July 20, 2013 5:41:10 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
In the normal course of things, officers of the Columbus Police Department would just as soon not encounter masked citizens at night. But Friday, July 26 will be an exception. In fact, they encourage it.
The Police Department presents a masquerade ball Friday at Trotter Convention Center, beginning at 7 p.m. The semi-formal affair with live music, dinner and dancing will raise funds for two initiatives -- the department's local observance of the National Night Out on Crime Aug. 7, and its annual Christmas toy drive.
Patrol Officer Rhonda Sanders has helped organize the annual ball for about eight years. She and CPD Investigator Kevin McCrary spearhead a planning committee made up of community volunteers from each city ward.
"Every year we would try to do something a little different, but everybody wants to do the masquerade; everybody enjoys it," Sanders said of the popular theme. "We'll even have an artist there to face-paint a mask on you if you want, and we'll have a few masks for sale."
The evening will include entertainment by Logan the Entertainer. The performer based in Birmingham, Ala., grew up in West Point.
Two silent auctions -- one for Night Out on Crime and the toy drive, and one to benefit a medical fund for veteran CPD Investigator Kelvin Lee, who is battling cancer -- will include a wide variety of goods and services, including tickets to a Braves game.
Patrons will dine on Cornish hens prepared by Glenn Baldwin, dirty rice and sauteed mushrooms from Brian and Bubba Huckabee of Huck's Place, and more fare by Chef Tav of 12 Bar Lounge.
While the evening's focus will be on fun and fundraising, more subtle benefits are the links fostered between law enforcement and city government with the people they serve.
"It lets us know our public," Sanders said. "In a social setting we come together, we network and you learn about the people in your community. It brings us together."
It's never too early to think about the CPD's Christmas toy drive, Sanders said.
"We have about 300 kids ranging from 3 to 17 years old from throughout the city that are on our list; we try to get them the gift of a bike, if possible."
The drive also accepts new toys. They can be brought to the ball Friday, or can be dropped off at the Police Department at the Columbus Municipal Complex, 1501 Main St.
McCrary said, "I think we all have a responsibility to those in need, and I really believe we should try whatever we can to help each other out. Whenever you want to make a change in any area in the community, it takes a joint effort to come together for a cause and get on the same page."
How to go
Tickets for the ball are $20 in advance at the Police Department Monday through Thursday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., or in downtown Columbus at The Bride and Groom or the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Tickets at the door are $25.
A limited number of VIP tables for eight, at $185, were still available as of Thursday. For more information, contact Sanders at 662-251-7355 or McCrary at 662-364-1849.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.