Troy Landreville, Langley Advance
Saturday night was all right for fundraising: an evening of music, food, and fun to benefit Langley Lodge.
Joanne Chiasson spent a good part of her Monday staring out at the ocean while relaxing at her cottage in Gibsons.
The downtime is well deserved after she played a major role in a fundraising gala, sponsored by Langley's four Rotary Clubs, that raised tens of thousands of dollars for Langley Lodge.
Langley Mardi Gras, an evening of fashion, food, auctions, and dancing on Saturday at Newlands Golf & Country Club, raised exceeded its $20,000 goal towards expansion and renovation of the Langley City seniors care facility.
"It went over amazingly well," Chiasson said. "There is an incredible amount of work that goes into this, and we had a great response. I thought it was very well done."
Emceed by senior meteorologist and Global TV personality Mark Madryga, the gala featured music by The Valley Voices Langley Lodge Choir and Joanne Chiasson and Company, a fashion show presented by Lynn Cris of Modella Fashion with dresses provided by Angelic Visions, and a live auction featuring auctioneer "Wild" Bill Henke.
Then guests flooded the Newlands floor and danced the rest of the night away.
"The music was over the top. It was more than they anticipated. People were dancing like crazy and didn't want to stop," Chiasson said. "We saved the best for last, and did a Mama Mia tribute. People were on the stage, singing with me. They surrounded the stage, dancing."
Chiasson sang, coordinated the fashion show, donated a $500 gift voucher from her business, and leading up the event, spent most of her spare time driving around to businesses, soliciting prizes and auction items.
Langley Lodge is dear to Chiasson's heart. Her late ex-husband Frank Langelaan, the father of her two oldest daughters, was one of the original contractors who built the lodge in the early 1970s. Early in the new year, Langley Lodge launched a fundraising campaign to raise $11 million towards construction of a new tower plus renovations.
Mardi Gras was a family affair for the Chiassons. Joanne's daughter Amanda joined her to sing together as Angelic Visions. More recently, Chiasson's youngest daughter Breanne, 17, stepped in, also offering to perform in this show as a tribute to her late sister.
Chiasson admitted she initially bowed out of her performing and organizing role with the Mardi Gras when her middle daughter Amy, 22, suddenly passed away six weeks ago. But after some thought and discussion with her other two daughters, they all agreed to do the event in Amy's honour.
"It was hugely emotional," Chiasson said. "I had a lot of support from family and friends."
Mardi Gras was a joint fundraising gala organized by Langley's four Rotary Clubs to help with the Lodge expansion, and the room at Newlands was teeming with guests, including City councillors and Mayor Peter Fassbender, MP Mark Warawa, and MLA Mary Polak.