The pandemic has not been kind to the party planning business, as Ashley Dunn could tell you. The owner of Creative Party Bug in downtown Lowell didn’t have one party reserved during last week’s Girls Night Out. For comparison, she booked 53 parties during the 2019 event.
While Dunn has worked to diversify her in-store offerings to include gift baskets, fresh flowers and even table linens from the United Kingdom, it hasn’t been enough to compensate for the lack of revenue from lost parties.
“I’m really hoping to make it until Christmas,” Dunn says. After that, she expects to shut down her storefront on Main Street and work out of her home going forward.
However, before that happens, Dunn wants to go out with a bang. She has planned an elegant Masquerade Ball for this Friday, October 23, from 7-10pm. The event, which will be capped at 30 participants, will feature a 5-course meal, champagne toast, costume contest and a silent auction. At $100 per person, the event will be a night to remember, Dunn says, and 100% of the net proceeds will go to the Lowell Women’s Club scholarship fund.
Safe and Elegant Halloween Fun
Throughout the summer and fall, Dunn has brought a number of events to the community. Among other activities, she organized a Father’s Day Car Cruz, the Lowell’s Got Talent competition and Let’s Chalk About It, which had residents decorating sidewalks downtown.
Now, she is turning her sights to one of her favorite holidays. “I love Halloween, and nobody is having parties,” she explains.
To fill that gap, she is planning a Masquerade Ball in the former Lowell State Bank building at 218 E. Main Street. The ball is limited to 30 people to adhere to government guidelines for indoor events, and both costumes and face coverings are required for entrance.
“We’re going to make it exciting to wear a mask,” Dunn says. At the end of the evening, the winner of the costume contest will walk away with $20 gift cards to local businesses.
There will be music, appetizers and a meal catered by Main Street BBQ. With a champagne toast included as part of the event, attendees must be at least 21 years of age. Seating will be limited to two per table.
In addition to the meal, there will be 13 silent auction items, including tickets to the Civic Theater’s drive-in production of Dracula and other Halloween-themed goodies.
All Proceeds Go to Lowell Women’s Club Scholarship Fund
As with her past events, Dunn isn’t pocketing any cash from the evening. Instead, her ultimate goal is to help the community survive 2020 with good spirits intact. “Giving back is very important right now in this pandemic,” she says.
The Masquerade Ball is intended to provide a safe Halloween event while also raising money for local students. Dunn is donating 100% of the net proceeds to the Lowell Women’s Club scholarship fund. Each year, the Lowell Women’s Club mentors student members from Lowell High School and provides them with college scholarships.
As a member of the Lowell Women’s Club board, Dunn has watched as the club’s major fundraisers – the Fallasburg Arts Festival and Christmas Through Lowell – were cancelled. For her last hurrah with Creative Party Bug, she felt called to help fill the fundraising gap.
“This is probably my last party,” Dunn says. “My business is going out, and I want to do a good deed for the community.”
Thanks to the sponsorship of RiverView Flats, which is underwriting the cost of food, almost all money raised will go to the scholarship fund. What’s more, 13 other sponsors have stepped up to provide items for the silent auction. Dunn is hoping to raise $5,000 for scholarships through the event.
The money raised will help student members like Carissa Mitchell, who is planning to major in math and art when she starts college next year. Once she graduates, Mitchell will join the ranks of dozens of former Lowell Women’s Club student members who have gone on to careers in law enforcement, the military, health care, politics and more.
Tickets to the event can be purchased in advance at Creative Party Bug or at the door. Visit The Masquerade Ball Facebok event page for more details.
Editor’s note: The author of this story is the president of Lowell Women’s Club and assisting with the event.