In only a few years, Hospice of Southern Illinois’ annual Red Carpet Gala has become a staple. Hundreds of people turn out each year to support the organization, enjoy an evening out and discover the hidden talents of local officials and business leaders.
“The Red Carpet Gala is our signature event,” explains Jennifer Vinyard, event coordinator for Hospice of Southern Illinois. “It’s a fun time where the community can come together to see different community leaders and business people come out and put on different personas.”
Those performances, which in previous years have included Southern Illinois Miners manager Mike Pinto as the Godfather, Marion Mayor Bob Butler in a performance of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and local urologist Lawrence Hatchett as Tina Turner, are a highlight to the event.
“I direct the show and especially work with those who have never been on stage before to make sure they know how to do it, and that’s part of the draw,” Gail Van Ormer explains. Van Ormer serves as the creator, director, choreographer and general expert of the gala. “It’s just fun. These performers are people doing things that their family and friends never dreamed that they would do,” she says. “It works here because everyone knows everyone.”
It’s always an evening of surprises, and Van Ormer expects the 2014 event to be no different.
“I’m going to shake it up again,” she says. “Everything’s different this year. We’re doing a 1970s and ’80s show. We’re going to have the Village People, Cheech and Chong, Robert Palmer, Huey Lewis and the News and more. It should be an evening of nostalgic music that most of our audience will relate to. We’re encouraging everyone to wear their ’80s hairstyle and dress. It will be a phenomenal evening.”
Vinyard says the event, set for Jan. 25, is a full evening, which includes a live band before the show, along with cocktails and appetizers, a photo booth, a silent auction and an after-party and dance.