Lillian Vasquez at the Head Dress Ball
The evening gala celebration will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. sponsored by the Signature Club. Tickets for the evening black-tie performance are $150 per person. The tables seat 10 for the evening dinner performance.This year’s theme “Life’s Highway: Route 66” will feature a theatrical production that incorporates 10 beautiful headdresses that represent the towns made famous by Bobby Troupe’s popular song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” Coincidentally, the Assistance League of San Bernardino is in its 66th year as a chartered member of the National Assistance League providing 66 years of service to the community.
The show will focus on the Burroughs Family, a real life family from the Assistance League who will represent “every family who is in search of a better life.” The show will begin in Chicago and end fittingly in San Bernardino. In addition to the location references, each headdress will incorporate classic car elements. Real cars will be displayed around the room as décor and representations from the cities and decades that are so much a part of route 66.
Car owners Paul and Marge Owens of Loma Linda will be bringing their 1958 Chevy Bel Air and Lance and Stephanie Wilson of San Bernardino will showcase their 1929 Ford and 1931 Ford touring cars. Alice and Andy Martinez of San Bernardino will be displaying their 1941 Chevy Coupe, Curt Van Hoesen will loan his 1958 Edsel Citation, Jim Portillo of Riverside will contribute his 1949 low-rider Mercury with flames and after an exhaustive search Bill Carey will provide the much sought after 1958 pink Cadillac, Scott Simenton will supply his 1948 Chevy and Crest Chevrolet will provide a 2013 black corvette.
The presentation of the headdresses is a 52 year-old tradition that has grown more elaborate every year. Community patrons agree to sponsor these magnificent designer creations with all of the proceeds going to charity. The headdresses can weigh 10-50 lbs and can stand at a height of 10-20’ before being placed on a model’s head. The headdresses are designed by local florists and artisans and they must be carefully balanced so they are wearable.
This year’s designers include: Martin Flores from Inland Valley Floral, Derrick Vasquez from the National Orange Show, Judy Coates from O’Flanary’s, Paula Bailey with Enchanted Attic, Pam Null, AIFD, Albert Villegas, AIFD, Randy Davis, Carrie Schmidt, Ed Mendoza, and 2 new designers Gary Longoria and Vincent Dominguez who will be making their debut designing the pink Cadillac for a model who is in a wheelchair.
This year’s Ball Chairs are Carol Burroughs (Highland), Elsa Carlton (Highland), Carol Dixon-Cahill (Redlands), and Bobbi Simenton (Highland.) According to Simenton, “It is such a privilege to Chair this incredible event. The hard work of over 100 volunteers shows the commitment of the community to take care of the children of San Bernardino.”
According to Carol Dixon-Cahill, “Our theme this year really says it all. San Bernardino is proud of its ties to Route 66 and our production will feature some of the best that the theme has to offer including classic cars, a 50’s diner, roller-skating waitresses, and a real sense of fun.” Carol Burroughs is proud to be a part of this year’s production and will be wearing 2 really big hats. “My role as a Ball Chair incorporates the behind the scenes organization that is essential to a fund raiser of this magnitude, and in front of the audience my family of 6 (husband Dan, daughters Ashley and Ally and sons Daniel and Luke) will really have our work cut out for us portraying “every family.” We start in the 30’s and through costume changes will return to represent families of the 50’s, the 60’s and finally current day. I like the family ties since that is what the Assistance League is all about. Taking care of children, taking care of families and making San Bernardino a better place for our community.” Elsa Carlton says, “This year’s Ball will be one of our most spectacular. The uniqueness of this concept transcends time and it’s been a success for over 50 years not to mention that the Assistance League itself has been around for 66 years. When I realized it was our 66th year as an organization it gave me goose bumps.”
This year’s headdress models will include Assistance League members: Margie Arnett (San Bernardino) Susan Daniels (San Bernardino) Mary Massaso (Fontana), Sherry Lopez (Highland), and Carol Burroughs (Highland.) Representing Les Confreres, an auxiliary organization of the Assistance League is LaVon Nolan (Redlands) a 32 year member who will be showing off her new motorized wheel chair as she zooms around on stage in her pink Cadillac number. Special guest models who will be representing community interests include: Highland’s Mayor Pro-tem Penny Lilburn, representing the Highland Senior Center, Dr. Margaret Hill representing the San Bernardino City Schools whom the Assistance League serves, Gloria Macius Harrison who will take a bow for the Coalition of Inland Empire Latino Organizations and Nana Allen who represents Bonne Mere of Redlands.
The choreographers will include Jasmine Delgado, Sylvia Santos, Randy Davis, Tina Chase, Danielle Hilder, Maria Lockhart, Roland Juarez, Carol Dixon-Cahill, and Lindsay VanDyke.
The models who wear the headdresses are generally chosen based on their contributions to the Assistance League organization and their community service. The members with the strongest service records are honored by the membership by being given the opportunity to model a headdress. Since last year, this honor has extended to community representatives as well. The models then commit to rehearsal schedules that last for 10-12 weeks as they practice wearing tightly cinched corsets that brace the headdresses and distribute the weight primarily on their hips. A model must learn to balance the headdress while dancing in a fully produced number.
All proceeds from the matinee and the evening performances will go to benefit the children of San Bernardino through the support and funding of the Earl R. Crane Children’s Dental Health Center and Operation School Bell, a program that provides clothing for needy children. Last year the Ball raised over $100,000. This year the organization is hoping to achieve a similar goal. For more information on sponsorships or to purchase tickets contact Elsa Carlton at (909) 792-8460 or send your reservations to 3344 Parkside Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92404. Make checks payable to the Assistance League of San Bernardino.