The superlatives roll off their tongues in rapid-fire bursts. Words like phenomenal, fantastic, beautiful and amazing are part of a panoply of adjectives the ladies behind use to describe their "pivot" from the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s biennial Christmas in the Sky event.
On a recent afternoon, Sandi Kallenberg, Pam Atchison and Heidi Kallenberg were poring over the final draft of the calendar included in this issue of 318 Forum, which details a remarkable selection of prizes that SRAC has assembled for the project.
Like everything else in the world, Christmas in the Sky, usually held every other December, has been affected by COVID-19. Sandi Kallenberg, SRAC chair, said, "We knew that there was no chance that we would be able to do Christmas in the Sky. During the pandemic, most people were really depressed and really way more concerned about [the virus] than something fun and frivolous.”
Thus, the idea to create a club that would give away something every day for 365 days was born. As daunting as that sounds, the group of volunteers has entered the final countdown, with the first drawing to be held live Dec. 12 on KTAL NBC 6.
Despite COVID, Kallenberg said the local community has embraced the idea of the club. “It's been so encouraging. The sponsorships are phenomenal, and the gathering of what would have been auction items are unbelievable.”
“For $365, that's one dollar a day, and you get 10 chances to win the daily prize; it’s absolutely phenomenal,” Kallenberg said. If you win one day, you have nine more opportunities to win the daily prize. Each time you win, your chances to win go down by one.
“And even though we said it's 365 days of prizes, some of the days have multiple prizes,” Kallenberg explained. “What you've been able to get to win has just been unbelievable. So, we're very, very excited, and we believe that once [318 Forum] comes out with all of the items, people are going to start, you know, going nuts.”
Pam Atchison, executive director of SRAC, said, “There are many days where there are [multiple] prizes. We have way more than 365 prizes. Like on the very first day, Dec. 12, we have 12 prizes. All throughout the year – Fathers' Day there are many prizes, Mothers' Day, many prizes, Valentine's Day.” She noted that the Hilton, Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, and Sam’s Town have all put together staycation packages that include rooms, food and amenities for some lucky winners.
Up for grabs every month are some glitzy baubles to tempt the ladies. “We have jewelry that’s just unbelievable,” according to Atchison. “Rings and earrings and pendants [that] are just sensational. Sid Potts, Lee Michaels, Louisiana Coin and Jewelry, and McCary’s – those four jewelers – each of them has donated a piece of jewelry every month.”
Club 365 project chair Heidi Kallenberg has an obvious passion for the local arts scene. She offered details on another of the prizes. “KTAL [NBC 6] has generously donated a trip to L.A., where you will be picked up by a limousine and taken to a beautiful hotel. Then, you go and see a live taping of 'The Voice,' and you have dinner. That’s the kind of item that we would have put in the live auction.”
For the music aficionado, there’s a Rolling Stones guitar signed by all of the band members. There’s also a Bruce Springsteen package of memorabilia to be given away on July 4. “[It’s] framed beautifully, and it’s signed. It’s very cool,” she added. “The prizes are just incredible. They’re just so great. They’re better than we ever expected them to be.”
For those who like some spirit in their lives, lucky Club 365 members will have the opportunity to win some potent potables each month of the year. According to Atchison, “You name the 'of the month,' and we've got it. Right down to the tickets to a Día De Los Muertos Tequila dinner at El Cabo Verde for two.” Sponsors like Glazers, Eagle Distributing and Cuban Liquor have donated “of the month” selections of wine, beer, scotch, vodka and whiskey, for example.
Some lucky winners will get to host a specially created dinner party by local celebrity chefs. The ladies said that many of the “Golden Fork” chefs have donated dinners. For example, Melissa Brannon, who is in charge of the Food Prize segment of The Prize, will cook dinner for eight people either at your house or at Artspace, you decide. Food for the event will be donated by Brookshire’s. As Heidi Kallenberg said, “It’s a great deal to take a chance on. It’s a great party to take a chance on.”
SRAC Executive Director Atchison noted that the year of the pandemic has been especially tough on the arts and arts organizations. Usually, SRAC has Christmas in the Sky to help provide the necessary funding for things like ArtBreak, Shreveport Commons and various other projects sprinkled throughout the year.
“Everyone understands that this is called the ‘pivot’ or ‘placeholder’ year,” Atchison said. “It has been really difficult. Nobody can have the big parties that are the kinds of rentals that we have at Artspace and the earned income that we normally have. All the budgets are really tight this year. If everyone in the community will buy a membership and participate in the event, this will save us for the year and take us into the planning of Christmas in the Sky 2022. This takes us all the way through Dec. 11, 2021.”
Heidi Kallenberg found a way to include Christmas into the Club 365 concept. “This would be an incredible Christmas present. This would be the coolest Christmas present for the person who has everything. You know that people will often make a donation to a charity in the name of someone. That's what you're doing; you make the donation, and it would be in [their] honor, a donation to the community that they live in, [to] the arts.” But she added it’s more than just that. “They would also have these chances to win these really, really fun prizes. It would be an incredible gift.”
The list of prizes is extensive, and the calendar in this issue lays out what will be up for grabs on which of the 365 days ahead. Be sure to keep the section for reference all year. You can also go online at www.318Forum.com or www.joinclub365.com for the complete list.
Atchison and Sandi Kallenberg were highly complimentary of the group making Club 365 happen. “The way that Heidi Kallenberg [event chair] has led this challenge this year, has gotten these prizes, at least as many sponsors as we had for Christmas in the Sky, and has put a team together that’s out there working every single day to make this work.”
Atchison went on to praise the contributions of Elizabeth Kennedy, Susannah Poljak and Sarah Toups, saying, “The four of them have been the major people every single day working on this project.”
Major sponsors of Club 365 are Dr. Michael Acurio, Kilpatrick's Rose- Neath, KTAL NBC 6, 318 Forum, Lee Michaels, Sid Potts, Citizens National Bank, Hilton Shreveport, City of Shreveport and Sign It.
Mardi Gras masks, Staycations and kids' toys are among the variety of prizes on parade. Win up to 10 times!