It’s all Black & White for Balance Tampa Bay’s Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor

By : Sophia Mackrides
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay is back, masks on and ready, for the Third Annual Masquerade Ball coming to the Ritz Ybor July 29.

Balance Tampa Bay’s first two Masquerade Balls —2015’s inaugural party that had hundreds of paper faces on parade and last year’s Summer Olympics-inspired Rio-themed bash— were some of the biggest celebrations in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason to think that this year will be any different.

For the third installment, Balance Tampa Bay has themed the event “Black & White” and are moving it from District 3, home to the previous two balls, to the Ritz Ybor. Proceeds raised from the event will go to benefit Empath Partners In Care (EPIC).

EPIC became one of the largest HIV/AIDS service providers in the state of Florida last year when St. Petersburg’s AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Tampa’s Francis House (the beneficiaries of the inaugural Masquerade Ball and Masquerade Ball: Rio, respectively) merged under the organization Empath Health, a non-profit network of care supporting those who are faced with life-changing illness in the Tampa Bay region.

Victoria Fortugno-Oliver, director of Hillsborough County Services at EPIC, participated in last year’s Masquerade Ball: Rio and will attend again this year.

“The Masquerade Ball is a lot of fun and it’s for a great cause,” Fortugno-Oliver says. ”It helps to bring awareness to the services available in the community.”

The dress code is “wear what you want, but we hope you’ll have on a mask,” according to Balance Tampa Bay’s website. In keeping with the theme, attendees are expected to wear either black, white or some combination of the two. Also, judging from the previous two balls, there is no such thing as “too formal.”

Masquerade Ball: Black & White, with the help of presenting sponsor Kroger Specialty Pharmacy and more than two dozen other sponsors, is hoping to break the bar set by last year’s Rio event.

“Last year we raised $30,000,” says Scott Klingmann, co-chair of the masquerade committee and a former president of Balance Tampa Bay. “This year our goal is to raise somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000. It’s all about giving back to the community.”

The event kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and will be complete with professional entertainers, amazing performers and hot tunes being played by global superstar DJ Toy Armanda, coming all the way from the Philippines.

Masquerade Ball: Black and White is a 21 and up only event and tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. This year there is a $250 Friends and Family sponsorship, which includes two tickets, VIP Reception and Valet parking. Tickets can be purchased at TampaMasquerade.com.

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