by Jessyca Cardinell
Gents and gals dressed in their best old western attire as St. James School presented its 14th annual Gala, “Outlaws and Angels: The Legendary Old West”. All with the purpose of having a wonderful evening out while raising money for the small Catholic school with a big heart.
“Thank you to everyone for coming out tonight to support our little school and its mission,” said Principal Clara Cummings as the night of eventful fun was in full swing.
St. James School's dimly lit gymnasium was set up to make one feel as though they had truly taken a step back in time. Tables were set with wooden slab centerpieces, accented with a cowboy boot adorned with a beautiful bouquet, antique oil lamps, glass bottles and candlelight. Many volunteers and St. James parents helped in setting up as did Elite Events by Lenny, whom donates the linens used and assisted the decorating crew with their expertise.
The bar was set up in a true saloon style with bartenders Pam Doty and Rachel Wainwright working hard to get everyone's drinks. The dessert bar was complete with Western decor including a saddle and wooden wagon wheels, it was full of decedent desserts many locals had made including Sweet Treats Up the Street by Stacy Canell. A table was also filled with appetizer items including jumbo shrimp, fruit, crackers and other snacks.
The Gala Gals (Bridgette LaPierre, Clara Cummings-St. James principal, Julie Wainwright-alumna, Laurel Bartholomew-St. James School secretary/parent volunteer, Brandy Parshley-parent volunteer, Dayna Leader-parent volunteer and Mary Elizabeth Friot, St. James second grade teacher) work very hard to make sure everything needed to make the Gala a success.
Countless hours and effort are put forth in this dedication. Mrs. LaPierre, Mrs. Cummings and Mrs. Wainwright have all served on the Gala committee since the first one 14 years ago.
As the Gala's features were all ready to go, Wendy Drake was set up for the Gala in the St. James School's library with her professional camera for the outlaws and angels who wanted nice photos taken-as a couple or with friends to capture the essence of the night.
DJ Pete Thuman of Watertown, and alumnus of St. James School, provided the music for the night and has done so for at least the last 11 years of the Gala.
A silent auction was set up with bid cards along the back wall broken up into four categories “Fool's Gold”, “Flake”, “Nugget” and “Mother Lode”. These items included many rustic handmade pieces and items donated by local businesses and community members. From home decor, gift baskets and toys, to gift certificates and even a set of Adirondack chairs with a small table.
Silver and gold Sheriff badges were available for purchase by Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Ashley Barr, FAITH group secretary Staci Hayden and Mandy Dake, upon entering the gymnasium. Each badge corresponded by number to a prize. These prizes included gift certificates for local businesses, jewelry, decorative items and few treasure chest keys for a chance to win a greater value prize.
Treasure chest keys were sold by the Gala Gals during the event which could possibly unlock one of the chests on the stage and reveal a prize. Once all the gold keys had been sold, participants lined up ready to test their luck and see if they could get their hands on one of the extravagant prizes.
The prizes available included a jewelry package from Brown's jewelry, $500 cash prize, 300 gallons of fuel oil from Bush Fuels, a romantic evening at the Clearview and dinner at Mullin's Restaurant, an Adirondack package, Elegant Evening Package, Queen for a Day package by Tangles Salon, $300 in gift certificates, Travel in Style luggage and $500 Cowboy Shopping Spree.
As people unlocked the treasure chests, St. James kindergarten teacher, Ashley Barr would play a tambourine letting everyone know there was a winner. Congratulations to everyone lucky enough to unlock those treasure chests! The winners are as follows: Betsy Cummings (300 gallons of fuel oil), Diane Monroe ($500 cash), Angela Ferrick ($300-plus in various local gift certificates), Kristy Kulp (Queen for a Day at Tangles), Josh Jaques (Elegant Evening Package), Diane Monroe (Jacuzzi Suite Romantic Evening), Charlene Mullin (Four-Piece Jewelry Package), Chuck Van Vleet (Adirondack Package), Amanda Newvine (Travel Luggage), Adam Davis (Cowboy Shopping Spree).
Katey Doty and Jessica Doty Allen worked as servers for the night. Nathan Whitton was also a server and organized high school students who volunteered their time to serve as well, filling water glasses and passing out hors d’oeuvres to those looking for a quick bite. The servers also passed out all the courses of dinner to everyone and cleaned up the tables as well.
