The ninth annual Kandy Kane Ball & Toy Drive was another sellout with more than 1,000 guests celebrating Dec. 10 at Joe's Bar.
This 20,000-square-foot, warehouse-style venue was transformed into a winter wonderland with hanging mistletoe, ice sculptures and ornaments. Upside-down Christmas trees hung from the ceiling and even the beams in the rafters were encircled with twinkling lights.
The Arlingtones started the evening with carols and songs of the season. Committee members Mark Bell, Chris Draska, Matt Unertl, Matt Joki, Gabby Lobascio and others thanked the crowd and toasted the event. DJs Sye Young and Jem rocked the room with high-energy dance music.
Friends squeezed together in photo booths, enjoyed the VIP lounge, took photos with Santa and viewed classic Christmas movies on 120 plasma screen TVs.
The Kandy Kane Ball was created in 2002 by a friends who decided to throw a surprise party for Courtney Dempsey, a friend with cancer. Dempsey's only wish was to provide toys for underpriveleged children in Chicago.
The Rev. Jeremiah Boland of Holy Family Church was helping distribute thousands of toys and bikes to children from Holy Family (a partner of the Kandy Kane Ball), New Way Bethel Shelter, Safer Foundation and
Joki described the event as "a house party on steroids, not corporate, no chairmen, everyone takes ownership." Tickets were $40 with a toy donation.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.
to see photos from the events.
Find Candace Jordan's blog at