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The popping up of pumpkin patches in parking lots, appearance of autumnal colors in department stores and slight drop in heat and humidity herald fall’s arrival. The change of seasons also signals the start of the society scene in South Florida.
Palm Beach County’s ballrooms, banquet halls and beach resorts are becoming booked with charity events that begin this month and run through May. It’s a booming business, but with the money going toward bettering the community instead of boosting the bottom line. Non-profits from the American Heart Association to the YMCA of the Palm Beaches have designated the dates for their breakfasts, luncheons and dinners, as well as their awards ceremonies, fashion shows and live auctions—all to raise money for their respective causes.
Here is a look at 10 of the top events we are anticipating for the 2016-17 season.
Local businessmen, celebrities and personalities will strut their stuff on the catwalk wearing the latest couture to benefit The Arc of Palm Beach County’s programs for adults and children with developmental disabilities and their families. Since 1958, The Arc has offered a continuum of care that spans the entire life cycle of its clients.
Date: Oct. 21
Venue: The Gardens Mall
Highlights: The daringly fun and always lively fashion show will feature a special pair of pants designed by sponsor J.McLaughlin’s co-founder, Kevin McLaughlin. The music will be pumping, and the Champagne will be flowing.
What sets it apart: For the first time, those being served by the organization are joining the fun, as two of the male models are clients of The Arc.
($75 to $125; arcpbc.org/wild-pants-party)
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a free cultural facility in Juno Beach that relies on the generosity of guests, supporters and volunteers to power its mission of ocean and sea turtle conservation. The gathering recognizes those who have contributed to a “blue” lifestyle.
Date: Oct. 28
Venue: PGA National Resort & Spa
Highlights: This season’s keynote speaker is Paul Nicklen, a globally acclaimed biologist and photographer who has been documenting both the beauty and plight of the planet’s oceans for more than 20 years.
What sets it apart: The Eleanor Fletcher Award, named after the founder of the building, recognizes an individual who has exemplified a lifelong commitment to ecologicaleducation efforts, and the Blue Hatchling Youth Award recognizes someone age 16 or younger for “going blue.”
Proceeds from the evening benefit LIFE’s partner programs with the American Humane Association in Palm Beach County, which support a large pet mobile clinic used for animal adoptions and emergency rescue services.
Date: Dec. 3
Venue: The Mar-a-Lago Club
Highlights: The “speakeasy” theme promises an evening of mayhem and mischief beginning with poolside cocktails and a serenade by the Palm Beach Symphony followed by dinner and dancing.
What sets it apart: Singing sensation Gladys Knight, known as the “Empress of Soul,” will headline the night, entertaining attendees with the hits “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Chairwoman Lois B. Pope leads the guest list—a veritable who’s who of the society scene in South Florida.
($550 to $550; life-edu.org)
A gastronomic good time awaits those who attend the indulgent evening that raises money for the arts-education program at the Kravis Center, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. “Everyone in our community has a passion for their charity, but the Kravis Center is the beacon on the hill, our performing arts center,” says Ted Mandes, the event’s founder and chairman.
Date: Jan. 12
Venue: The Mar-a-Lago Club
Highlights: The auction will toast its 10th anniversary by welcoming Abram Bissell of New York City’s The Modern restaurant as executive chef. In addition, performances by alumni of the Kravis Center’s programs will take place throughout the night.
What sets it apart: Guests will have the opportunity to bid on travel packages to London, Montreal and Paris, and exquisite items such as a Baccarat black-crystal bottle of Louis XIII Rare Cask Rémy Martin cognac.
The readiness-response agency feeds, houses and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; promotes humanitarian aid; supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood; supports military members and their families; and teaches critical medical skills. Last season, the ball generated nearly $1 million to further those feats.
Date: Feb. 4
Venue: The Mar-a-Lago Club
Highlights: This season’s white-tie formal will celebrate the 60th International Red Cross Ball as well as the American Red Cross South Florida Region’s 100th year of service.
What sets it apart: The Diamond Centennial will be graced with ambassadors, dignitaries and philanthropic leaders from around the world. Event organizers will carry on the tradition of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s first Palm Beach ball in 1957 by recreating the excitement of the grand galas of Europe.
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is an award-winning regional stage dedicated to enlightening the community through dynamic programming. The annual gala benefits the professional facility and supports the Paul and Sandra Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts.
Date: Feb. 25
Venue: Trump National Golf Club Jupiter
Highlights: The gala will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a three-course meal, live music and an auction.
What sets it apart: During the evening, the story of the theater will be brought to life via a multisensory orchestral presentation. “As a theater organization, we know how to put on a show, and we’re excited to present what our future can be in our premiere event that is intended to inspire and impress,” says Andrew Kato, producing artistic director and chief executive.
The fundraiser for females who love shoes benefits Big Dog Ranch Rescue, whose goal is to become a leader in the animal welfare movement. Proceeds will help house homeless pets until they are adopted.
