VERO BEACH — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – and at no place more so than Tara Plantation, where attendees of the Friday evening Fourth Annual Night of Lights fundraiser oohed and aahed their way through room after room filled with holiday lights and decorations. The event was hosted by the Exchange Club of the Treasure Coast and chaired this year by Holly Mantle and Erin Grall, whose father built Tara Plantation to house the law firm of Grall, Glenn & Grall. The atmosphere was just as festive outdoors, in full view of thousands of twinkling lights from ornamentation circling the large lakefront drive. There, under a large white tent, guests listened to the sounds of the band Rush Release as they perused long tables overflowing with donated silent auction items, ranging in value from $35 up to $1,200, and collected by Exchange Club members.
Culinary Capers served up a huge selection of scrumptious delights, accompanied by a tempting assortment of wines provided courtesy of Avanzare, Cork, Costa d’Este, Patti’s Bistro, MT’s Chophouse and The Tides.
Word has definitely gotten around that this affordable fundraiser is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
“This is our biggest one yet,” said Erin Grall. “We sold 300 advance tickets this year; that’s the most we’ve ever had.”
The party was made even more special in that this was the 20th Anniversary of Christmas at Tara.
“With eight kids, Christmas has always been a really special time of year for us,” explained Heather Grall of her seven siblings and parents Bernie and Marge Grall.
“In 1989 the office had just been built and Republican Women Aware had their Christmas House fundraiser here, decorated by area florists. That was the spark that started the Christmas creativity. It’s funny to look at photo albums from the beginning years; his decorating skills have grown immensely,” said Grall of her father, who she credits with designing and arranging 95% of the indoor decorations.
It takes approximately three months to assemble thousands of Snow Village pieces, this year spread out over seven different rooms, along with all the themed trees, wreaths, lighting and other fascinating collectibles and ornamentation.
“The best part is sharing it with the community,” said Bernie Grall, beaming with delight at the reaction of the guests. “It’s very demanding, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re done collecting though; there’s no more space.”
Night of Lights is the Exchange Club of the Treasure Coast’s primary annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the event benefit the child abuse prevention efforts of the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County and Youth Guidance, and helps provide scholarships for local high school seniors.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said Exchange Club member Georgia Irish. “It brings the joy of Christmas to everyone and enables us to help the kids have a better life.”