3-18 web revised

March 2018 Vol. 19 No. 3

Key Largo Chamber 2018 Chairman’s Gala

Fast forward now to the day in January, at the Rotunda entrance to beautiful Playa Largo Resort and Spa and you see a bee hive of busy people doing preparations and arranging last minute details to bring about a complex event under the expert direction of our Gala Committee Chairman Marlen. So much to do and so little time left. It took weeks of planning with even a change of menu and of venue to contend with when it became apparent that the demand was going to far exceed the original planned space. The committee had worked tirelessly and diligently – Marlen, Mark Charles, the new Chamber Chairman Elect, Lisa Feliciano from Center State Bank, Luis Melendi from Melendi Photography, Elizabeth Moscynski, our Chamber President, and your humble correspondent. A friend later told me the amount of anticipation and excitement for the event was “something never seen before in our community.” The silent auction items were displayed. Many of the items were bought in Cuba by local artists. The colorful paintings from our beloved artist Carmen Sotolongo-Kelley adorning the rotunda. The artist also donated a picture to the Committee. The orchestras – Charanga Tipica Tropical and Carlos Oliva and the Judge’s Nephews, well known brand names in the Latin music world, each with great followings and a long list of musical

accomplishments – were setting up. The décor was superb and the tables immaculate, with even a whimsical jute bag with a miniature coke and rum, a lemon smartly placed in front. Marlen, was buying everyone a drink. People arrived, some played dominoes at the entrance and the rest headed to their assigned table. The music started playing, and then just like that the dream became real. The ambiance was fantastic. Most people were dancing when from a corner of the ballroom out it came – the “Hora Loca” Crazy Hour, a diminutive version of the old World Famous Cuban Carnivals. Lavishly dressed dancers, men on stilts women with brightly colored and silvered sequins and ruffles, over-the-top festive attire. Masks. All hearts racing, the sounds of drums and brass, laughter everywhere. This was an explosion of, color, music and joy. Oh what a night! I ended the evening as I should have, exhausted and not being able to feel my feet, but immensely happy that the event had been a huge success on many levels. Great fun and a financial blessing for some of our members and neighbors. Thank you Gala Committee, thank you sponsors, members and supporters, collaborators at large and to you my dear friend Marlen, my deepest gratitude. I will never be able to thank you enough… but wait, what is that I hear in the foggy and salty distance? Is that the faint sounds of drums and trumpets again? Could it be possible?

Photo by Luis Melendi, Melendi Photography.

It all began last year as a dream. When I became chairman, my Gala Event and Committee would be organized, orchestrated and chaired by my longtime friend Marlen Weeks, from Keys Parties/ Coastal Title & Closing Services. I had attended almost all her previous Havana Nights events and always had a great time and was consistently impressed by her professionalism and attention to detail. This Gala Event was prefaced by a very tragic event, a very sad extraordinary circumstance, Hurricane Irma. So when I confided to her what I was proposing, mainly that after expenses of the event proceeds would go to a Relief Fund to assist small businesses in our community impacted by Irma, she was on board with her typical passion and total commitment. Roberto Alonso Chairman of the Board Key Largo Chamber of Commerce

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