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West Hartford Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball Will Spotlight Local Nonprofits

West Hartford's four most recent mayors (from left): Rob Bouvier, Scott Slifka, Jonathan Harris, and current Mayor Shari Cantor have presided over the Ball since its inception and are all honorary members of the 2018 Mayor's Charity Ball Committee. Courtesy photo

The 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball will continue West Hartford’s tradition of giving back to local nonprofits.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor will preside over the 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball on May 12, a gala that will benefit two local nonprofits that directly impact the town.

“The Mayor’s Charity Ball is a special and memorable event that supports two of West Hartford’s most impactful charities,” Cantor said in a news release announcing this year’s event. “West Hartford’s tradition of giving has kept these charities effective and thriving, and reflects the community’s caring for each other, making West Hartford a wonderful place to live, work, and play for everyone.”

The recipients of monies raised from the Ball will once again be Playhouse on Park and The Town That Cares. According to organizers, proceeds from the 2017 event supported the increased demand for  use of the West Hartford Food Pantry as well as youth programming at the Playhouse.

“The Town that Cares responds to our basic belief that no one should go hungry. Playhouse on Park, a professional theater, adds a tremendous vitality to our community,” Cantor said. “These nonprofits add character to our town, and the Mayor’s Charity Ball is able to support them with funds because of the community’s generosity and engagement that is a part of our fabric of life.”

 

 

The Town That Cares Fund has seen a dramatic increase in requests for assistance over the past several years, and Community Partnerships Manager Suzanne Oslander said that the number of bags of food distributed by the Food Pantry rose by 20 percent – from 5,000 to 6,000 – over the past fiscal year, and by a staggering 617 percent over the past 10 years.

Needs go beyond food. “Last year, 651 students participated in the Back To School Backpack program,” Oslander said in the release. “This fall, we provided backpacks and gift cards for school supplies to 740 students. The need just keeps rising.”

Playhouse on Park offers high-quality entertainment at an affordable cost to a wide audience, and since its founding in 2009 the organization has played an important role in the fabric and diversity of West Hartford. Tracey Flater, the executive director of Playhouse on Park, noted that the organization has received critical acclaim, including from the New York Times.

Playhouse on Park offers a Mainstage series and Young Audience Series, as well as other events. “Playhouse on Park’s diversity in programming – from recognized titles to emerging works – has always been one of our strengths,” Flater said in the release.

Flater said that the two organizations have developed a great working relationship over the past several years. “We really enjoy collaborating with the board members and each other, because everyone is focused on the end goal – and that’s helping the community,” she said.

One of West Hartford’s signature events, the 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball will be held at Town Hall on May 12, 2018, beginning at 6 p.m. with an open bar cocktail reception in the auditorium featuring hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, and a silent auction.

Guests will move into the “Grande Tent” on the grounds of Town Hall at 8 p.m., where they will be welcomed by Cantor and enjoy a sit-down gourmet meal, entertainment, and a live auction including raising of paddles. Doro Restaurant Group has been chosen as caterer for this year, and Playhouse on Park will provide entertainment.

Following dinner, the popular dance and party band Locomotion will take the stage, with dancing from 10 p.m. until midnight.

The Mayor’s Charity Ball was established by then-mayor Rob Bouvier in 2000, and has been supported by his successors Jonathan Harris, Scott Slifka, and Cantor. This is Cantor’s second year presiding over the Ball, which was moved to the lawn of Town Hall in 2011.

Tickets to the Mayor’s Charity Ball are now on sale, and the entire community is invited to attend. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit the website.

 

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