Back in my day, when a high school wanted to hold an event they just threw some streamers up in a gym, unfolded a bunch of chairs and called it a party. But that was an untold number of years ago. These days high schools really know how to do it right and last Saturday’s Great Oak High School’s Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Spirit for Athletics Gala at Pechanga was a top-of-the-line, no-detail-left-undone, out-and-out BASH.
“We called it Tuxedos and Tennis shoes because this is a formal black tie gala to raise money for our weight room,” said Great Oak parent Amanda Schwarzer, who handled the event’s PR. “Then we want to make this a yearly event that will raise money for Great Oak’s athletics in general”
As four hundred formally dressed guests made their way to Pechanga’s grand ballroom, they were greeted by Great Oak’s jazz band. These kids sounded just like professionals and their music heralded the start of an amazing evening.
There was time before dinner for everyone to mingle, sip wine and beer from the bar, and check out the wide array of unique silent auction items. From a signed Justin Bieber poster to a Swarowski bracelet to a baseball bat autographed by the Padre Hall of Fame Players worth twelve thousand dollars, there really was something for just about everyone.
Guests also tried their luck with a raffle, hoping their tickets would win prizes such as a free pizza-a-month for a whole year from the Pizza Factory or a $100 Macy’s gift card. But the HUGE prize that everyone was coveting was the candy-apple red Camaro donated by Paradise Chevrolet. At only $20 a ticket, most attendees bought at least one. (The winner ended up being an organizer’s housekeeper who was not at the gala.)
After the crowd was seated, they were welcomed by Great Oak’s Athletic Director Bobby Arban, and then treated to a video featuring the high school’s athletics and other extracurricular activities. The formal dinner was fantastic. Pechanga knows how to serve a lot of people in style, and the delicious chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh sautéed veggies was quickly inhaled by the hungry crowd. This was followed by wine glasses filled with Tiramisu layered with caramel, pralines, and shaved chocolate.
Guest speaker Marshall Faulk – an NFL Hall of Fame running back and SDSU great – took the stage and talked about how “education goes hand in hand with sports.” He went on to say that “the NFL has classes too. If you hate school in college you won’t do well in the NFL.” His speech was only fifteen minutes long but very inspiring, and won a lot of warm applause.
After the silent auction winners were announced, Brad Bassi, the Gala’s master of ceremonies, ran the live auction. Two San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders helped model the items which included two uber-cute Yorkshire Terriers, a Green Bay Packers helmet signed by the players (which went for $3200), and a one week house rental in the Bahamas that was purchased for $5,000.
The evening was capped off with live music and dancing, and all-in-all was a very successful event. Guests had a fabulous time, a great deal of money was raised for the kids, and I won’t be surprised if next year’s Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Gala is one of Temecula’s “must-attend” parties. Not bad for a high school fundraiser, eh?