Monday, December 21, 2009

What is a Gala?

I'd like to hear what you have to say about this situation, and let me know what you think. I have my own opinions I'll share at the end, but would like your un-biased first.

According to my good friend Mr. Webster, the definition of "gala" is "a medium-sized apple with crisp yellowish-white sweet flesh and a red skin or a golden skin with red striping". Alright, that can't be the one I'm looking for. How about, "a festive celebration, especially a public entertainment marking a special occasion." Yes, that sounds more like it.

My high school, Bishop Fenwick, is currently in the process of planning their 50th Anniversary Gala, of which I am part of the committee. Due to a new working schedule, I haven't been able to make the meetings religiously, but have been contributing via e-mail and other conversations, and am partly responsible for finding a band, which was requested to have horns because it is said the horns give more of a "gala-type" feel.

Here are some preliminary talks:

-Date set for March 19th at Danversport Yacht Club (see my first post--where I got started)
-Open bar all night
-Cocktail hour with bottomless appetizers, during which band will play light music and we will have school choir come and sing a few songs, inviting former choir members to participate
-5 piece band, with horns
-(estimated) $150 per ticket
-(estimated) 550+ attendees
-black tie optional
-perhaps a silent auction
-chicken or prime rib option for dinner

I received an e-mail last week with a few concerns about this Gala event. This event ties into the Advancement goals of Fenwick, meaning they want it not only to be an event, but a fundraiser as well. A concern that has been brought up by members of the planning team is that this event, where price will be around $150, is too pricey, and therefore people may not end up donating either.

The newly proposed idea to save money and still have people donate: make it "glamorous" and hold it at Fenwick.

This is an event that the committee is hoping all age groups will attend. Personally, I know I will not be willing/able to spend $150 on a ticket to a "Gala" event (but I'm hoping that where I'm on the planning committee, my admission with be either withdrawn or discounted...) My friends have agreed as well, saying they'd love to go and see it, but $150 is just way too much.

Picture this: You're 15 years old, and getting ready to go to your first semi-formal dance, and, like at Fenwick and most high schools, it is being held in your school cafeteria for about $35 per ticket. What do you expect? Cheesy decorations? Crackers & cheese? Soda? A "hip" DJ that will play the Cotton Eyed Joe?

Now, picture this. You're 45 years old with two children and you hear about a "Gala" event being put on by your high school that you'd love to go to. You open up the invitation to see that it will be held in the same place your freshman and sophomore year dance was 30 years ago, but there is a catch--this time, the ticket price is roughly $100 instead. With this, you'll expect a band, grown-up dancing, full course dinner, and a full open bar, hopefully without those cheesy streamers and "Class of 19--" posters. Do we have resources for all of this at a high school? Will they be able to obtain a liquor license for the event? Will there even been room left for dancing if the same turnout is expected?

I would love to hear what your reaction would be. I think it's clear from this post that I'm not for it at all, and I believe it takes away all the thrill of a "Gala" event. Yes, a "gala" is defined as a special occasion, which this 50th Anniversary clearly is. But to celebrate it in a school cafeteria or gymnasium? Make me feel like wearing jeans as opposed to a nice dress.

I'm trying to gather some insight from others on this situation to bring to the meeting. All responses will be kept confidential. You can either post them here or e-mail me at

Eventfully Your's,


  1. A caf gala? All of this was great at 15, but by 18 I was through with caf dances. At the same time $150 seems a bit pricey, especially being a college grad with school loans. How about a happy medium gala? Reach out to your alum and have them put their post college knowledge to good use and let's come up with a better solution for all! Go Meg!

  2. Update! The Gala will still be held at the Yacht Club, officially. Ticket prices have been reduced to $95 from $150, which is still pricey but a significant improvement. More to come as I hear about it!