BLACK TIE: Make a difference in 2019

Now that it’s 2019, it’s time to fill up your planner — or Google calendar — with upcoming events that are sure to make a difference in our communities.

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  • | 12:04 p.m. January 11, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Is saying something along the lines of “new year, new social calendar” too cliché?

If you’re anything like me, the dawn of another new year likely means you’ve spent too much time poring over your choices of a new 2019 planner on Amazon. Good for you — it will come in handy, because we’re gearing up for the spring season of black-tie events.

Over the next few months there will be parties, fundraisers, galas, luncheons and awards ceremonies, and we invite you to come alongside us in supporting the many organizations that are behind them.

I hope you’ve got that planner nearby, because it’s time to save the dates for a few of our favorite springtime events. Five of my can’t-miss picks will have you celebrating the arts, supporting music education, helping children beat cancer and honoring those who work tirelessly to make a difference in our communities.


1. Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Cheers To You!’

Raise your glass and join the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce in recognizing the community’s biggest contributors, achievements and leaders. To be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at Winter Park Garden Club at Mead Botanical Garden, the “Cheers To You!” ceremony includes recognition for 12 different awards. Among the awards are Ambassador of the Year, Chairman of the Year, Community Organization of the Year, Chamber Hero and Winter Park Champion of the Year. Others to be recognized include businesses small and large, a citizen of the year, an emerging leader and other community leaders, organizations and volunteers. For more information, visit 

2. West Orange Chamber of Commerce’s Big Orange Awards

One of the chamber’s signature events, the Big Orange Awards dinner and ceremony honors public servants, business owners and those who make West Orange County a great place to live. This year’s theme is “Under the Big Top,” and the event takes place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 1, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The 2018 Small Business of the Year and Big Business of the Year awards will be presented then, and seven more award winners will be recognized for their achievements. Winners are: Mike Bollhoefer, Chairman’s Award; Dennis Foltz, Sam Hovsepian Award; Chris Garcia, Ambassador of the Year; GeeGee Burmeister, Mary VanDeventer “The Spirit of West Orange” Award; Heichel Plumbing, George Bailey Award; Teresa Jacobs, Bert Roper Award; and Lynn Walker Wright, Danniel J. Petro “The Bright Future of West Orange” Award. For tickets and more information, visit

3. Garden Theatre’s Encore Celebration

Supporters of the Garden Theatre are in for a treat at this year’s benefit gala, as legendary Broadway icon and Tony Award-winner Chita Rivera is set to headline the annual Encore celebration. Mark your calendar for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, and reserve your seat to see Rivera perform and share behind-the-scenes stories from her career. Indulge in champagne, elegant dining and desserts as you are treated to an evening with the theatrical icon. Tickets range from $125 to $325. A limited number of VIP tickets start at $200 and include premium seating, as well as admission to a post-show party with Rivera. For tickets and more information, visit 

4. UCP’s Annual Evening at the Palace

Spend the evening with Cheryl Hines, Rachael Harris, RJ Mitte and Dan Aykroyd as you support UCP of Central Florida’s mission to make miracles for children with disabilities. UCP reaches more than 3,000 children across seven campuses in Central Florida, including in Orange County, by providing opportunities for support, education and therapy. This year’s special evening takes place from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace at Disney Springs. Honorees include Jackie Bailes Legacy Award winner Don Asher and Jack Holloway Star of Gratitude winners Richard and Michelle Lillard. For tickets and more information, visit 

5. Cannonball Kids’ Cancer Gold Gala

Now in its fourth year, the Cannonball Kids’ Cancer Gold Gala exists to help ensure that CKC’s mission of creating treatment options for children battling cancer lives on. From 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, you can be a part of furthering CKC’s mission. Enjoy food, drinks, entertainment and more as you voice your support for childhood-cancer warriors and survivors. Money raised during the event directly funds research grants, and the applicants for which are vetted for their approaches. The least-toxic treatments are given a chance, and quality-of-life options are created for children who have no other route to take. To stay up to date on event information — including venue — and to purchase tickets, visit

6. Orlando Cattle Baron’s Ball

The wild, wild west comes to Orlando each year when The American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball. This year’s event will be slightly more special, though, as it marks the 20th anniversary of the western-themed fundraising festivities. Put on your boots, jeans and flannel shirts and join the other cowboys and cowgirls from 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, at Rosen Shingle Creek. The night includes a silent auction, dinner, live auction and entertainment — all while raising funds for the fight against cancer. For more information, visit

7. HAPCO Wine and Dine for the Arts

Lack of funding for arts and music programs in schools has been a battle students and educators alike have faced in recent years, but the HAPCO Music Foundation is a ray of hope for local programs. HAPCO hosts and funds programs that help youth use and hone their talents, encouraging them to follow their passions and even take them to the professional level. Grab a ticket and join HAPCO supporters in wining and dining for the arts from 5 to 8:30 pm Saturday, April 27, at Oakland Town Center. Tickets cost $75 after Jan. 12 and can be purchased at 

8. Winter Park Paint Out Garden Party

The arts are a big deal in Winter Park, so why not cap off the annual Winter Park Paint Out with a garden party?  Winter Park Paint Out “includes free art education for underserved students and an emerging artist program to mentor an up-and-comer in the genre of plein air,” according to the event’s website. Plan to be part of this year’s soiree at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. A celebratory end to Paint Out, this event allows guests to meet the artists, purchase their work and see the entire exhibition of more than 200 paintings while enjoying good food and the company of friends. For more information, visit 


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