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MONTREAL The Daffodil Ball turned the historic Windsor Station in Montreal into an Alice in Wonderland-inspired gala on April 26. In a subtle homage to the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic story, the 19th annual Canadian Cancer Society fund-raiser brought a surreal and upscale version of the tale to life.
“We wanted something very different from any of the themes we’ve done before,” said Alison Silcoff of Alison Silcoff Events, who produced the gala for the society. “The challenge for us was to make it sophisticated and not like a Disney version of Alice.” The gala attracted 700 guests and raised $1.67 million for the nonprofit.
Toronto event company Decor & More provided the decor of the event for the fourth year. “[Silcoff] was really adamant that if there’s an element of the story that we can incorporate, it was there,” said Leslee Bell, the design company's founder and chief creative officer. “If you knew the story intimately, you could see detail after detail in the layering.” Guests felt like a shrunken Alice as they walked through an oversize garden, helped themselves to champagne from the Queen of Hearts’ dress, and circled an intricate Mad Hatter's tea party vignette.
The table setting in the dining room equally as eye-catching. Decor & More created an eclectic, mismatched look with five different table styles, seven linen combinations, three styles of chairs, and four colours of chair cushions. Florist Yves Chénier created a variety of centrepieces to match. Starting with the invitation colours, Bell and her team worked from there, making tweaks to the settings along the way to ensure that nothing clashed. “It was not something we just went once and said, that was it,” Bell said.
While the gala went smoothly, it came with a number of challenges. Due to the recent student riots in Montreal, security was a big concern. “Security was a big challenge for this event, because we have a large number of the top C.E.O.s from across the country in that room. We certainly didn’t want to have anyone protesting in our event,” said Silcoff. Security personnel were stationed at all 25 entrances of the building. The historic building also came with restrictions—almost everything had to be fire-retardant and decor could only hang from certain beams on the ceiling.
The raffle raised a record $121,650 this year and a new silent auction brought in an additional $42,000.