The Greatest Gala on Earth was a totally sold out event as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula presented their 29th Annual Auction & Gala.
For more than three decades thanks to a handful of people who were inspired to start the first Boys & Girls Club on the Kenai, the youth of the Peninsula have had a safe place to go and grow. On Nov. 12, the old Carr’s Mall was transformed into a venue that would have made Barnum & Baily jealous. Presented by Tesoro the event was also sponsored by City of Kenai, Soldotna and Seward, Central Peninsula Hospital, ConocoPhillips, United Way and 21st Century Community Learning Center.
In the midst of economic challenging times, the people of the Peninsula turned out to open their hearts and wallets to support the six clubs and teen centers from Homer to Seward.
“You would think that people would start reducing their giving in difficult times, but they do have to think about what is most important in their community and direct their giving accordingly. Obviously, seeing we equaled our record breaking year of last year, the Boys & Girls Clubs are recognized by our community from Nikiski to Seward as being an important service for helping young people to reach their full potential,” said Sen. Peter Micciche, past Boys & Girls Club president and auctioneer for the evening.
Much of the credit for the success of the galas over the years goes to Peter’s wife Erin, who along with her team transforms an abandoned grocery store into elegant ball room with a unique theme each year.
“You start thinking of something new and different that hasn’t been done before and before you know it the team gets together and makes something that is fun and fabulous. Every year we hear that this is the best one yet, which means we must be doing something right if they have forgotten about last year’s which was the best one yet, but I does raise the bar each year,” laughed Erin.
The gala sold out over 45 tables this year.
“A lot of people that are coming now are a mix of generations,” said Peter Micciche, “It used to be mostly older people who attended, the 40-somethings and above who wanted to support youth, but now we’re seeing a lot of young professionals in their 20s that have returned to the Kenai and remember that after school instead of going home to an empty house they went to a Boys & Girls Club to work on their studies, learn citizenship and have fun with friends. They are now coming home to support the next generation with the same life enhancing experience they had.
“Over 450 folks, a capacity crowd turned out and that is a testament that we don’t do this alone, but we have a great board, staff and sponsors, Erin’s team shows up every year and work their tails off for months to make this happen. Then folks come out and bid way more than what something is worth because they know it’s for the kids and many winners of the raffles and games end up donating what they win back to the clubs. It’s amazing to live and work in this community.”