Royals Masquerade Ball assists homeless, veterans

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Masked and costumed ladies and gentlemen, dancing and entertainment, all to benefit area homeless persons — this was the fourth annual Royals Masquerade Ball staged by The Middle Eastern Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 21. 

More than 200 attendees engaged in a festive takeover of courtyard and gathering areas of downtown San Diego’s Horton Grand Hotel, each partygoer bringing a $10 gift card that would be given to a homeless local senior or military veteran for such necessities as food and clothing. 

Masked and costumed ladies and gentlemen, dancing and entertainment, all to benefit area homeless persons — this was the fourth annual Royals Masquerade Ball staged by The Middle Eastern Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 21. 

More than 200 attendees engaged in a festive takeover of courtyard and gathering areas of downtown San Diego’s Horton Grand Hotel, each partygoer bringing a $10 gift card that would be given to a homeless local senior or military veteran for such necessities as food and clothing. 

The three-hour evening featured elaborate costumes evocative of such characters as court jesters, French royal court attendants and American Colonial officials.

Jessica Kalasho, CEO of the Middle Eastern Chamber, described inspiration for this fundraising event, “We wanted everyone to have fun and meet new people in a festive environment, carefree and happy. And we wanted everyone to feel royal.” 

Jessica’s husband, El Cajon Councilmember Ben Kalasho, also founder and president of the Middle Eastern Chamber, served with his wife in hosting the formal-dress ball.

The first masquerade balls incorporated toy drives. Last year’s was the fourth targeted to help local homeless persons. Jessica Kalasho continued, “Downtown San Diego has had problems with assisting the homeless, and East County is experiencing this more now too. But it’s been difficult to know how to help in the right way when approached by a homeless person. We thought of gift cards for food and clothes to make sure that we are helping.”

Miss Middle East USA 2017 Parand Biravand was there, graciously greeting partygoers and posing for photos. Biravand recounted that this was her second important appearance assisting charities. “This is a great cause, helping the homeless,” she stated. “This is absolutely wonderful that people can come together for such a great event.”

A dance-floor DJ cued up music inviting attendees to get moving. Breakout intermissions from the dancing included a stunning contortionist performance, pop singing, and prizes awarded for best masks and best costumes. 

Another unique experience at the event offered pourings of specialty cocktails made with Koo Koo liqueur, which bills its spirits as “the world’s number one dark chocolate liqueur.” The Koo Koo martini, enhanced with vodka and topped with shredded coconut, was delicious. And the liqueur chilled was a worthy dessert on its own, even though it was further recommended for pairing with ice cream. A personalized cotton candy station allowed dessert lovers to sample Jolly Ranchers candies spun into sweet strands and mixed with other candies.

The event has grown over its four years, according to Jessica Kalasho. Through ticket sales and donations, the ball brought in over $6,000 to benefit local homeless persons. 

“We bring our volunteers out when we distribute the gift cards,” she said. “Getting to know the homeless individually — and learning what went off track in their lives personally —is very rewarding. They tell us this definitely helps.”

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