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Frances Allen’s Desert Roundup — ‘Evening Under The Stars’ Is Season’s Splashy Finale

May is a bittersweet month in the Desert. It brings the curtain down on a variety of star-studded, fundraising galas … at least until next October, as half the Desert’s population heads out-of-town before the onset of daily, three-digit temperatures.

May also features the annual “Evening Under the Stars,” the Desert’s last top fundraiser of the season. Produced in aid of AIDS Assistance Program, a non-profit providing its low-income clients with monthly food vouchers that can be exchanged for nutritional support at local public supermarkets since 1991.

Held al fresco on a fairway of the super-exclusive and reclusive O’Donnell Golf Club in downtown Palm Springs, the nearly 1,500-guest event combines an extensive silent and live auction with a catered dinner and world-class entertainment.

Under the supervision of AIDS Assistance Program’s talented and well-connected CEO/Executive Director Mark Anton, the Evening Under the Stars gala has long been noted for the quality of its performances. For example, last year’s high-powered entertainment featured a concert by Cyndi Lauper performed before a black-tie attired crowd. This year, “disco” was the theme. Inspired by the book First Ladies Of Disco by James Arena, the performances celebrated the positive, uplifting spirit of disco while showcasing the women who sing it. Imagine, 10 disco queens performing live on the specially built stage—there was enough energy generated during the 90-minute concert to light up a small city.

No formal attire was needed this year. In keeping with the spirit of the event, guests wore colorful, open-to-the-waist blouses, pounds of bling and platform shoes … and these were just the men.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Desert gala without honorees, and Evening Under the Stars is no exception. James Houston and Harold Matzner shared a humanitarian award; Eisenhower Medical Center and Dr. John Stansell were acknowledged for their work in the area of HIV and AIDS; a community hero award went to Steve Kaufer; and, Joyce Shampeny was teemed with Rabbi Sally Olins for a community service award.
More information about AIDS Assistance Program and next year’s gala is available at 760-325-8481.

I’m not making a connection, explicitly, but which came first? The new Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rancho Mirage or the visit to Sunnylands by HRH of Monaco, Prince Albert, to participate in a conference on water issues and the environment?

Over the years—and we do mean years—readers of this column have been kept abreast of the numerous failed attempts to renovate and re-open a new, six-star luxury hotel on a parcel of land, (itself almost as large as the Monarch’s tiny principality), 200 feet above the Desert floor in Rancho Mirage.

Finally, with the softest of openings, a new, revived, ultra-chic Ritz-Carlton is open for business, assuring Prince Albert and everyone visiting the Desert will have the opportunity to experience the pleasures of a world-class, luxury hotel. However, don’t wait until October to make your booking. That’s when the Prince and entourage arrive and Rancho Mirage will be putting on the Ritz … again.

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