25th Chocolate Fantasy raises support for Boys & Girls Clubs

Photo Tim Stytle: Strawberry truffles made by Parliament Chocolate in Redlands are served at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Redlands-Riverside’s 25th annual Chocolate Fantasy on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Mitten Building in Redlands. Attendees voted Parliament Best Chocolatier.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Redlands-Riverside’s 25th Chocolate Fantasy raised more than $150,000 for Club programs on Feb. 9 – a record for the event.

Chocolate Fantasy has supported much-needed programs for local kids for a quarter of a century. When the event started, it helped stabilize the Club financially. It was first held at Edwards Mansion, then Orton Center at the University of Redlands, before moving to the historic Mitten Building in 2001 shortly after it opened.

“We’re grateful for all the board members, volunteers, local businesses, dignitaries, and staff who made Chocolate Fantasy such a success over 25 years,” said Club CEO P.T. McEwen.

More than 250 people attended this year’s event, which included both longstanding traditions like auctions and food from local businesses, and new touches like complimentary valet, photo booth, swag bag and signature cocktail.

Boys & Girls Club kids welcomed guests at the door. Groups including Assisteens, National Charity League, Inland Empire Job Corps, and Nike volunteered.

Attendees bid in live and silent auctions, and enjoyed dancing to the B.O.E. (Best of Everything) Band. Redlands resident Tom Kaney sold his handmade cutting boards to benefit the Club.

Food vendors included the Mitten, Parliament Chocolate, Mill Creek Cattle Co., Nothing Bundt Cakes, Jose’s Mexican Food, Old Spaghetti Factory, Chef Erin’s Confections and Buffalo Wild Wings. Attendees voted for their favorite restaurant, chocolate maker, and decorations. Parliament won Chocolatier of the Year, Chef Erin won Decorations of the Year, and Lunch at the Mitten won Restaurateur of the Year.

Live auction items included a trip to Rome and Tuscany, tickets and a trip to see “Hamilton” on Broadway, tickets and a trip to Paul McCartney’s Las Vegas tour stop, and one-of-a-kind experiences to see the Angels, Padres and Denver Broncos play, and dinner at the Rancho Mirage home of philanthropists Tim and Carol Rochford.

The event’s 25th anniversary sponsor was the Ramos and Ramirez family, and Grand Chocolatier sponsor was ADP.

Ray Watts, associate vice president for development at the University of Redlands, was the live auctioneer. He also co-hosted the event with KVCR 91.9 host Lillian Vasquez.

“Ray conducted a lively, energetic auction to benefit our kids,” said Kate Salvesen, the Club’s Vice President for Resource Development.