Hospice gala gives area’s well-dressed a red-carpet night

Tuxedos and sequins are not commonly seen at Mesa County parties. Unless, of course, the partying happened Saturday night.

Inspired nearly one year ago by a small, black, three-dimensional chandelier, officials with Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado decided the theme of their annual Black Tie & Boots Gala in 2011 should be “glitz and glamour.”

“We wanted to go extreme,” said Christy Whitney, chief executive officer of Hospice.

Wearing “a drape-y, black thing,” Whitney joked that she normally gets ready in five minutes but took nearly 90 minutes to dress Saturday for the gala.

Joking aside, she said, the annual gala is the largest fundraising event planned for Hospice during 2011. An estimated $200,000 was expected to be gathered for use in different Hospice programs, such as its Child and Teen Grief Program and Hospice’s sister program in the African country of Tanzania.

The mission of Hospice, which is to help individuals and families facing serious illness or grief, is not at all glamorous or glitzy. However, the chance to party for a good cause prompted nearly 800 people dressed for the red carpet to pack Two Rivers Convention Center, which was transformed from a series of conference rooms into a large formal hall of white linen and sparkling, fake chandeliers. A faux city skyline greeted people at the front entrance to the gala.

Also greeting gala-goers were members of Hospice’s board of directors, including Janice Burtis and chairman Les Zetmeir.

Burtis used the party theme for this year as a good reason to get her hair done and pull out a spaghetti-strapped, sequined black dress that she had not worn in four years.

“It’s really the Texas Barbie dress,” Burtis said because she bought it in Texas.

Burtis paired the dress with black pumps and hose.

“I don’t have black tights on,” the tuxedo-clad Zetmeir joked, overhearing Burtis’ conversation.

No word yet on what the theme of next year’s gala will be, but Whitney said event organizers like to go from one extreme to the other, so prepare for the theme to be much different than “glitz and glamour.”


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