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May 31, 2023

Gatsby in Gilroy

In the tradition of the excessive parties thrown by Jay Gatsby—the character from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby—The Gilroy Foundation named its 27th annual dinner and auction, held on Oct 1, after that famous book and encouraged guests to indulge and give generously. The foundation has been raising funds for local charities and providing scholarships for local students since 1980.

At the Gilroy Lodge on the Hill on Hecker Pass, women arrived in beaded dresses—some with fringe, long capes, and sparkly headbands across their foreheads with feathers. Men donned assorted hats, along with suspenders, vests and wingtips.

Guests were greeted with tiny glass bottles of whisky, reminiscent of the Prohibition period, marked with their table and bidding number. The dining room contained elegant round tables covered in white tablecloths, with gold plates and chairs—many with centerpieces of tall, clear tubes holding floating candles and beads to reflect the light. Spotlighted arrangements of tall white ostrich feathers served as centerpieces for other tables. Fluffy white curtains amplified the romantic effect, backlit by a soft purple glow. The side of the dining room contained an elegant display of silent auction prizes ranging from local wines to sports and theater experiences, works by local artists and other local attractions.

Overlooking the Gilroy Golf Course and Eagle Ridge, the clear blue vistas from the patio of the lodge provided ample space for wine tasting and mingling, while servers offered appetizers of caviar and deviled eggs. Wineries, including Sarah’s Vineyard, Fernwood Cellars, Fortino Winery, Guglielmo Winery, and Solis Winery, offered a variety of selections from the local vineyards. Meanwhile, a no-host bar served drinks adjacent to the dining room.

Following a shrimp and crab cocktail, guests headed to the fine buffet provided by Dave Bozzo, including a prime rib carving station and plenty of vegetarian options, including stuffed portabella mushrooms, roasted vegetables, and thick red beefsteak tomatoes in a light vinaigrette. A rich cheesecake and coffee completed the meal for dessert.

After dinner, Don DeLorenzo served as auctioneer, this year raising $25,000 through the live auction alone. Many prizes for groups of friends set off raucous bidding wars, ranging from fondue dinners for up to eight people—which sold for $1900—and a cioppino dinner prepared by Bob Filice for a group of 10 friends. Bill Christopher and Ralph and Karen Titus donated a sports package of two prime seats to a San Francisco 49ers game, a San Jose Sharks game and a Golden State Warriors game, which also sold for a hefty price.

The grand prize for the evening was a raffle drawing for a four-night stay in a 1920s-style New York Hotel, the Algonquin, and a ferry ride to Long Island. A maximum of 100 tickets were sold at $100 each, and Greg and Jean Myers were the lucky winners.
The festivities continued following the auction, as guests were urged to stay and enjoy the event—as Jay Gatsby would insist—late into the evening hours.

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