Hurricane Party

Skylar Thomp­son and Cam­eron Ballantyne

The American Red Cross is holding its 26th annual Hurricane Party on Saturday, May 3, at the Beaumont Civic Center. Individual tickets are $125 each. Sponsorships start at $1,500 for a table of eight.

This year’s “Cocktails & Camo” party will begin at 6 p.m. and feature music by Casey Chesnutt and The Fla­va Band.

Guests are encouraged to wear their favorite camou­flage attire for an enjoyable evening with southern food including catfish, boudin, Cajun rice, salad bar and des­ert; live and silent auctions with items like women’s jew­elry, spa packages, a Carolina golf excursion and more; dancing, and cash bar.

The American Red Cross Hurricane Party is the largest annual fundraiser for both the American Red Cross Beau­mont and Orange County chapters. All funds raised support disaster relief servic­es and services for the armed forces in 11 counties served by both chapters.

“It helps raise awareness of what the Red Cross does in our communities,” said Cam­eron Ballantyne, executive director of the Beaumont and Orange chapters of the Amer­ican Red Cross. “Just to let people know that we are around every day of the year … assisting the fire depart­ments for residential house fires — we’re there to make sure the people are going to be taken care of that are affected. We provide shelter, help replace clothing, work with pharmacies to replace medications.”

The American Red Cross also works to prepare com­munities for disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.

“We make sure the com­munity is aware of what disasters might strike our area and what they can do today to prepare for the future,” Bal­lantyne said.

This year, Skylar Thomp­son, president of Market Bas­ket — $10,000 sponsor of this year’s Hurricane Party — will be honored at the event.

“Skylar has been a big sup­porter of the American Red Cross for a number of years,” Ballantyne said. “He has served on our board of direc­tors for a number of years and it was time to recognize him for everything he does for us and overall as a community leader.”

A Groves native and Beau­mont resident, Thompson said he is extremely grateful to be named honoree of the event.

“I’ve always held the Red Cross in high regard,” Thompson said. “They have done quite a few things for the community, particularly during disaster times. It’s quite an honor to be listed among a distinguished list of honorees.”

Thompson said he wit­nessed firsthand the need for the American Red Cross after Southeast Texas sustained enormous wind and flood damage during Hurricanes Rita and Ike.

“We lost power in all 34 stores during Rita for at least 24 hours, for multiple weeks in some areas,” Thompson said. “I was sleeping on a mattress on the baby food aisle in one of our grocery stores with a gun just worrying about looters. And after Ike, we went into the Bridge City store, and we had 30 inches of water at one point inside the store. As the water receded, everything that could float floated to the front door and lobby area. It was just unbelievable. You see on TV what happens during disasters, but until you live it, you really don’t know.”

Ballantyne said that dur­ing disasters like Rita and Ike, the Red Cross dispatch­es mobile volunteers to open shelters at various commu­nity groups out of harm’s way.

“We make sure they have a place to stay and that they have three meals a day,” he said. “We ensure they are able to just get back with their family and figure out what their next steps will be. At times we’ll help for longer terms or we recommend fam­ilies to other organizations that are able to meet their longer-term needs. Just trying to get people back to as nor­mal of a life as possible after a disaster is our main priori­ty.”

Ballantyne said that although the May 3 event will serve as a reminder to attend­ees that hurricane season is just around the corner and that they can count on the American Red Cross to be there when a disaster may hit, the main focus of the night will be to enjoy an evening of live entertainment, wonderful food and fellowship.

“There are very few galas you can go to and wear camo and jeans,” Ballantyne said. “It will be a lot of fun.”

For more information on how to purchase tickets for the event, call (409) 832- 1644. The Beaumont Civic Center Complex is at 701 Main St. in Beaumont.