Date: March 10 and 11
Venue: The Mar-a-Lago Club
Highlights: The fun will begin March 10 with sipping, shopping and silent-auction bidding, a runway show and a luxurious lunch. On March 11, guests will enjoy an evening gala with entertainment, a live auction and adoptable rescue puppies.
What sets it apart: How many charities put on a furry fashion show? This one does, and it will see pooches paw their way down the “dog walk.” In addition, local male celebrities will serve silver platters of wine and shoes.
Jupiter Medical Center’s comprehensive cancer services benefit from the dressy affair that gives patients a chance at life. According to Jupiter Medical Center’s Events Manager Lori Elsbree, a staggering 1.7 million new cases are expected to be diagnosed by the end of the year. It is imperative that the community continues to support cancer care and prevention.
Date: April 1
Venue: The Breakers
Highlights: The Jupiter Medical Center Foundation’s signature event will celebrate its 41st anniversary with a classic theme: “A New York State of Mind.”
What sets it apart: The ambiance of the Big Apple will transport guests to the iconic city via a Manhattan cocktail reception followed by dinner and dancing on Broadway. The night winds down in Little Italy for a festive after-party, lasting until the clock strikes midnight.
Executive Women of the Palm Beaches was founded in 1982 by a small group of local professionals determined to encourage and support female leadership in the community. The WILA Luncheon was a natural extension to its purpose and has helped raise more than $600,000 in scholarship money.
Date: May 11
Venue: Kravis Center
Highlights: Women from four sectors—non-profit, private, public and volunteer—will be recognized. Each of the recipients will receive a bronze sculpture created by artist JoAnne Berkow titled “Free To Be,” symbolizing every woman’s ability to endeavor and excel.
What sets it apart: WILA is an expertly executed event that brings together women from across the county who often describe being nominated as a pinnacle of their careers.
($80 to $150; ewpb.org)
After months of philanthropic efforts, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will give the title of “Man & Woman of the Year” to those who raise the most money for blood cancer research. Candidates will compete to honor local patients Beckett, 10, and Veta, 4, who are currently battling blood cancer. The campaign kicks off on March 9 while the grand finale takes place in May at the Hilton West Palm Beach.
Date: May 19
Venue: Hilton West Palm Beach
Highlights: A silent and live auction, Fund the Fight, cocktails, dinner, dancing and most importantly, the crowning of the 2017 Man & Woman of the Year.
What sets it apart: Local members of the community are raising money and competing to win the titles of Man & Woman of the Year. This year is the 25th anniversary, and all Man & Woman of the Year alumni are invited back to participate.
Blue Water Babes Fishing Tournament
The weekend kicks off with a Friday night party guests attend in costumes that complement their boats’ themes. Saturday starts with a fishing tournament and ends with an awards ceremony, dinner and raffles. Proceeds benefit local breast and ovarian cancer patients. Sept. 30 to Oct. 1; Sailfish Marina; fishforacure.com
The Gentlemen of the Garden’s Devil’s Night
The revered Halloween party that kicks off the social season is awash in devilish costumes, gourmet food and drinks, and live music—all under an elegant and intimate tent. Proceeds support the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. Oct. 29; Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens; $250; thegog.org
Quantum House’s Sugar Plum Dreams Holiday Brunch
This Nutcracker-inspired fundraiser is a sweet way to start the holiday season, as it features mouth watering mimosas and a decadent dessert station. Activities and entertainment for adults and children include an appearance by Santa Claus and a silent auction. Nov. 13; The Gardens Mall; $50 to $150; quantumhouse.org
Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park’s Shop ’til YOU Drop
Shop 30 vendors selling everything from women’s apparel to holiday gifts. The affair includes a buffet lunch, mimosas, a raffle and information about MacArthur Beach State Park’s Natural Science Education Program. Dec. 10; Mirasol; $75; macarthurbeach.org
KidSanctuary Luncheon and Fashion Show
Find signature cocktails, a luxury raffle and door prizes at this year’s eighth annual luncheon and fashion show benefiting the KidSanctuary Campus. Jan. 13; The Gardens Mall; $150; kidsanctuarycampus.org
American Heart Association’s Palm Beach Heart Ball
Take a trip to the French gardens of Versailles during the 62nd annual ball that symbolically takes place on Valentine’s Day to raise money to combat heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. Feb. 14; The Breakers; $800; palmbeachheartball.heart.org
Young Friends of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County’s Evening on Antique Row
Stroll a six-block stretch along South Dixie Highway with gourmet-food trucks and live entertainment, and wander through dozens of shops offering 17th to 20th century antiques, as well as themed VIP tents and a vintage vehicle display. March 4; 3600 to 3900 S. Dixie Highway; $40 to $65; historicalsocietypbc.org
Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County’s Love of Literacy Luncheon
The 26th annual event will help the non-profit provide programs to improve the quality of life in the community by promoting literacy. A book-signing immediately follows the luncheon for all attendees.
March 16; Kravis Center; $300; literacypbc.org