Rotary Gala

Rotarians Tara Farris, Mike Davis, Rick Farris, and Davy Killion-Ingram enjoy a game of poker at the 2019 Speakeasy Gala, held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Palestine.

The Rotary Club of Palestine’s 1920s-themed speakeasy gala is, like everything else during a pandemic, not so easy. Palestine Rotarians are planning a hybrid “Not So Easy Speakeasy Gala” at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, inviting everyone to participate, with Sunday as the deadline for making reservations.

By hosting the event virtually, Rotarians hope to raise $14,000 for service projects in the city while avoiding the risk of spreading COVID-19. Tickets for the part real, part digital gala are available at $50 per person. 

As part of the fun, attendees can dress to the nines in 1920’s attire when arriving to pick up meals. After participants return home to their own speakeasies, they can join games and activities online. 

Rotary spokesperson Mary Raum told the Herald-Press that gala events will occur inside participants’ homes while encouraging them to connect with others in online events.

“See and be seen at digital events that allow for fun and games from the safety of your own home,” Raum said.

Speakeasies, or private saloons, became widespread in the United States during Prohibition 1920 through 1933, after the 18th Amendment prohibited alcohol manufacture and sales. 

Some business owners started speakeasies in private rooms, where they kept alcohol sales and consumption secret from authorities. The term “speakeasy” arose from the trend to speak quietly of the private establishments to avoid trouble.

Rotary’s popular 1920’s-themed Speakeasy Gala in 2018 and 2019 has become the club’s primary annual fundraiser. 

Rotary’s current projects include purchasing new accessibility equipment at Reagan Park, collecting and donating school supplies, installing permanent restrooms in Davey Dogwood Park, and fighting polio worldwide through its parent organization, Rotary International.

Those willing to contribute more can purchase a “table sponsorship” delivery for $600. The delivery includes six complete catered meals with appetizers, linens, centerpieces, and two bottles of wine.

Participants can email Raum at or leave a message at 818-943-8626 to make reservations. Rotarians will send instructions for participating in the digital event after a final count is available.

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