It’s a $205K happy ending for The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time

Partial proceeds from private school gala will provide financial assistance to deserving students

Whoever said life isn’t a fairytale obviously didn’t buy tickets for Saturday night’s signature fundraising gala for Ashbury College.

Some 330 guests attended this year’s Ashbury Ball, held in Rockcliffe Park at the 126-year-old private school.

Its fairytale mash-up theme of Once Upon a Time meant guests travelled the yellow brick road before jumping down the rabbit hole to an enchanted forest full of live music, high-end auction prizes and food from Creative Kosher Catering. Everyone dined in the school gymnasium, which moonlights once a year as a giant ballroom.

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With men in tuxedos and women in fancy ballgowns, there’s no saying who was the fairest of them all.  

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Guests sipped on Love Potion cocktail drinks, served out of beakers with dry-ice effect, and were poured champagne from above, by an aerial bartender.

Belting out tunes on stage during the reception was Isabella Nicole, a Grade 10 student at Ashbury College. She’s so good that a mandatory time-out from mingling should have been called, just to make sure everyone got to hear her sing.

Playing the roles that night of fairytale heroines and event co-chairs were Ashbury moms Jenny Shinder and Micheline Saikaley. The evening netted $205,000 to help with the school’s financial assistance programs and to renew and enhance its science and innovation spaces.

On hand was Ashbury’s head of school, Norman Southward, with his wife, Anna Rumin, who together helped to raise $3,000 by donating to the auction a dinner for eight in their home.

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Serving as emcee and auctioneer this year was well-known Ottawa radio personality and Ottawa Senators PA announcer ‘Stuntman’ Stu Schwartz, who’s also friends with Shinder and her husband, Jason Shinder, principal at District Realty.

The live auction raised more than $75,000 while the proceeds from silent auction added another $30,000, or thereabouts.

Auction items included a kitchen or bathroom renovations package from Astro Design Centre that sold for $10,000. A one-week holiday at a luxury condo in Turks and Caicos, donated by Steve and Krista Barban, pulled in $9,000 while a stay at Peter Nicholson‘s Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, Bahamas, brought in another $6,000. 

The always-popular embassy group dinner saw top bidders pay between $4,000 and $5,000 for an evening with Denmark’s Ambassador, Niels Boel Abrahamsen, and with Spanish Ambassador Enrique Ruiz Molero. A five-course Tuscan-themed dinner for 12 to be hosted by Claude Bonnet and Caroline Vecchio in their home earned $6,000 while a dinner for 10, with wine, in the private dining room of Riviera restaurant sold for $5,000 – higher than its suggested value of $3,000.

Four tickets to this weekend’s Grey Cup, donated by Gary Zed, went for $1,500 while diamond earrings from Howard Jewellers got snapped up for $3,500.

A trip to New York City to see the award-winning musical Come from Away, donated by iPolitics publisher James Baxter and his wife, Sarah Baxter, sold twice, to the top two highest bidders, raking in $10,000. 

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