SOUTHINGTON — Michael Lambert usually wears a tuxedo to the Joe and Kay Calvanese Foundation Gala, but a fedora, black shirt, pocket square and faux cigar was a new look for him.
His 1920’s get-up matched the flapper dress, long necklace and red feather headpiece of his date, Jan Neri as they attended the gala on Saturday. Its theme this year was flappers and dappers and the dress code was creative black tie.
The formal gala at the Aqua Turf Club is the foundation’s primary fundraiser. Last year, the non-profit gave away $143,000 to town departments, schools, charitable organizations and nursing homes.
Guests bid on silent auction items donated by local businesses and on eight live auction items. They also could buy raffle tickets for a Jeep provided by Papa’s Dodge.
Lauren Forgione, a volunteer with the Calvanese Foundation, said about 350 people attended. Each year the foundation picks a theme for the gala. While last year was more somber with a focus on hope after the Newtown shooting, this year was more upbeat with it’s nod to “The Great Gatsby.”
“People had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “Everyone’s wearing boas.”
Lambert picked up his fedora from Connecticut Stage Supply in Plainville after he decided to get more creative than his usual tuxedo. Along with his faux cigar, Neri, chairwoman of the Main Street Community Foundation board, had a faux cigarette.
“If you’re going to do it, you have to go for it,” he said. “They’re getting some good themes.”
Lambert and Neri posed for photographs provided by Get the Picture studio of Prospect. Owners Michael and Josephine Perugini were busy snapping pictures of guests in front of a backdrop. Providing the photography at no charge was a way for the Calvanese Foundation to show appreciation to guests, Josephine Perugini said.
“This is a hit every year,” she said. “Everyone enjoys having their picture taken.”
The Peruginis have been shooting photography at the gala for more than a decade.
Stephanie Urillo, a Town Councilor, was decked out in jewelry by Margaret Palmer. Similar jewelry was donated to the gala and was for sale, along with small purses. Whenever someone bought an item of jewelry, they also got a Prohibition Martini served nearby
“It’s a good cause, it’s beautiful jewelry,” Urillo said.
Those who bought purses could look inside for a ticket, giving them a chance to win a case of wine or dinner at a local restaurant.
“One of these holds the winning ticket,” Urillo said.