OAKHURST — We caught up with a couple of the organizers behind this weekend’s big event, the Lover’s Masquerade Ball to benefit the Oakhurst Boys & Girls Club (BGC). Busy prepping for the big night, we spoke with Maria the Russian and Susan Macauley, standing in for son Bob. Bob Macauley is the President of the BGC and Maria is on the Board.
Maria’s the mom of two boys who go to Oakhurst Elementary School, and most days they pile out of class at the day’s end and head right over the bridge to the BGC.
At this point in time, the BGC is the place to be. Somewhere between 75 to 100 young people cross that bridge every single weekday under Director Jennifer Simmons, a small staff, and very few volunteers. Since January they’ve had over 300 signups. Think of that many kids who are safely ensconced in the nurturing, fun and educational BGC as compared with them randomly walking around town or hanging out at home, perhaps alone. That’s how important the BGC is to youth in the mountain communities. And there’s nothing more important than our youth.
So as a parent and volunteer with the organization, Maria decided to pull together an extravaganza — thus, the Lover’s Masquerade Ball was born. It’s on Saturday, Feb.10 starting at 8 p.m. at the Yosemite Gateway Restaurant. 21 and older please. This is for the grownups.
Billed as music, dancing and a night of mysterious romancing that’s not to be missed, Maria says one of the most exciting things about planning the event has been seeing how enthusiastic people are about the costume element of the evening. Let’s just say we hear that wardrobe is ready to party.
With complimentary champagne and hors d’oeuvres, live music, raffle and entertainment set to include Mana Fire Dancers, the event is shaping up to be a night of wild elegance and elaborate escapades. Dress to impress, the invitation says, as you will be judged. Masks are encouraged. A photographer will be on hand to capture the glory.
Tickets for the event are $25 each and proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club. Because of the teamwork and hustle of the masquerade committee, and the continued generosity of local businesses and individuals, the event is nearing 100 percent sponsorship. This means that proceeds for the BGC will be substantial, provided the community steps out to have a great time Saturday night in support.
Maria says it’s important to remember that the BGC is, at its heart, a club. What do club members do together? They have fun. Together.
“Unity in community is what I would love to help teach the children at BGC, but it starts with us being the example of unity,” says the instigator.
The committee has had a great response from the community in terms of donations, including some 30 items for the raffle. The committee is a dream team as far as Maria is concerned, and the process of putting this event together has been a joy. In a way, they’ve become a family.
And that’s also at the heart of the BGC: family. It was started in 1977 by Bob Macauley’s grandfather Archie Macaulay and Angelo Pizello. Bob has been at the helm of the nonprofit for the last few years, and in that time, it’s grown bigger than anyone had imagined it would. Bob was driving to a Rotary conference when we called the office at Macauley Insurance, but Susan says his grandfather Archie would be proud.
The organization welcomes school-age children from adolescents through teenagers, and often the older students are mentoring the younger ones. Kids come in and do homework first, then they can play. In a recent speech contest, Oakhurst came in first and second place in the entire district, and the top-scoring participant received a scholarship. The organization promotes the educational, vocational, health, leadership, and character of local youth and offers a variety of award-winning developmental programs to help build skills, self-esteem and values. It’s truly an inclusive place.
Remarkable things are happening at the BGC, says Susan, and that’s what people will be supporting Saturday night as they commune in a lover’s paradise with their kids’ parents, their own friends and neighbors.
And it’s in that spirit of support that local businesses have offered up such enticements as a three-night stay at The Redwoods in Yosemite, a night’s stay at Tenaya Lodge with dinner and breakfast included, and an incredible gourmet wine basket assembled by Greg Chapel. That’s just a tease, there’s way more once you walk through the door.
Finally, when you walk out the door at the end of what’s going to be a magical evening, and your designated driver takes you home, please remember that the same good feels you have while you’re dancing can be had while you’re volunteering. Okay, maybe not exactly the same feels but the point is — it’s a club and everybody should stick together. The BGC needs active volunteers — every little drop of time and energy helps. They are grateful for the support of the community for this event and always.
Sponsors for the Lover’s Masquerade Ball include Century 21 Ditton Realty, McGoldrick & McGoldrick, Mint Condition Salon, The Pines Resort at Bass Lake, Walt Bannon Drilling, Yosemite Gateway Restaurant.