DAVENPORT – Every major event needs a really good theme, and in the past few years, the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village felt it had just that with its annual Masquerade Ball.
Costumes, mystery, extravagant outfits — what more could you ask for in an evening out?
But this year, the huge event that will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Reunion Resort and Club, will have something extra, something special, Rich Mergo noted.
It may not be February in New Orleans, but by the end of the month, it will be time for Mardi Gras at Reunion.
“This year it’s a Mardi Gras theme,” said Mergo, the director of development at the Dream Village in Loughman.
This big bash is the largest annual fund-raiser for the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village, a non-profit organization that answers the dreams of chronically ill, physically challenged, and abused children by providing them and their families with a trip to the local theme parks.
And this year, the Masquerade Ball has a very significant – and large – contributor.
“Universal Studios is helping us with the decorations for the Mardi Gras theme, since they’re letting us borrow some of the decorations they have,” Mergo said. “We’re very excited and appreciative that they’re letting us borrow some of their props so it has more of a Mardi Gras theme.”
Not surprisingly, that also helps sell tickets, Mergo said.
“We’re expecting over 200 guests this year,” he said. “Tickets are on sale now.”
The Masquerade Ball, which will provide its guests with dinner, dancing and live entertainment in the grand ballroom at the Reunion resort, is designed to help this organization continue to operate and serve children in need. All proceeds from the ball — including funds raised from silent and live auctions and a raffle — will benefit the Dream Village, a 22-acre retreat at 5400 County Road 547 N. in Loughman, which provides lodging and support for families coming to this region for a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation.
This ball, organized entirely by volunteers, is what helps the Dream Village carry out its yearly mission, Mergo noted.
“It’s the third annual Masquerade Ball, our largest fund-raiser for the Dream Village each year, and we’ll have silent and live auctions, dinner, and dancing,” he said. “It’s a formal event, so it’s a lot of fun, and we’ll have five of our dream recipients with their families as well who are here in Central Florida for their dream experience.”
There have been some impressive items donated for the auctions, he added.
“We have for our live auction tickets for the mayor’s box at the Amway Center for an Orlando Magic game next year against Chicago — for 16 people,” he said. “One of our top items is going to be for 10 people to ride on a Mardi Gras float at the Universal Studios parade next year. Then we’ll also have autograph material, electronics, jewelry – a little bit of everything.”
The ball has been held every year at Reunion, a golf and family vacation resort at 7593 Gathering Drive in Kissimmee, close to the Dream Village itself.
“They are our closest neighbors,” Mergo said. “It’s only three miles door-to-door from Dream Village to Reunion, and they have been great partners with us, helping us grow this event and keep the costs low and give it that formal feel.”
He noted that Chris Shimkus, Reunion’s director of catering and conference services, has been preparing a sumptuous meal for those attending the ball.
“It’s black tie optional, tuxedoes and gowns,” Mergo said. “It’s a nice evening out. We will have entertainment and music, and it’s all coming together this month.”
And hopefully the fund-raiser also serves its main purpose, Mergo added.
“Each year it has grown a little bit,” he said. “We’re hoping by the time we reach our fifth year, we’ll be able to sell out the ballroom. We have an amazing group of volunteers who help put this together and work all year long to make it happen. It’s a beautiful event and it’s a lot of fun, and we raise a lot of funds for the Dream Village itself. We raise funds — and we raise awareness of the village and its mission.”
Sponsorships for the Masquerade Ball are still available, and tickets can be purchased individually or as corporate tables. Special room and golf rates for this event have been arranged at Reunion, which is a Wyndham Grand resort.
Tickets are $150 each, or $1,000 for a table of ten. To learn more, call 800-457-1976 or visit Dream Village.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.