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A little sparkle for the symphony
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Supporters of the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra will have a chance to celebrate the arts in style on Feb. 2, when the GSO holds its annual ball and silent auction.

Dubbed Mardi Gras and All That Jazz, the event is the symphony’s major fundraiser for the year, bringing in 20 percent of its budget, accordng to Executive director Pam Slaton.

Tickets are $100 each, and $50 of that is tax deductible, Slaton said. The event, which takes place at the Chattahoochee Country Club, will also crown the symphony’s annual king and queen, Joe and Blair Diaz.

"It’s a lot of fun," said Blair Diaz, a Gainesville CPA who has served as treasurer of the GSO and served on its board of directors. While she left the board a couple years ago, she still stays active in the organization and supports its children’s programs.

"It’s a Mardi Gras theme, but while everyone is wearing tuxes and formal gowns, you also see the traditional Mardi Gras beads and masks," she said.

The evening includes music by the Dave Bass Quartet of Atlanta and a "bodacious Louisiana buffet," according to Slaton. That means a buffet of Cajun favorites, such as jambalaya and gumbo, along with a grits "martini" bar — plain grits served in a martini glass and a bevy of toppings to choose from.

There will also be a silent auction that includes a few trips and goodies from local merchants.

As the king, Blair Diaz said her husband will be leading the krewe, a group of "rabblerousers" who will go around to patrons encouraging silent auction bidding and rallying support for the symphony throughout the evening. There will also be beads — given out to everyone, not just the ladies — and people are encouraged to wear masks as well.

Diaz said the event is just one more way she can support the symphony.

"I’m so glad we have a community orchestra in town," she said. "My children are involved in town and it’s just so great to have the GSO here."