KANSAS CITY, Missouri – When it comes to parties, more room equals more fun.
On Fat Tuesday, March 4, the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s annual Beads, Beans and Beer fundraiser went off without a hitch at its new location, the Don Bosco Senior Center. Because there was more space available, organizers said it was easily the biggest crowd the event has ever held. The event was previously held at the Askew Inn.
The festivities began at 5:30 p.m., with guests handed beads as they walked in and Mardi Gras masks waiting to be worn sitting on the tables. Before dinner was served, guests mingled over drinks and viewed the auction items. The silent auction included hotel packages and theater tickets while the live auction a Chamber membership for one year and Kansas City Royals tickets, among other prizes. During the evening, the Waldo Jazz Collective provided Mardi Gras music to go along with all the fun that took place.
The hall was decorated with purple and green, the colors of the Community Improvement District’s logo. Bobbi Baker-Hughes, director of the CID, said the theme was chosen to represent the new and fresh work the CID is doing.
“It’s doing a lot of good things along the Avenue,” Baker-Hughes said.
She also took advantage of dressing up in the theme’s colors, something she said she does every year.
The event raised funds for the Take Charge Leadership program hosted by the chamber. According to its website, the program is eight weeks long and teaches northeast businesses “about marketing, leadership, and other business aspects.” Vita Rogers, treasurer for the Historic NE Events and volunteer at the party, said the fundraiser took in about $3,225 from tickets, auction and the bar. Total, she said, about 100 people attended the event.
On the crowd sourcing website www.neighbor.ly/projects/takecharge, the Northeast Chamber of Commerce has already raised $15,170 of its goal of $20,000. Veda Rogers, with the Chamber, said it would take a few days to determine how much was raised from the party.
A number of the first time attendees ventured out because, they said, of friends or they worked for a sponsor. Tally Rivera, a guest of the evening and an employee of the sponsor UMB bank, said it was her first time attending the Mardi Gras party. She was looking forward to a number of auction items because, she said, she wanted to help the benefit.
“Parties like these are very beneficial because they bring people together from different organizations,” Rivera said. “The more people that come together, the more we help improve the northeast area.”
Manuel Becerra, of Overland Park and another first time Beads, Beans and Beer attendee, said he came out because his friend, Carolyn Munoz, lives in the northeast neighborhood. Munoz, who’s lived in the area since 1973, said she was excited about the food – which included jambalaya and dirty rice – and auction.
“It’s just always a good time,” Munoz said.
Haleigh Sternickle, office manager for the CID and volunteer during the evening, said events like the Mardi Gras party are beneficial to the community.
“People are able to come together in this fun, friendly setting and connect with people who they don’t usually connect with,” Sternickle said.