Ice on Ice
Annual soiree celebrates the season
The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa and Lauray's promise the seventh annual Ice on Ice benefit will dazzle party goers.
Seven is a lucky roll of the dice, which should bode well for the seventh annual Ice on Ice benefit on Dec. 4, but based on the event's past successes since its premiere in 2008 the organizers have little to worry about.
“It gets bigger and bigger each year,” said Betsy Atkins, events director for The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the glittering gala in the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa's Ballroom which as always will be transformed into an “ice palace” filled with diamonds from Lauray's The Diamond Center.
“We haven't had one yet that didn't sell out,” she said, noting tickets are on sale now and “they will go quick” since there will only be 400 issued.
Tickets are $32 per person which includes entrance to the event, featuring lots of free food and music, and one signature martini drink with each one containing a shiny and potentially profitable little extra hidden in the drink's ice cubes.
Lauray's is providing 800 cubic zirconias and four half-carat diamonds, approximately 5mm in diameter, which will be distributed among the drinks. The diamonds could range in worth from $1,000 to $1,500 or even $2,000 retail, depending on the cut and quality of the diamond, Mark Fleischner, owner of Lauray's, said.
He noted Lauray's will have staff members on hand to evaluate and appraise the stones to determine what people have won and what they might be worth.
“Some of the women walk up with the stones in their mouths,” he said. “It's a lot of fun.”
Asked if they ever had any mishaps, Fleischner said they did have one time, about two years ago, where they came up one stone short. “I don't know if someone accidentally swallowed it or just didn't want it and tossed it,” he said. “That was the only time I can remember. ”
Additional signature drinks and chances to win can be purchased for $8 each and “you can have as many as you want,” Atkins said. “Some people have several.”
Which is why the Arlington also offers a package deal which includes the price of admission and a room for the night at the hotel. “It's the Take the Elevator Home package,” she said. “It's to discourage anyone from drinking and driving.”
Entertainment will once again be provided by the Larry Womack Band, which Atkins noted plays jazz and blues and “pretty much anything anyone wants to hear” as the evening progresses.
“They're a great band,” Fleischner said. “Everyone really enjoys them.”
The Arlington and general manager Bob Martorana “really puts on the dog,” he said, noting they will have “marvelous hors d'oeuvres” and there will be a cash bar providing any other libations someone might desire.
“We give a lot but they give more,” he said. “They do an incredible job.”
Atkins said there will be four food stations with spectacular ice
sculptures at each station and they will be selling the ice blocks to interested sponsors for $450. Local businesses can have their company or business logo incorporated into the sculpture. “They are really fantastic,” she said.
Fleischner said the whole “Ice on Ice” concept was first presented to him by Jackie Arrison, former chief operating officer for the chamber, and a disc jockey at KLAZ who had done something similar with a radio station he was at in Florida.
“They told me about it and I thought `This rocks!',” he said. “Pardon the pun.”
Fleischner speculated the event has been so popular because “it's the first big party of the holiday season,” noting, “Everyone is in really good spirits. It's just a great night for everyone.”
Proceeds from this year's event will go to help the Project Hope Food Bank which Fleischner noted he became aware of through Matt Fuller, chef/owner of Central Park Fusion Cuisine, who had helped organize another fundraising event for the charity with Lauray's.
The food bank provides food to Jackson House and Potter's Clay and other organizations in the city and area.
“Every year we try to find a really good cause and right now it seems there are a lot of hungry people,” he said.
“I've seen a lot more people on the streets of Hot Springs than I ever have before. It's incredibly sad.”
He noted last year's event which benefited Our Promise cancer research was one of their most successful.
Previous events have benefited First Step School, Ouachita Children's Center, the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic, and many others, Atkins said, noting they choose from the non-profit members of the Chamber.
She said they make a point to choose a different beneficiary each year and noted, “This is the first year we've had nonprofits asking us about it. In coming years, we may have to use an application process.”
The event is limited to 400 people because the ballroom “can only hold so many people,” Fleischner said. “We've considered moving it to a bigger room, but I worry you would lose the ambience the ballroom offers.”
The event is formal, but Fleischner stressed that could mean anywhere from suit and tie or just a sports coat to people wearing tuxedos. “Some people really go all out,” he said.
“I think it speaks to a different audience,” Atkins said. “We set out to make the tickets affordable. We didn't want to out-price ourselves. It brings in a younger audience than some other galas.”
She said it offers the opportunity for couples to enjoy a night of “good food, drinks and fun and you have the chance to win a diamond, too.”
Tickets can be purchased from the Chamber at www. hotspringschamber.com or at Lauray's, located downtown at 402 Central Ave.