The annual themed dinner party fundraiser for the Stevens Point YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Portage County will cost $40 per ticket and can be purchased at the YMCA. Music, prizes, food and décor will all have Cuban feel to fit the theme.
“The whole idea of the event is to create a paradise. There are decorations that really give the feel of being somewhere different,” said Brittany Melby, director of development and marketing for the Boys and Girls Club.
Passport to Paradise is the Boys and Girls Club third largest fundraiser of the year. The event usually raises around $30,000, which goes to benefit the YMCA and the club.
Preparation for this event begins months in advance, with a committee made up of 12 volunteers from the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club. Each year they select a theme and find food, decorations and prizes to fit the theme. In past years they have had themes such as Las Vegas, Pirates and Cheese Heads of Paradise.
Approximately 200 people attend the event each year.
Kevin Quevillon, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, said he hopes to match and exceed that number this year. Some people dress up to fit the theme of the event, although Melby said there is no required dress code.
The Holiday Inn will provide Cuban cuisine, served buffet style. Quevillon said the food and decorating committee is working to create a truly tropical experience.
Madisalsa, a salsa band from Madison, will play live music, providing a high energy atmosphere. Melby said the band has been known to pull people onto the dance floor to teach the more novice dancers a few salsa steps to get the crowd moving.
A silent auction is also held each year. A few of the items being auctioned this year are an ATV and weekend getaway trip to a cottage in northern Wisconsin. In addition to the auction, every person who attends is entered in a raffle. Prizes for this year’s raffle have yet to be selected, but Quevillon said they are usually donated items, sometimes big ticket items or cash prizes.
“We have sponsors that cover all the costs so we really have no expenses for this event,” Quevillon said.
Tickets are $10 less this year than in previous years in an effort to make the event more accessible to a younger crowd.
“I would rather have more people in the door and seeing what the event is all about than be charging more money,” Melby said.
“This year we really wanted to target a younger demographic, have a younger audience, young business professionals. It is almost like a networking event as well as a social event,” she said.
“This is one of our original fundraising events and it’s a significant event. We want to invite some of those young professionals in as our future leaders, our future board members, Quevillon said.
The event was originally named Passport to Paradise because a trip to a paradise vacation was raffled off. The idea was the winners would leave from the event, get into a plane and fly away that night, Melby said.
As romantic as the idea was, she said, not everyone can leave for vacation on a moment’s notice so the event developed into bringing paradise to Steven Point instead.
Quevillon said an original reason for starting the event 12 years ago was to show the collaborative spirit between the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club.
“There was some concern in the community that the Boys and Girls Club would be a duplication of services. We wanted to kind of squash that thought process and show that the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA in particular could immediately become collaborative and that each organization has its purpose and its niche,” Quevillon said.