly, City Councilmembers Greg Scharff, Yiaway Yeh and Gail Price, school board members Camille Townsend and Dana Tom, and former council members Peter Drekmeier and Jack Morton, among others.

The silent auction attracted numerous bidders on items such as lunches with officials, a Stanford shopping spree and retail gift packages. A homecooked Persian dinner for six donated by Community Services Recreation Services Manager Khashayar "Cash" Alaee was valued at $300 but had already attracted more than $500 with at least a half-hour to go until bidding closed.

Ball committee member Wynn Hausser called the event "a smashing success" and noted that it was produced largely by volunteers who invest hundreds of hours into the planning. "We were very pleased."

"More than anything, the feel and atmosphere -- each room and location had a different flavor. There was something for everybody," Hausser said.

"People who come are sold for the future. Our biggest challenge is getting people in the door," he said.

Local restaurants providing food included Junnoon, Quattro, Crowne Plaza Cabana, Il Fornaio, Pampas, Caffe del Doge and many others.

Ball co-chair Pat Emslie said the decorations -- which included giant masks -- reflected the theme by representing cultures and areas of the world that traditionally hold masquerades, including New Orleans, Brazil and Venice.

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 this year nearly 1,500 people attended, according to Hausser.

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 was the media sponsor of the event.

Were you at the Ball? Submit your photos to the Palo Alto Online photo gallery!

— Palo Alto Online staff

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