'A Night at the Oscars'

Daughter honors mother in Relay for Life's second Academy Awards fundraiser

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2009

Those itching to get gussied up this weekend are invited to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life's second annual Academy Awards fundraiser, "A Night at the Oscars," to start at 7:30 tonight at the Moose Lodge.

Candice Windom, an event coordinator and member of The Queen's Court Relay for Life team, is eager to see attendees in their Sunday best - semi-formal attire.

"How many chances does someone get to dress up and go out on the town in Juneau?" she asked. "Not really often. It's fun to see the lengths people go to. ... And they get to walk down the red carpet in all their glory. How could that not be fun?"

Tonight's event will include a showing of the Academy Awards on the big screen as well as "paparazzi" present to snap photos as guests enter on the red carpet. Windom said she may even feature some of the photos on the group's MySpace page: www.myspace.com/juneauoscarparty.

Furthermore, this year Windom and her helpers have added a new feature - souvenir 4-by-6-inch snapshots, which are available for $6.

"Since this is a fundraiser, we've decided to come up with other creative, fun ideas to raise more money," she said. "There will be an area set up with a backdrop, and ... you and your friends (can take home a photo) to remember the night."

For dinner, Windom said they have always catered the party themselves and this year is no different.

"One thing that I've always loved about our Oscar parties is the food," Windom said. "We name each dish after a title that has been nominated in that current year for an award. This year our menu is awesome, as usual."

The evening will offer a full three-course gourmet meal with an array of appetizers to snack on before dinner.

"We have several team members contributing to preparing the meal, and there will also be a wait staff to serve the food and bus the tables," Windom said.

The menu starts with a salad course and ends with dessert. Guests have a choice between either 1) "Revolutionary Road" salad," "Iron Man" prime rib," "Changeling" roasted potatoes and "Benjamin Button" mushrooms and green beans or 2) "Tropical Thunder" macadamia nut-encrusted halibut with cranberry chutney, "Slumdog Millionaire" saffron rice, "Frozen River" vegetable medley and "Frost/Nixon" dessert sampler trio with "The Duchess" sparkling punch and "The Dark Knight" coffee.

In addition to the extravagant meal, the event will award several door prizes, including a chocolate Oscar.

"Every guest will have the name of a category, and one of the nominees from that category at their seat," Windom explained. "If the person listed on their paper is called as the winner of that category, then the guest will win an Oscar."

Also, during commercial breaks, guests will be tested with movie trivia. Trivia-winning prizes for those 21 and older include bottles of wine (Francis Coppola), DVDs of past winners or nominees, books about movies, posters and more.

"(For) another chance to win, each guest will fill out a ballot upon arriving for the night's festivities," Windom said. "The person to successfully guess the most winners of each category will take home a prize!"

In describing the prizes, Windom also expressed her appreciation to those who contributed to the event.

"We'd like to thank the following for seeing our vision and helping us achieve it," Windom said.

Event contributors include Juneau Arts & Humanities Center, Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center, the Moose Lodge, Taku 105, Dennis Eagan with KINY, Alaska Native Sisterhood, Terry L. Thomas, Laurel Carlton, Loraine and Wilmer Derr, Monica Whitehead, Max Burnet, Dick and Peggy Garrison and Super Bear.

Windom also said she has received several donations of scrumptious desserts for the dessert auction.

"Guests should come prepared to bid on their favorite," she said. "In the past, this has been a very successful and popular option."

And if dinner, dessert, prizes and paparazzi wasn't enough, the evening also will include an Oscar gift bag to take home and Oscar paper dolls, for which participants are provided Oscar cut-outs and a wide variety of clothes and accessories to dress them in.

"This has been a fun time-filler during commercials in the past," Windom said. "So popular in fact, that no one wanted to give it up. It also gives you something to take home with you at the end."

According to Windom, "A Night at the Oscars" originally started as just a fun party that her mom, Kelly Windom, and her aunts, Virginia Waterhouse and Shelly Hohenthaner, put on for friends and family.

"My mom and her sisters loved movies," Windom said, "and this party was just another way to talk about them and have a great time doing it. Each year, 'A Night at the Oscars' got a little bigger and a little better than the last."

Unfortunately, Kelly Windom, 47, died on April 14, 2008, after approximately seven years of battling colon cancer. According to Windom, her mother had become actively involved in the Relay for Life and fundraiser just last year.

"Sadly, it was her last one," Windom said. "Her loved ones have decided to continue having the Oscar party as a way of honoring her."

Windom also said she named her relay team in her mother's memory.

"My mom had a nickname among her family and close friends, the 'Queen of All Things' is what we called her," Windom said. "She could do anything she set her mind to, and one thing she chose to do was this Oscar party. She loved organizing community events."

And Windom's relay team is just one of three that are planning the event. There also is the Dream Believers and Breakthrough Youth for a Cure.

"The three teams involved are all connected by its members to my mother," Windom said. "That is why we've come together in a joint effort to throw a fabulous event. Even if we sell only 20 tickets, this night will be a success to us, because this is what Kelly would have wanted."

Tickets for tonight's "A Night at the Oscars" are $30 per person or $50 for a couple and are available at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center or at the door. The doors open at 6 p.m.

Windom and her colleagues hope the event is successful in raising money for the Relay for Life as well as honoring cancer patients such as her mother.

"She gave so much to everyone she met, we feel now is the time for us to start giving back to her and others who suffer from cancer," Windom said of her mother. "And we hope to have many more!"

All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or kimberly.andree@juneauempire.com.

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