Unpack the tux for party politics, New Year’s style

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer



If you go

Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Ball

• Who: Hosted by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, with live music featuring Sonny Hess, Lady Kat and the Smokin’ True Blue Band.

• Benefits: Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation’s “Everybody Plays” scholarship program.

• When: Dec. 31, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 West Sixth St.

• Cost: $95.

• Tickets:http://vancouvermayorevents.com.

Vancouver’s New Year’s Eve Gala

• Who: Hosted by Greater Clark County Rotary Foundation; former Mayor Royce Pollard will attend, featuring Arthur Murray Dancers and Patrick Lamb.

• Benefits: Greater Clark County Rotary Foundation, with a portion of net proceeds to support YWCA Clark County.

• When: Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 West Sixth St.

• Cost: $100 in advance, $125 at the door.

• Tickets:http://newyearseve-van­couverwa.org.

This New Year’s Eve, it’ll be a battle of the balls at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

The downtown spot will be the host of not one but two of the town’s biggest soirees.

And it’ll involve a bit of party politics: One, the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Ball, will be hosted by Mayor Tim Leavitt. The other, Vancouver’s New Year’s Eve Gala, will be hosted by the Rotary — and former Mayor Royce Pollard will be there.

Their relationship remains icy, but no one’s expecting a booze-fueled brawl in the convention center lobby when both events let out at 1 a.m. Both men said that they are instead looking forward to partying and raising money for charity.

“There is really no competition between the two events, as they are quite dissimilar to each other,” Leavitt wrote in an e-mail from vacation. “The Mayor’s NYE Bash includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, a live band (popular dance music), a silent auction, and entertainment by the Vancouver Mayor after midnight. I understand the Rotary function is a sit-down dinner and music by saxophonist Patrick Lamb. I anticipate two entirely different atmospheres.”

Pollard, for his part, said that he was asked to help raise funds for the Greater Clark County Rotary Foundation gala. He’s been promoting it on his Facebook page since at least September. (Full disclosure: The Columbian is a sponsor of the Rotary Gala).

“I’m not causing trouble,” he said. “They asked for my help. I don’t see it as a big deal.”

He did say that Rotary members approached Leavitt’s event’s organizers and asked about merging the festivities, which he said Leavitt’s camp declined.

“They tried to get a meeting with the mayor and his group, and tried to join together, which would have been a hell of a ball,” Pollard said. “It was too bad that whoever — I don’t know if it was the mayor or not, and it doesn’t make any difference — couldn’t come together.”

Pollard said he’s heard that some folks aren’t attending either event due to split allegiances. He’s also heard of a few people buying tickets (at $95 and $100 each) for both.

He added the Rotary will have the bigger ball, and that more than 400 tickets have sold.

But Lisa Goodrich, one of the organizers of Leavitt’s party, said that by the time Rotary had approached them about combining balls, they’d already signed contracts for their bands and the second ballroom.

“We didn’t want a 600-person event. Nor did we want a sit-down dinner,” Goodrich said. “There was a meeting, but Royce wasn’t there.”

The mayor’s smaller ball should sell out by the end of the weekend, she said.

She called the situation “a challenge, but one that we mastered.”

Both events have a history — Leavitt played host to an event at the Heathman in East Vancouver last year (and during which he and County Commissioner Steve Stuart reportedly delivered a heart-felt Rock Band video game performance of Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero,” with Leavitt on vocals).

The Rotary gala has been held at the Hilton for most of the last several years, but was not held last year due to lack of funds.

Christie Rust, director of sales for the Hilton, said the balls — Rotary in the Heritage Ballroom and the Mayor in the Discovery Ballroom — will share some common space.

She doesn’t anticipate any chafing, however.

“We’re excited about having opportunity for multiple events,” Rust said. “Being a convention center, we can accommodate multiple events.”

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com.