Friday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Mayor’s Gala, hosted by Surrey mayor Diane Watts as a fundraiser for the Firefighters Association.

The ball was a black-tie event, with approximately 650 of the city’s elite in attendance. After all, it cost guests $1,000 a seat to go, so you knew you were among business royalty.

You also knew that it had to be a spectacular evening.

And it was.

Held in an abandoned shopping mall that had ceased construction several years ago due to a lack of funding, the space was decorated with Andy Warhol-like prints and living statues covered in body paint. An open bar served cosmos and an assortment of colourful cocktails, while dozens of chandeliers lit the space, and men in uniform sold tiny gold boxes at $100 a piece for the chance to win a $10,000 diamond ring.

Dinner began at 7 p.m., although I’m pretty sure the main course wasn’t served until 9 p.m. So for a couple of hours, diners were entertained by emcee Mark Madryga, host Diane Watts and the world’s fastest painter, Dan Dunn.

I didn’t recognize his name at first, but I knew who he was as soon as he began to paint what seemed to be an abstract doodle. But in about the time it took to play one-and-a-half songs, he spun his canvas around, and the accurately-detailed face of Elvis was clearly visible. His second painting was a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, done in Warhol colours.

After the filet mignon, we were each served a plate with several dessert samplings, most of which involved sparkles of some kind. And while I enjoyed something very chocolaty while just a little too much gusto, the Canadian Tenors performed.

It was certainly a night to remember, and maybe one day, if that mall is ever completed, I can walk through the shops while telling my grandchildren that the floor where we’re shopping once hosted the most unbelievably extravagant party I had ever been to.

I also hope that I’ll be able to tell them that I was invited back the year after…

But despite the frivolities and perks of it all, the best part of the evening was that everything, from the open bar to the VIP RiverRock show tickets, was donated, so that every penny raised went to the Firefighters Association, which supports over 80 local charities and organizations.

So assuming that there were 650 people there, I’m sure that close to three-quarters of a million dollars was raised for Surrey that night.

That has the power to do a lot of good.


This weekend was my last pageant as a B.C. Ambassador: in seven days I will be passing on my crown and banner to another deserving individual.

On Friday, I travelled to Penticton with the newly crowned White Rock youth ambassadors and Miss White Rock 2010/2011, my sister, @ChloeWoodin.

My mom chaperoned us, and we met up with my other two ambassadors in the city of peaches and beaches.

The gala was lovely, and the 14 Miss Penticton candidates all did a great job. As usual, the visiting royalty had the opportunity to bring their greetings on stage.

Saturday morning we rode in the Peachfest parade, and spent the afternoon mini-golfing and go-karting before attending the royalty ball that evening.

This weekend was special not only because my sister and I both got to go to a pageant together as sparkleheads, but also because the Penticton pageant was my first out-of-town experience as Miss White Rock 2008, and my last as a B.C. Ambassador.

It has been a full two years, coming full circle. And although I will miss being an ambassador, I am looking forward to temporarily retiring from the public eye.

Final stop, Merritt on Wednesday, the beginning of the end.

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