Do you dream of visiting Paris? Ever wish the city of love was located a little closer to our neck of the woods? If so, mark your calendar for the Key Peninsula Civic Center’s Flavors of Fall Dinner Auction on Saturday, Oct. 11. Coordinators say this year’s theme, “An Evening in Paris,” promises to be truly memorable.

Now in its 25th year, the dinner auction has become known in the Key Peninsula area as a chance to support the civic center while reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, enjoying delicious food and drinks, and scoring deals on one-of-a-kind auction items.

Not to mention an opportunity to marvel over decorations converting the center’s gym into the evening’s locale.

Event coordinator and KPCC board member Claudia Loy wouldn’t reveal details about this year’s decorations, but hinted that there might be a mime wandering among the crowd, as well as a photo booth where couples could take a snapshot of themselves with the Eiffel Tower visible behind.

“The decor is a big part of it,” Loy said. “You walk in and people are amazed that we’ve transformed that gym.”

Charged with coordinating the event from the beginning, Loy is always looking for ways to improve. As a result there is a change this year in the way the meal will be served, she said.

In the past the dinner was a sit-down affair, but Loy noticed that with everyone eager to socialize it was difficult to get folks to make their way to their assigned seats so waiters could begin. This year, food will be located at various stations set up around the gym, with everyone free to visit the stations at will. Loy plans a cheese bar and an oyster bar, among others.

Also new this year will be a complimentary glass of champagne for each guest at the check-in table. The event, restricted to those ages 21 and up, will feature a selection of excellent French wines, a signature French drink, as well as a full bar.

After dinner, the live auction is a showcase of unique items and services. Guests will be encouraged to bid on exquisite, locally-made artwork, generously donated vacation spaces, as well as a variety of fun outings.

Loy works hard to select the perfect collection of auction items. Seeking a balance between physical objects and experiences, she notes that as people get older, many are trying to pare down their belongings and aren’t interested in acquiring more “stuff.” For this reason guests are also invited to donate directly to the civic center during the event.

For the civic center, raising funds is what the evening is all about. With ticket prices set at $50, and between 180 and 200 people expected to attend, the civic center brings in the bulk of their donations during the Flavors of Fall fundraiser.

“It is always our aim to try and raise two years’ worth of operational funds for the Center, so, you can imagine how important this event is to us,” said Bruce Macdonald, KPCC treasurer. This year much of the money raised at the auction will go toward the purchase of a new HVAC system.

Loy encourages both new and returning guests to attend.

“The Key Peninsula Civic Center plays a vital part in our community activities. Functions like this are what really brings the community together,” she said.

Tickets are available at Sunnycrest Nursery or at Key Peninsula Civic Center. For more information or to donate an auction item, contact the center at 884-3456, or call Claudia Loy at 884-4169.

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