The Garfield High School PTSA wants to get folks jazzed about its new, more inclusive major fundraiser, A Night on Bourbon Street.
For years the PTSA has held an annual gala event that brought in a substantial amount of funds the organization injected into various programs that support GHS students, including the Y-Scholars and College Access Now, AmeriCorps teacher aides, subsidizing yearbooks for low-income seniors, 15 additional hours for an athletic trainer and the student health center.
“There’s a lot of different programs at Garfield that the PTSA supports,” said Vivian Wilson with the PTSA.
But the perception has long been that a gala has negative connotations of privilege and exclusivity, she said.
A Night on Bourbon Street will replace the traditional gala and silent auction with a New Orleans-themed indoor street fair and parade, which Wilson is organizing with co-chair Corinne Crabs. The parade will be led by a second line brass band provided by nonprofit JazzED, with additional musical performances by the GHS jazz band.
There will still be a sit-down dinner and live and silent auction that follows a street market, the idea being to make sure everyone feels included in the event and supporting Garfield High School students.
“The hope is you’re having so much fun you feel included already,” Wilson said. “We want to treat everyone like a VIP.”
There are 1,750 students at Garfield High School, and 30 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches. Ten percent identify as homeless.
“We really want the population of the event to represent the population of Garfield, more so than they have in the past,” Wilson said.
Early bird tickets are available for $95 through Feb. 28 at ghscommunitynight.com, and then go up to $120. To make sure more people can attend, honor-system tickets are being offered from $60-$90. People can also make tax-deductible contributions toward tickets for others or just donate to the PTSA online.
A Night on Bourbon Street takes place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at Sodo Park, 3200 First Ave. S.
Those in attendance will get the sense that they’ve been transported to New Orleans, with people waving handkerchiefs, colorful umbrellas, and hanging everywhere will be painstakingly handcrafted strands of Czech glass beads for sale. Wilson purchased the beads out-of-pocket from Shipwreck Beads in Olympia, so all proceeds will go back to funding GHS programs and services.
“The idea is everyone who can buy a bead strand is now a donor,” she said. “We’re marketing them as keepsakes, and we don’t want any of our keepsakes to have a flaw.”
The goal is to create 500 strands of beads for A Night on Bourbon Street, which has been an ongoing crafting project for the event co-chairs and numerous volunteers.
“One strand takes an hour,” Crabs said, “so we’ve been hosting (work) parties for two months now on Sundays.”
Crabs and Wilson are excited to see the reception this new fundraising event receives from the community.
“We’d love to take this theme bigger and really make it a community event,” Crabs said.