In perhaps its most literal celebration yet, The Birthday Party Project threw a Toy Town-themed blowout for its sixth anniversary, and supporters were more than ready to revisit their youth for a fun-filled evening. Raggedy Ann and Andy partied with Princess Peach and Mario for a night of nostalgia and giving, all in the name of raising funds for the Dallas-based nonprofit.
Co-chairs Lauren Heiler and Emily Clarke, food and beverage chairs Dana Blaugrund and Jennifer Harris, event production chair Jacqueline Hill, and event production and design chair Sidney Miller transformed The Bomb Factory into a sophisticated playground, with Beanie Baby centerpieces, a LEGO wall, and a spiral slide that made getting down from the balcony way more fun, with each ride costing only a $5 donation.
DJs Souljah and Julio Rivera got the crowd warmed up before the energetic Georgia Bridgewater Orchestra took the stage, drawing Care Bears, Power Rangers, Strawberry Shortcakes, piñatas, whoopee cushions, Barbie dolls, and Rubik's Cubes to the giant Twister dance floor.
Themed bites — think cheesy Mousetrap risotto — from The Joule, Hotel ZaZa, Five Sixty, Panini Bakery, and a host of catering companies (Food Glorious Food, Wolfgang Puck, Cassandra Fine Catering, Michael Owens, Proper Catering & Events, Farm to Market, and Sodexo) fueled the fun, while the VIP section enjoyed even more snacks. A Mr. Potato Head birthday cake greeted guests when they first arrived, and Candy Club, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and FunkyTown Donuts made sure there were always sweets within reach.
Gifts for the Good Life set up a pop-up shop, with TBPP swag available for purchase. As with the ticket sales, all funds went straight toward throwing birthday parties for homeless children across the country.
Live and silent auctions organized by auction chairs Amanda Albritton, Missy Rogers Peck, and Bailey Lloyd brought in even more donations, with the crowd bidding fast and high for such prizes as a 16-person luxury suite experience at a Dallas Mavericks game, dinners out at some of Dallas' finest restaurants, and trips to Aspen and Italy.
Rainbow Brite, aka TBPP founder and CEO Paige Chenault, honored Engage! Summits' Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce, along with past chairs Jamie and Brian O'Boyle, who have been contributing to The Birthday Party Project and its mission since its inception. Then the entire TBPP crew took the stage, holding aloft cupcakes and singing "When I Grow Up" from the musical Matilda before blowing out the candles and making a wish.
All told, the night raised more than $550,000. Founded in 2012 and now located in several cities, The Birthday Party Project brings joy to children living in homeless shelters throughout the U.S. through the magic of birthdays. Since its inception, The Birthday Party Project has celebrated over 4,500 birthdays for more than 30,000 children, with the help of 9,500 birthday enthusiasts.