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A barefoot black tie gala was held in Hope Town to celebrate a year of fundraising for the specialty panes required for the Elbow Reef Lighthouse. Left to right: Annie Potts, Lisa Ballard, Phyllis Drori and Lory Kenyon. Photo credit: Mary Mchenry Photography.

Barefoot Black Tie and Diamond Glass Gala Dinner Thanks Lighthouse Donors

By Phyllis Drori

After almost a year of planning and fundraising, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society held their first ever “Barefoot Black Tie” to say thank you and honour some of the many donors of the specialty, diamond glass panes. It took place on Friday, February 10, 2017 at Hope Town Inn & Marina.

The panes, an expensive and rare commodity, encase the top of the Lighthouse. Over the years many have been broken. The Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society has been raising funds to replace the broken panels.

A long “Downton Abbey” style table was set in the sand and lined with white roses, white candles and an overhead chandelier. Silent auction items were also on display, but guarded by “Pirate Jack.”  Thirty guests eventually arrived in style, some sporting tuxedos and top hats.

The festivities started at 5:00pm around the bar of the Hope Town Inn & Marina.

After a bit of “meet & greet”, the shuttle drivers moved everyone over to the lighthouse grounds, where all gathered around the Lighthouse Gift Shoppe.

A table was set with champagne, which had been donated by Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits (BBB Properties), in Marsh Harbour. With a glass in everyone’s hand, Phyllis Drori said a few quick words to thank the donors and explain what the next steps are for the Society and the Lighthouse.

At the entrance of the Lighthouse, the crowd gathered. Kent LeBoutillier, Lisa Ballard, Lory Kenyon, Annie Potts and Phyllis Drori stood on the top stairs, in front of a red ribbon. Kent LeBoutillier had constructed a wooden stand and had one of the diamond glass panes erected on it for display.

Everyone was attentive during the presentation. The evening’s brisk, cold air and wind had no dampening effect on the crowd’s spirit.

Lory Kenyon continued with a short speech about the project, and thanked everyone for their continued support and love of the Lighthouse. She then cut the ribbon amid applause.

All were invited to go into the lighthouse at that point, where everyone who purchased a pane, or two, could find their names on individual brass plaques, mounted on a huge wooden structure, supported by a huge easel that was constructed by Chris Ballard. The top of the board looks like the top of the lighthouse, including a weather vane. As brisk as it was, some guests took the opportunity and climbed the stairs up to witness Jeffrey Forbes, one of the lightkeepers, as he lit the lantern.

Back at the Marina, live music was performed by Miko and Wilner Pierre. Gourmet hors d’oeuvres were distributed as guests perused silent auction items.

Around 7:30pm, the guests were asked to find their assigned seating so the gala dinner could commence. Dinner was an outstanding six courses – created by Chef Tobi Drori and executed by Carleton Lebrun, the marina’s chef.

After dinner, Chef Carleton along with his staff emerged from the kitchen to be personally thanked. From dressing up with black bow ties, to their outstanding service, all recognized their hard work and applauded.

Afterwards, Lisa Ballard announced that the silent auction was going to close soon. After all said and done, $2,000 was raised – which is enough to purchase another of the specialty diamond glass panes.

Special thanks to Lisa Ballard for helping to coordinate the event, and Mary McHenry, a professional photographer who lives on Elbow Cay, for donating her time to take some beautiful pictures.

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