Conservancy supporters celebrate at ‘Camp Catalina’ ball

Hiking boots and walking sticks were traded in for tuxedos and gowns last Saturday, April 13, as nearly 400 guests attended Camp Catalina—the 18th Annual Catalina Island Conservancy Ball—held in the beautiful Avalon Casino Ballroom.

“This event is only possible through the kindness and hard work of many donors, sponsors, volunteers and, of course, our dedicated staff,” said Conservancy Board Chair John Cotton. “We appreciate all that they all do for Catalina.”

Hiking boots and walking sticks were traded in for tuxedos and gowns last Saturday, April 13, as nearly 400 guests attended Camp Catalina—the 18th Annual Catalina Island Conservancy Ball—held in the beautiful Avalon Casino Ballroom.

“This event is only possible through the kindness and hard work of many donors, sponsors, volunteers and, of course, our dedicated staff,” said Conservancy Board Chair John Cotton. “We appreciate all that they all do for Catalina.”

This year’s Ball theme evoked halcyon days spent in the Island’s sparkling coves, or on hiking trails with spectacular views.

Avalon’s Boy and Girl Scouts greeted guests with cheers of “Welcome to Camp Catalina,” as they made their way up the ramps of the Casino Ballroom.

Ivory satin drapes tied with blue sashes created the ambience of entering an elegant tent. Inside the Ballroom, live native trees and large faux trees adorned the perimeter of the dance floor.

The tables and chairs were draped with navy blue shantung and gold and blue plaid table linens, while whimsical illuminated centerpieces displayed a deconstructed version of s’mores.

“The Ball is the Conservancy’s single largest annual fundraising event for our non-profit organization,” said Ann Muscat, Conservancy president and CEO. “We are so grateful to the many who came to celebrate with us for the evening, and for their generosity which funds our mission programs in conservation, education and recreation.”

The auction comprised more than 200 treasures for guests to explore and bid on before and during the dinner.

A few of the more popular items included a one-of-a-kind Balthazar bottle, 12-liters of Rusack’s Santa Catalina Island Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir; a first edition book signed by Zane Grey; and two vintage Catalina Casino Hats that were believed to have been worn by ticket and coat check girls in the Casino’s hey day.

Dinner was a sumptuous three-course gourmet feast in the tradition of a rustic fire-roasted outdoor feast. Chef Paul Hancock, corporate executive chef of the Santa Catalina Island Company, emphasized his “farm to table” philosophy of sourcing local and seasonal products from sustainable producers.

For dessert, guests enjoyed a sweet twist on a camping staple—s’mores that featured layers of graham cracker, bittersweet dark chocolate and melted marshmallow, with a delicate genoise sponge cake garnished with organic cocoa nibs and tangerine zest.

A team of students from Chapman University presented a special wildlife film. The film project, spearheaded by Avalon resident Spencer Creigh, included a time-lapsed sunset, stately bison, and rare night footage of a Catalina Island fox balancing on a tree limb.

The live auction kicked off with a generous challenge grant of $15,000 by Helen and James Rosburg, Helen Rosburg is the great-granddaughter of William Wrigley Jr. The gift was specifically earmarked to fund the Conservancy’s fox recovery and bison management programs. Several minutes of rapid-fire bidding met and then exceeded the challenge.

Doors opened for Avalon-residents after the live auction for dancing to the sounds of Society Beat, a 16-piece band from San Diego.

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