BENNINGTON -- Named for the lights, movement, sound and music of the party, "Aurora" is celebrating 10 years. The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce is presenting Aurora as a mask party this year on Saturday, April 26, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the old Graphtek building, 186 North St.
"Winter was so long and so hard here. I think it's a great way to embrace spring," said Bennington Justice of the Peace Michele Hogan.
"The nice thing about this space is that the floors are clean and the walls are freshly painted," Hogan said. "I like warehouse space because you can do whatever you want with it."
The party was Hogan's brainchild in 2005 to raise money for Bennington Moosefest. Now, it serves as a fundraiser for the chamber. Hogan had the assistance of DJ Jim Woodward for the last nine years, however Woodward has stepped down due to health issues.
Hogan is at the forefront of putting on the party this year. Annually, she takes thousands of lights that belong to the chamber, and strings them up with her friends, who she calls the "party of eight." Hogan operates the party on a zero-dollar budget, and everyone works on a volunteer basis.
From 8:30 to 9 p.m., Andrea Malinowski of Zumba Fitness will be instructing a zumba dance. DJ RayIc will be supplying the music for the evening. For a small fee, Caroline Buckley and her friends are volunteering their time to do face-painted masks for those who did not bring a mask. Otherwise, people can come as they are.
Professional photographer Jaci Brillon will offer $10 candid camera photos. Also, Kevin's Sports Pub and Restaurant will have a cash bar of signature cocktails and beer. Half of the proceeds go directly to the chamber.
The dance party has a large draw from across the region. More than 300 people turned out last year, and Hogan anticipates even more. "We for years had a group of eight girls that came from New Jersey," Hogan said. "We have people come from Burlington, Boston, Albany and Pittsfield. It's word of mouth now after ten years. We have a couple classes that graduated from Mount Anthony that come back to meet at the party every year."
In addition to Kevin's and the chamber, the event sponsors include the Bennington Bookstore, Evan's News and the Beverage Den.
Tickets are $13 in advance or $15 at the door. More information is available by calling 802-447-3311, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Tom Momberg at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg