Tupelo Charity Ball: ‘Evening in the Orient’

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Don’t expect to find Mark McAlister’s design style in any textbook. Everything he knows he’s learned on his own through trial and error.
“I’m self-taught all the way through,” said McAlister, who co-owns Mac and Company with Ron Reynolds. “I had to learn the aesthetics of how things work, teach myself the color wheel, etc.”
His talents led the Junior Auxiliary to invite Mac and Company to do the overall decorations for this year’s Charity Ball, which will be Feb. 10 from 7 p.m. to midnight at the BancorpSouth Arena in downtown Tupelo.
Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased at Flowerdale Marketplace, Village Frame Shoppe, Reed’s Gift Shop, Staggs and J. Britt Lighting.
“Last year, we did the corporate tables for the Charity Ball,” McAlister said. “We were a hit and they asked us to come back this year and do the whole thing.”
The theme for this year’s event is “Evening in the Orient,” with a nod toward Toyota.
“We chose the theme because at the heart of the Charity Ball is community, and Toyota has already made a big impact on our community,” said Jennifer Calhoun, one of the chairmen for the event. “Bamboo is a symbol of friendship and we want to welcome our new friends.”
McAlister assured there will be plenty of bamboo at the ball this year.
“We’ll have lots of fresh bamboo and lanterns – a lot of lanterns – plus floating candles, orchids, white lights, crystals and lots of glass, lots of shimmer,” he said. “We’ll have pea gravel and polished rocks on the tables, LED lights, gold fish, mirrors. It’s going to be elegant and sophisticated.”
The evening begins with the presentation of the Living Ads at 7, followed by the naming of the Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Music for that part of the program will be provided by the Tupelo Symphony Jazz Band.
At 8 p.m., Almost Famous, a band out of Memphis, will take the stage for the second year in a row.
“They were a huge hit last year,” Calhoun said. “The dance floor was still packed at midnight.”
Chef Joshua Simpson, executive chef for the Hilton Garden Inn and BancorpSouth Conference Center, will be providing food with an Asian flair for the 49th annual Charity Ball.
The night’s menu features a snowy crisp Asian salad with bamboo and citrus sesame vinaigrette; caramelized sweet potato puree; Japanese fried rice; citrus-scented green beans and pearl onions; ginger-crusted pork loin with plum sauce; and fresh assorted fruits and cake bites with chocolate dipping sauce.
McAlister said when the JA ladies told him the theme was “Evening in the Orient,” they stressed that they didn’t want to see a room full of red and black.
“So we’ll be doing a lot of celadon lemon grass green and white,” he said. “Once you do your research, you learn what Asian is and it’s not what you think it is. So Charity Ball turned into more of a Zen theme – bamboo, gold, green and white.”
Like Simpson, McAlister is donating his services to make the evening a success for the Junior Auxiliary, whose projects serve children in the Lee County area.
“I don’t take a job unless I feel passionate about it,” McAlister said. “And I feel passionate about this.”
ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

How to Go
WHAT: “Evening in the Orient,” the Junior Auxiliary’s 49th Annual Charity Ball.

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 10, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

WHERE: BancorpSouth Arena in downtown Tupelo.

ENTERTAINMENT: Living Ads and Outstanding Citizen Award starting at 7 p.m., with music provided by the Tupelo Symphony Jazz Band; Almost Famous will perform at 8.

COST: $40 per ticket, available at Flowerdale Marketplace, Village Frame Shoppe, Reed’s Gift
Shop, Staggs and J. Britt Lighting.

MISCELLANEOUS: Complimentary dinner featuring Chef Joshua Simpson; cash bar; Starbucks Latte Lounge. Must be 21 or older to attend.

FOR MORE INFO: Call (662) 231-4319 or
(662) 842-7544.