By Taylor Wheeler
For one night only, it’s boll weevil meets the Bellagio in the City of Progress when the historic Rawls Hotel in downtown Enterprise transforms into America’s Playground–Las Vegas, baby—for the 15th Annual Rawls Ball benefitting the Save Our Strays (SOS) Animal Shelter. This year’s event, headlined “Welcome to Fabulous Rawls Vegas,” will be held on January 27th and tickets are currently available now. “In addition to showcasing and honoring this Enterprise landmark,” says LeeAnn Capps, Rawls Ball committee co-chair, “we hope to raise awareness and help the SOS Animal Shelter in their quest to find pets a lifelong, loving place to live.”
Preparations are currently underway to transport Rawls Ball guests from lower Alabama to the desert in Nevada. “It’s amazing the ideas the committee comes up,” says LeeAnn. “Each year gets bigger and better.” Like a mirage in the desert, iconic Las Vegas scenes will appear inside the Rawls—the foyers, bar, dining rooms, Regiment room and ballroom becoming the Little White Chapel, Paris, and casinos, complete with showgirls and maybe a Las Vegas celebrity or two. “There’s a great deal of work planning and putting on the Rawls Ball for the committee members,” says LeeAnn. “They not only put a lot of effort into the decorating theme, but they make those ideas come to life.”
The evening begins at 7pm with a cocktail hour followed by entertainment beginning 8pm. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served, with a menu fit for Caesar’s Palace devised and prepared by Rawls chef Bill Schleusner. “He goes above and beyond to make sure the food is good and looks great, too,” says LeeAnn. “He does a lot to make it fabulous.” Dress for men is either suit or tuxedo, and for women either cocktail or formal wear. “We have a wide mixture of people attending,” says LeeAnn, “from ages 21 to mid-70s, all there to support the animals and have a great time.” At last year’s event, some guests came dressed to match the 2017 theme of “Mad Hatter” by donning top hats and bow ties. Attendees may come solo, as a couple, or with an entourage worthy of the original Rat Pack.
The Rawls Ball was first started in 2003 as a way to celebrate the hotel’s 100th birthday and “to celebrate its role as a vital part of our community’s past and future,” says LeeAnn. Although beginning as a community event, the first Rawls Ball ended up being a charitable event as well, as ticket sales more than met expenses. “We thought, let’s find a charity that could use this,” says LeeAnn.
Because the inaugural Rawls Ball was such a success, it has turned into an annual charitable event entering its 15th year. The Rawls Ball first partnered with SOS Animal Shelter in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. “At that time, a lot of animals were displaced from their owners and were in shelters or being fostered out,” says LeeAnn. A committee volunteer suggested helping out the SOS Animal Shelter. “They had taken in dogs from Louisiana and were not getting extra money,” says LeeAnn. The partnership with SOS Animal Shelter worked well, with the shelter taking an active role in the event itself. “They helped promote the event, sold tickets, anything we needed or wanted, they helped out,” says LeeAnn. “They were very supportive.” Because of that successful partnership, the Rawls Ball committee chose to make SOS Animal Shelter their permanent charity of choice in 2008. Founded in 1981, SOS’s mission is to maintain a no-kill shelter and end the tragedy of pet overpopulation. They rescue and adopt neglected, abused and homeless dogs and cats.
The event is a tremendous boon to the SOS Animal Shelter as the annual Rawls Ball is their biggest fundraiser of the year, with the shelter netting $10,000 from each of the previous two balls. “Those months of hard work are worth it when you see everyone having fun, and knowing their support helps to make a difference,” said LeeAnn. “Everyone who attends touches the lives of those animals looking for a forever home. They provide help and hope to the animal shelter.”
Tickets for the 2018 Rawls Ball are $40 each and are available at: SOS Animal Shelter, Rawls Restaurant, Frogz, David’s Salon at WestGate, Yancey Parkers, White Oak Ale House, Banana’s, Just Shear Madness (Daleville), Century 21 in Enterprise, Consignment Cat, Shopaholic, and committee members. Guests must be 21 or older to attend, and no outside alcohol is allowed. For more information on the 15th Annual Rawls Ball, please visit their Facebook page, Rawls Ball 2018.