AVALON, Calif. – More than 20 years ago, Randy Boelsems recalls a beautiful Catalina day, when he was sitting on his boat, admiring the historic Casino Ballroom and thinking: Wouldn't it be great to go to an event there? From that one thought came years of elegant, exciting and entertaining events at the Casino Ballroom that have supported the Catalina Island Conservancy. This year, on April 11, Randy and hundreds more guests will be back in the Casino Ballroom to celebrate the 20th Annual Conservancy Ball, "Leapin' Lizards! An Emerald Celebration."
This year’s ball promises to be a fun-filled evening of dining and dancing to the sounds of Society Beat, one of Southern California’s most popular, modern-day Big Bands. It will feature an elegant, art deco inspired theme. Guests will also enjoy the excitement of a live and silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind items and adventures, including a day in the field with the Conservancy’s wildlife biologists as they conduct the annually Island fox trapping and a crowd-favorite – a hand-etched balthazar of Rusack Vineyards wine. As it has for the past 20 years, this year’s Conservancy Ball will benefit the organization’s many programs on the Island.
The Corsair Yacht Club will be returning as the Conservancy Ball’s co-host for an unprecedented third time. The Corsairs hosted the first Conservancy Ball in 1996 when Randy was the commodore and convinced the yacht club to help him make his idea a reality. He said the members worked together to plan the event and decided that it should benefit the Conservancy.
“When we planned the first ball, we didn’t think there would be a second one,” he said. “But that first one was magic. It was really magic.”
Les Brown and his Band of Renown, one of the most famous of the Big Bands, played at that first ball in 1996 and every ball until Brown’s death in January 2001. His son led the band at the 2001 ball and other bands have performed since, continuing the tradition of the Big Band sound throughout the Conservancy Ball’s history.
Critical to the Conservancy Ball’s success are the many volunteers from the Island who donate their time and energy, and the many people working on the Island who provide such great hospitality to our guests.
For the hundreds of people who come to Catalina for the Conservancy Ball, we thank everyone who helps us to make it such a memorable evening. As Randy says: “For my wife and me, the Conservancy ball weekend has been the most romantic weekend of the year for 20 years.”
By Bob Reid
If you would like to volunteer for this year’s ball, please call Lesly Lieberman at 310-510-2595 ext. 112. To purchase tickets or sponsorships for the event, visit online at CatalinaConservancy.org. Bob Reid is the Conservancy’s chief development and communications officer.
The Catalina Island Conservancy was formed in 1972 and is one of California’s oldest land trusts. Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation. The Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land, 62 miles of rugged shoreline and more than 80 miles of trails. It operates the Airport in the Sky, Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden and two nature centers. Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is home to more than 60 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. - Watch Video
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