Sweetheart Gala makes some logistical changes, but song and dance remain the same
What: Annual Sweetheart Gala
When: 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31
Where: St. Mary of the Assumption Grand Hall, 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd.
Cost: $60 and $70
This year’s Sweetheart Gala will include a couple of changes, says Bret Hughes, assistant director of bands at Park City High School.
The event, which is a dining and dancing fundraiser for PC Bands, the umbrella organization over all the band programs at Treasure Mountain Junior High School and Park City High School, will come a couple of weeks early on Friday, Jan. 31, at St. Mary of the Assumption’s main hall, and it will feature a new menu by Rockwell Catering, said Hughes.
“In the past, the gala was always held the Friday before Valentine’s Day weekend, somewhere between Feb. 8 and 14, but the hall, which we have used for the past 10 years, wasn’t available then,” Hughes said. “We moved to a different weekend, because we have a great working relationship with St. Mary’s, and there isn’t another venue that we felt was appropriate for the event.”
Jan. 31 is also in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival’s closing weekend.
“It may present some excitement that we haven’t experienced before,” he said.
The three-course dinner won’t be one of those challenges, Hughe said.
All entrees are gluten-free and there are vegetarian options, and the deadline for requests is Wednesday, Jan. 22, he said.
Requests can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rockwell Catering, which is based in Murray, is a perfect fit for the Sweetheart Gala because of owner Chef Ethan Ingram’s connection with music, according to Hughes.
“He has a huge music background in addition to his catering background,” Hughes said Ingram. “He is a trumpet player, and his dad was a jazz drummer. (Ingram) told us he is very excited to partner with our program and support the event.”
The dinner will be served by PC Band students and their parents, Hughes said.
“Not only will they serving the food and bus the tables, parents and students will also greet the guests when they arrive and help them find their seats.”
The night will also feature opportunity drawings and a silent auction, Hughes said.
“We have a committee that solicit items, which are bundled for the auction and drawings,” he said. “The silent auction runs online prior to the event. So anyone who can’t attend the gala can still make bids on silent auction items.”
The night will cap off with three hours of dancing to music played by Park City High School’s Jazz Band, conducted by Chris Taylor, director of PC Bands.
“The style of music will be vintage big band, but not all the compositions are old,” Hughes said. “The musicians will play a variety of jazz styles, including contemporary swing songs that have been written in the past 5, 10 or 15 years. There are artists, such as Michael Buble, today that are creating swing-dance genre music based off of music from the past.”
The overall goal for the annual Sweetheart Gala is to raise money for the musicians’ extracurricular opportunities, Hughes said.
“Park City School District is a phenomenal supporter of music education, and it provides an enormous amount of resources for curricular education,” he said. “The money we raise at the gala, and during Live PC Give PC, are for events and events that don’t take place during regular school hours.”
Those programs include Marching Band, which doesn’t rehearse during the school day, Steel Drum Band and Dixieland Band, Hughes said.
“It’s also used to bring in guest artists and clinicians,” he said. “The demand in this community for world-class music education is always so driving that we want to offer that to our students. And we like to think we are doing that above and beyond what Park City School District is able to offer the students within the curriculum.”
Hughes expects the event to raise more than $20,000, which is a far cry from the $1,000 it raised when the gala was introduced 15 years ago.
“When it first started, a couple of years before I started teaching at the school, the gala was just dinner and dancing,” he said. “One parent worked on behalf of the band program to organize it, and booked the Yarrow Hotel’s ballroom.”
The Yarrow, now the Hilton Doubletree, catered the event, and the band played for about 200 people, Hughes said.
“Today we have a parent committee of 15 who coordinate everything from catering to ticket sales,” he said. “And the biggest growth of the event has been the silent auction and opportunity drawings. While the money raised at the gala is probably 25 percent of PC Band’s total operating budget of the year, it also represents 70% of the budget for the organization’s non curricular programs.”
Over the years, the Sweetheart Gala has also become more than just a dinner and dance, Hughes said.
A few months ago, Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea who attended the gala last year, told Hughes the event is a community builder.
“We feel the same way about it, because it’s not an event just for band parents,” he said. “It supports the arts. It supports music education, and it’s a way for people to come together, and dance to a style of live music that we don’t usually have access to all that often. There are people who come every year, and we get to see them. And that’s what it’s about.”
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