La Luz raises $85K at Copacabana
THE LADIES OF Alchemystics delighted the crowd at La Luz's Copacabana while dancing on stilts.
William Murray/Special to the Index-Tribune
The glitz and glamour of 1940s Brazil was alive and kicking in the Sonoma Barracks Sunday night when Noche en Copacabana came to town. A fundraiser to benefit La Luz Center, the event was an updated version of the popular Noche de Luna that served as the organization's signature fundraiser.
"We are absolutely thrilled, the auction brought in $85,000 and although all our numbers are not yet complete, we believe that, overall, we have netted more than ever before and will be able to offer all of our programs at least through the end of 2011," said Yvonne Hall, La Luz' executive director.
Nearly 400 guests dressed for the occasion, wearing everything from colorful ruffled dresses to classic, crisp white suits. The rhythmic beat of the nine-piece Cuban orchestra, Orquesta La Moderna Tradición, could be heard across the Plaza. Stilt-walkers dressed as exotic birds towered above the crowd, taking photos and keeping the cocktail hour lively as guests sipped on Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine, wines from Highway 12 and caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail, made with sugar cane rum, sugar and lime - although instead of rum bartenders poured Skyy Vodka.
The flavorful scent of Latin American specialties, prepared by Elaine Bell Catering, hung in the air. Attendees feasted on saffron-rich paella, a variety of Cuban sandwiches, pulled pork and apple cider slaw and Niman Ranch skirt steak and spiced chicken breast skewers.
During the evening's program, soprano Shelia Whitney served as a colorful "Carmen Miranda" and mistress of ceremonies. Hall and Marcelo Defreitas, a La Luz board member and chair of the fundraiser, spoke about the variety of programs La Luz offers, from basic English classes to health programs.
The live auction offered everything from flights in a vintage aircraft to a Cuban-style dinner party complete with suckling pig.
The top selling item, which went for $5,400, was a week's stay at Fallen Leaf Lake in a stunning estate that has been featured in films such as "City of Angels." During the fund-a-need, guests opened their wallets and donated more than $35,000 to support La Luz's myriad programs.
The night ended with a stunning Brazilian performance by the Aquarela, a Berkeley-based dance troupe who have performed at Carnival in San Francisco, while guests enjoyed frozen chocolate bananas and coffee.
Final event totals are still being calculated.