Big Band Era Inspires Mount Sinai's 55th Anniversary Ball

For it's 55th anniversary ball, Mount Sinai Hospital dressed the Fairmont Royal York in lavish gold decor, invited jazz singer Matt Dusk to perform, and hosted a silent auction featuring items signed by the likes of Michael Jordan and the Rolling Stones.

By Susan O'Neill April 30, 2008, 4:22 PM EDT

The silent-auction room

Photo: BizBash

Mount Sinai's "From Dusk Till Dawn" Auxiliary Ball
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Creating a new spin on an event that's been running for 55 years might sound daunting, but for Lisa Colt, director of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, choosing to honour the past was the logical choice for this year's event—entitled “From Dusk Till Dawn"—at the Fairmont Royal York on Tuesday.

“We are taking the event back to its roots—we're celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Mount Sinai Ball, so we're trying to take the event back to its original glory days with black-tie, first-class dining, and dancing,” said Colt, who worked with designer Sinclair Russell to create the theme for the evening. “We're trying to create that big-band, '40s-'50s feel,” she said. “Really, the theme is glamour.”

Russell dressed the third floor of the hotel with floral arrangements, draped fabric, and hundreds of sparkling gold butterflies. “We've taken over the whole floor,” Colt said. Tall boxwoods covered in butterflies set the scene in the reception area, the first of three spaces created through the use of draped white fabric, courtesy of Micki's, and archways made of greenery, which led guests to the silent auction. The hospital auxiliary used the Silent Auction Company to secure items like an NBA basketball signed by Michael Jordan, a red guitar autographed by the Rolling Stones, a hockey jersey signed by Wayne Gretzky, and the hat worn by Harrison Ford (which he signed) in the Indiana Jones films.

Mercedes-Benz, the evening's valet parking sponsor, displayed two vehicles on the hotel's third floor. “Oh, that was fun,” Colt said of the logistics involved in getting the cars into the hotel. “They came in through the loading dock [on Monday night],” she said, noting that the vehicles were then driven into place during the setup on Tuesday.  “It came together really fast,” she said of the load-in. However, organizers had to wait for a separate breakfast meeting to wrap up Tuesday morning before they could begin decorating the dining room.

Models dressed as footmen trumpeted guests into the hotel's Canadian Room for dinner, where sheer gold fabric embellished with sequins topped tables surrounded by gold Chiavari chairs. Tall gold candelabras, adorned with butterfly ornaments and orchids, served as centrepieces. Gold fabric, hung from the ceiling, concealed the walls, and the setup allowed for a small dance floor in front of the stage, set for a performance by Canadian jazz singer Matt Dusk and his band. “He is good friends with one of our volunteers,” Colt said of Dusk. “We asked him if he would like to be the headliner. He is the perfect genre [for the evening's theme].”

A group of 36 Grade 5 and 6 student dancers from Join the Dance Canada performed ballroom-dance routines once the 700 guests took their seats for dinner, catered by the hotel. Singer and impressionist Tom Stevens, who is currently performing at Harrah's in Las Vegas, performed 20 impressions during his 45-minute act, and Dusk performed following the meal.

Colt reported that proceeds from the event would enable the organization to complete its $3.5 million pledge to support the hospital's Healthy Babies program. “We'll net over $1 million. That was our goal,” she said. The auxiliary will now embark on a new campaign to raise $2 million to fund new information technology initiatives at the hospital.

Event sponsors included CIBC, RioCan, CTV, The Globe and Mail, the Printing House Ltd., Tribute Communities, First Capital, and Onex.

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