The ballroom of the Bella Vida senior center transformed into a royal palace during the annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner fundraiser Saturday.
Senior center staff, guests and volunteers gathered in their own unique royalty costumes to celebrate “A Knight of Royals,” the center’s biggest fundraiser of the year which was able to be held at the center facility for the first time since opening last year.
“Up until this year, all of the events were held somewhere else in the valley,” said Julie Sturgeon, co-chair of the fundraiser. “Now we can finally have our event in our own facility, so that’s what’s so exciting — it’s our inaugural event.”
Sturgeon added this is the largest fundraiser each year, which helps fund services and activities that are offered at the center.
“This event took 10 months to plan,” said Amanda Benson-Tilch, co-chair of the fundraiser. “It took many people to put this together, and we couldn’t have done it without the volunteers.”
Guests dressed up in their own royal costumes, which ranged from Disney princess costumes, to “Game of Thrones” characters to traditional European royalty. Each table was elaborately decorated according to the guests’ royal themes.
Other guests dressed up as vikings, jesters or wore Los Angeles Kings and Kansas City Royals jerseys.
The event featured celebrity waiters, who walk around trying to collect “scripts,” or pretend tips, from patrons. Waiters were able to collect tips by telling a joke, refilling water cups and tending to guest needs. The waiter who collected the most scripts was awarded the royal championship belt.
“It’s a very unique event,” said Jason Gibbs while wearing a Batman costume. “Supporting the senior center is a wonderful thing and it doesn’t get any better seeing everyone here with their costumes.” This was Gibbs’ first time as a waiter and decided to dress as “The Royal Dark Knight.”
Along with dinner, guests were also able to enjoy royal-themed cocktails and participate in a live auction for the chance to win certain prizes, such as the ability to use the Bella Vida center as a venue for their own special occasion.
“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Peggy Rasmussen, immediate past president of the SCV committee of aging, which oversees the center. “It’s such a lovely time and I can feel everyone’s excitement when I walk in the ballroom.”
Sturgeon said she already looks forward to next year’s fundraiser, which will begin to be planned in the very near future.