Like so many other organizations have had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSO had to figure a way to present its most important annual fundraiser without being able to physically gather. Given Grapes & Escapes has a reputation for elaborate themes involving costumes such as the Roaring 20s or “Saturday Night Fever,” it added to the challenge for SSO executive director Lou Ross and his team and hosts John and Jill Landess.
“It’s a wonderful event people look forward to and we went ahead,” said Ross. “We’re trying to make it as fun as we possibly can.”
They picked up partners that influenced the theme. White Castle will contribute its signature slider burgers, while COhatch’s Market Bar has created a signature slushie drink. Participants will also get a bottle of wine, popcorn from The Peanut Shoppe, cookies from It’s Your Party and other treats.
Springfield Symphony Grapes and Escapes fundraiser will go virtual this year with the theme "Sips, Slushies & Sliders.'' CONTRIBUTED
Participants can get their packages on Jan. 30 from COhatch, where the rest of the program will be presented. Landess said despite the lack of costumes and such, there will still be interactive fun.
“It will be non-traditional while safe at home with wine and other fun things,” he said.
There will be live music, interactive trivia that will offer a chance to win prizes and some pre-recorded segments. Landess will also do a question-and-answer session with SSO conductor and music director Peter Stafford Wilson.
“It meant putting together a script and envisioning how it will all work on camera. The challenge was visualizing it,” Ross said. Rod Hatfield and Brian Traylor of Hatch New Media are helping the livestream from COhatch’s Exchange Room.
Landess shared another challenge was finding the escapes. With many hotels and resorts shut down or closed altogether, there were fewer options, but the team came up unique offerings, some that can be used through 2022, not just this year. Other unique experiences and items will be among 12 live auction and 15 silent auction items for bid during the program.
A complete list of the available items is on the SSO’s web page. Anyone wanting to participate in Grapes & Escapes can call the SSO office up until Friday, Jan. 29.
Raffle tickets are also available, one for $25 or three for $50.
The SSO team is working on future entertainment including virtual performances from its string section and jazz orchestra in February, and virtual shows in the spring months. Ross said there will also be outdoor events this coming summer and hopefully a return to regular full concert shows in fall 2021.