The aroma of a delicious dinner filled the air, as a gourmet meal was being cooked to perfection by Joe Pistolesi Mr. Pistolesi had help from Melvin Rumble, Laurie Weekes, Natalie Towne, Mark Leonard, Laurie Leonard and Jennifer Link, a St. James parent. The servers brought out roasted red pepper soup, followed by chef's salad and rolls. The main course was Bermuda Triangle which included chicken cutlet, filet of beef, shrimp with hollandaise sauce, Utica greens and roasted carrots.
The live auction proved to bring in top dollar with its array of fantastic items, these items included, Fisher Price Ride On Power Wheels Dune Racer with helmets, Romantic Wine and Dine Package, Progressive inner Cruise for six at Sylvia Lake, Favorite Things Party Hosted by the Gala Gals, Handcrafted Reclaimed Pallet Coffee Table made by Joe Besaw, 14K yellow gold choker necklace valued at $2,750, Travis Tritt Concert Get Away, Circle of Friends Package, Vino Temp/Wine Bar and a Booze Cruise around Sylvia Lake.
This year's Gala raised $4,000 in Tuition Angels which is money that goes directly to support tuition assistance for families of St. James School which need a little help in making tuition payments.
A highlight of the night proved to be the hilariously fun Outlaws Beware! A new sheriff was in town, portrayed by Clara Cummings and Bridgette LaPierre with help from Brandy Parshley and Julie Wainwright, was ready to nab any gamblers, rustlers, bank robbers and anyone else who was caught breaking the law at the Gala.
The outlaws, who played along in good fun, were cuffed and stuffed into the small jail cell constructed by Dan Parshley and weren't allowed out until enough cash was collected from the attendees to pay off the defendant's bail.
First to be nabbed was Lori Pistolesi Wade for smuggling in a flask. Her bail was set at $100. Joe Laurenza was thrown in the slammer and his bail set at $200.
Next was Sister Gregory who was spotted by Mrs. Cummings not wearing the proper attire of cowgirl boots. Her bail was set at $300 and her arrest raised $414!
Next on the list of suspects was Father Shane Lynch, whose bail was set at $500 for impersonating a sheriff, resisting arrest and open container.
Last was Amber Ormasen, who was arrested for indecent exposure and her bail was set at $300. The bail money raised was close to $2,000.
As the dinner and auctions came to a close, the night continued on with a great time of drinks and dancing.
Fantastic job to everyone involved in this event, from volunteers and organizers to sponsors and local businesses who donate to this great cause. St. James School's mission is to “provide a quality Catholic education for students to grow spiritually, academically, socially and psychically, in partnership with families and in harmony with the specific gifts given by God to each student.”
Gouverneur Central High School volunteers include the following: Daniel Whitton, Emily Farrell, Sam Cushman, Erica Briggs, Jenneca Cook, Shayne Hays, Taylor Ormasen, Gracie Manning, Cassidy LaPierre, Corinne LaPierre, Grace Cummings, Bailey Soper, Mary Kate Wainright, Michaela Douglass, Noah Forsythe, Brittany Richardson, Ashley Toppin, Katie Andrews, Julia Erdman, Emily McGregor.
The 2017 Gala Sponsors were listed as follows:
Crown of Jewels – Judy Brown and Joe Laurenza, Tim and Diane Monroe.
Diamond – Blevins Ford Inc. and Team Blevins, LLC, Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association, RSI Roofing, Inc.
Gold – Case and Leader, LLP, Family of Anatolio (Tony and Quinta) Pistolesi, Weekes Insurance Agency.
Silver – Dr. Scott Day, Albert and Theresa Desormeaux, Friends of St. James, Family of Marianno and Maybelle Pistolesi.
Bronze – A Plus Auto Care, Inc., Firley, Moran, Freer & Eassa, CPA, P.C., Friends of St. James, KPH Healthcare Services, Inc., Lacy Realty, LLC -Penny Bogardus, Michael LaPierre PT -Gouverneur PT, Marlene Hajal Mouaikel, MD, Newvine's Auto Parts, NY Pizzeria, RJ Wood Real Estate, LLC, Richville Furniture -Ron Bovay Specialty Floors.
The treasure chest sponsors were BCS Landscaping, Brown's Jewelry and Friends of St. James, Bush Fuels, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Caruso, Clearview Motel, Lawrence Manor, Mr. and Mrs. C. Audet, Nicola's on Main & Grill, 211, other fine Lake Placid Businesses, Northern Collision, Tangles Salon and Day Spa, Touch of Grace and Nelson's Dry-cleaning & Tuxedo, various local vendors.