Gala Tickets Going Fast

Mount BensonMore than half the tickets for the Mount Benson gala night on Saturday, February 17, 2007, have already been sold. Mountain Moments: Past, Present and Future is being organized by the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust to celebrate the start of a second year of fundraising for the Campaign to Save Mount Benson. This event in the ballroom of the Coast Bastion Inn in downtown Nanaimo promises to be a fun and full evening, with many things happening from moment to moment.

Doors will open at 6:00 pm to a ballroom decorated to simulate a hike up the mountain. Guests will be greeted by five community leaders who have agreed to be patrons for the evening, and volunteers working the event will be dressed in a variety of costumes from different eras of the mountain. The first hour will focus on socializing and placing first bids on more than 60 silent auction items. A First Nations wood carver will be working on final touches to a piece that will he will donate to the auction later in the evening.

At 7:00 pm, a gourmet banquet will be served, and during dessert there will be a fashion show of First Nations garments. A stunning five-minute video titled A Hike up Mount Benson will be shown just prior to the start of a live auction that will feature over 20 items and will be conducted by professional auctioneer Barbara Richards. Auction items include a wide range of great getaway and adventure packages, as well as some fine art and craft items, gift parcels, three bicycles plus accessories, yard and gardening services, spa and fitness packages, and some very unusual items!

Throughout the evening, there will be a series of "surprise" activities and moments for guests to watch for and enjoy. Live music will provide a backdrop to the evening, and will carry on with music for dancing after the auction wraps up.

The organizers want to stress that this gala is not meant to be a "black tie" affair, and dressing up for the evening is optional. Guests are welcome to share the mood of "mountain moments" by coming in costumes that reflect the past, present or future of the mountain if they choose.

Apart from a gala evening of fun and fantasy, the main focus of this event is to raise a portion of the funds still needed by NALT to meet a February 28, 2007, deadline. A year ago, NALT signed an agreement with the Regional District of Nanaimo to hand over a cheque for $237,500 (or half of half of the purchase price) on that date. As of January 25, NALT has raised about $150,000 of the needed funds - so organizers hope that the evening will be a sellout and a great success.

The ballroom has a maximum seating capacity of 240, and with more that 50 percent of the seats already sold, people are urged to not wait until the last minute to get their tickets for this one. Tickets are priced at $89, and purchasers receive a $50 charitable tax receipt on each one. If you make up a table of 10, when you buy a reserved table you get one seat free (bringing the price down to just $80).

Tickets are available at the following Nanaimo outlets: Backyard Wild Bird and Nature Store on Metral Drive, Alberni Outpost in Country Club Centre, Falconer's Books in Port Place, or NALT Stewardship Centre at 140 Wallace Street. For more information about this event or the overall campaign, call NALT at (250) 714-1990.

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