Stepping back in time, patrons of the old-fashioned speakeasy set up inside Oakdale’s Gene Bianchi Community Center on Saturday night seemed right at home, visiting the blackjack tables, listening to a singer croon a song, taking a spin on the ballroom dance floor, even enjoying a libation at the bar.
It was all in good fun, with the “Naughty Night Out” designed to raise funds for the Oakdale Museum and History Center. It was the first event of its kind, but based on the success, coordinator Gretchen (Haidlen) Arbini said it likely won’t be the last.
“We’ve had a committee for months putting this together,” Arbini explained over the laughter from the crowd and the music from the stage. “I just really wanted to have something different for the people to do, something other than the usual dinner and dance. We’ve had a lot of great sponsors, including A.L. Gilbert, which was the diamond sponsor, and a ton of volunteers.”
Set up like a speakeasy of the 1920s, most attendees came dressed in period costume and fit right in to the surroundings. There was a spread of food provided through Grgich Family Catering, the music was provided by a solo singer early on, then a big band for the headline performance, and there were plenty of games, food, auction items and conversation to keep everyone happy.
“For a first year event, I’m very pleased with the turnout,” Arbini added.
A sixth generation Oakdalen, Arbini said her uncle Tim Haidlen was instrumental in getting the museum going and she wants to make sure that its place in Oakdale is maintained.
Bev Haidlen was marking her 88th birthday on Saturday with a trip to the event and Mayor Pat Paul was also in period dress, enjoying the festivities.
“This is fabulous,” she said. “This absolutely has to be an annual event.”
“I think it’s great and I love it,” added friend Andrea Gilbert, resplendent with bright pink hair for the occasion. “I love it when they make money and we know it’s staying here.”