This Saturday night, Congreso de Latinos Unidos will host their Fifth Annual “Congreso Gala Latina” at the Hyatt at The Bellevue. For another incredible year, the black-tie gala is SOLD OUT! 500 of the area’s most prominent leaders, partners and supporters of the Latino community will connect, celebrate, and support Congreso’s mission to strengthen the Latino communities found in the Greater Philadelphia region. Each year, the Gala honors the tastes, sights and sounds from a Latin American country. Last year, the Gala celebrated the South American country of Peru with their magically-themed evening “A Night in Machu Picchu.”
[Photos courtesy of Marie Labbancz
Established in 1977, Congreso de Latinos Unidos’ mission is to provide a bilingual network of adult and youth services including: truancy intervention, out-of-school youth development programs, workforce development, drug and alcohol counseling, housing counseling, health and wellness education, teen pregnancy prevention and intervention, maternal and child health programs, and HIV/AIDS services. Actively engaging the community means Congreso works with many different Latino and Hispanic groups including: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican Republic, Central American, Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Salvadoran, South American, Argentinian, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, Spanish, and of course, Spanish American. All of which are found right here in Philadelphia’s culturally diverse neighborhoods. The Annual Gala Latina raises necessary funds to support and empower the ever-growing needs of the Latino community.
Evantine was honored yet again to provide event design for the gala, and working with the Peruvian theme of “A Night in Machu Picchu” was inspirational. The abundance of sacred and natural elements found at Machu Picchu confirms the conviction that the Incas constructed a sacred city that served as a place of pilgrimage or sanctuary. Working with event planner, Linda Pick, we looked to this fascinating Incan heritage, the spirtual nature of the location and the impressive Peruvian geography, as our design inspiration. As always, when we collaborate with non-profit clients we strive to create an impactful design that can be conveyed with the least amount of expenditure.
The entire Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt at The Bellevue was layered with rich textural lighting to create an outdoor environment of ancient gray stone, natural green pastures and peaceful blue skies. A scenic view of Machu Picchu was projected onto a giant scrim suspended on the stage which would serve as a backdrop all evening. Ancient “weathered” stone steps and faux stone walls held ceremonial flame pots created a real-life Incan stage. As guests entered the Ballroom, Peruvian musicians played haunting wooden instruments and hazers provided clouds of white fog and mist.
All forty-five dinner tables were dressed in dark metallic gold brocade and antique gold linens. A variety of centerpieces were designed using distressed iron, pounded metal, carved wood and metal beaded candle sticks, metallic gold vases and pottery. No flowers were used; only heavy, hand-formed umber-colored pillar candles, stacked rusty pedestals and brass jars. Gold Incan masks were added to the design of the tables, as were stunning ancient Incan-inspired table numbers and programs.
This year, indeed, this Saturday night, Congreso will celebrate another South American country. Chile, home to delicious and world-famous wines as well as the legacy of poet Pablo Neruda, and thirty-three very brave miners. In addition to an elaborate Chilean wine tasting, the evening will include latin dance lessons and Chilean music. The esteemed Benjamin Leavenworth, Honorary Consul of Chile, will serve as the Honorary Gala Chair, symbolizing Chile’s strong ties to the Philadelphia region.