Headdress Ball raises more than $500,000 dollars for AIDS charity

By : Susan Clary
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Orlando – Glitzy costumes, circus acts, colorful lasers and nonstop entertainment were the highlights of the 2013 Headdress Ball, which drew 1,000 people to the Hilton Orlando to raise money for the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, Inc.

And raise money they did – more than $500,000 this year, which set a new record. In black ties and gowns, some donning masks for the masquerade theme, attendees on Oct. 26 opened their wallets and gave money for tickets at $300 a pop, live and silent auctions and dancers who accepted $5, $10 and $20 bills in their g-strings.

“Everybody had a very, very good time and that was reflected in the amount of money we raised,” said Chris Hessler, event manager for Hope and Help, which provides medical assistance and support for people with HIV/AIDS. “The headdress entries were spectacular.”

Seven local businesses entered the main headdress competition. Attendees paid $1 a vote to choose the crowd favorite. The People’s Choice Award went to Savoy for its futuristic 2080 Intergalactic Lord from the Isle of Savoy, with a feathered harness, extravagant cloak and mirrored mask.

The winner of this year’s judged competition was the Parliament House’s breathtaking smiling skeleton with black flowing see-through gown, reminiscent of Day of the Dead or Tim Burton. Like a large puppet, its carrier moved the skeleton arms with two large poles and both were dressed in black pirate hats. Parliament House’s headdress was the tallest entry by far.

The second place trophy went to Winfield Murdock Creative Works for a Renaissance-themed European opera house combined with the Wandering Palazzos of Venice. The third place trophy was awarded to Heirloom Cutting Boards, whose headdress had a carousel theme.

The Chuck Hummer Visionary Awards were given to Aerial Rigging and LMG, vendors who donated the ceiling rigging and video screens and equipment.

The event chair this year was Michelle Damon, wife of former Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder Johnny Damon. Johnny Damon, a graduate of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, has played for a half dozen teams including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pink Sneakers Productions in Apopka was on hand at Headdress Ball to film the couple for a new VH1 reality show titled Johnny Damonâ’s Home Plate. No word yet on when it will air.

Next year’s fundraiser will mark the 25th anniversary of Headdress Ball and is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. In an effort to make room for more people, organizers hope to reorganize the Hilton ballroom to accommodate additional tables. This year, the event sold out on Saturday and people were turned away at the door.

“Next year’s celebration will have a montage of the history of headdress, which started with florists and hair stylists,” Hessler said. “So, we want to open it up to anyone who wants to attend, and drag people out of retirement to participate to show just how much we have been able to accomplish.”

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