Hot air balloon rides on Oct. 7 to boost MARK Project

Margaretville — The MARK Project has truly hit the “heights” of creative fund-raising in its latest endeavor to meet the ever-escalating funding needs of our beleaguered communities.
“Our latest ploy is to launch our friends and supporters aloft at the height of leaf peeping season from the magnificent vistas of Hanah Mountain Resort in a hot air balloon,” said MARK Executive Director Peg Ellsworth, adding “For a price, of course!”

On Sunday Oct. 7, the Gala Fall Foliage Lift Off Event takes off at 4 p.m. at Hanah’s gorgeous mountaintop clubhouse and restaurant, where guests will enjoy beer, wine and amazing hors d’oeuvres. You can then take in the view from a “sky-side” seat via a tethered hot air balloon, courtesy of Balloon NY. Even kids (ages 8-16) can take a ride for $5, if they are accompanied by an adult and have an advance reservation. All-inclusive tickets for the event are $40 per person, or $75 for twosomes.

The thrills and chills don’t end there, either,” said Ellsworth, “We’re auctioning off four fabulous gift items that day, but you can also bid on them via Facebook, even if you can’t attend the event.”

Generous donors
An anonymous donor has underwritten the hot air balloon ride for four people, this one untethered, to be scheduled by the winning bidder. The five pilots of Upstate NY bring more than a century of expertise, ballooning all over the world. They launch from various sites in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, depending on which way the wind is trending and where they know the lay of the landing sites. The balloon ride for four is a $1,000 value and includes a champagne toast. The gift certificate is valid through next summer. You can visit Balloon NY at www.catskillmountainballoon.homestead.com to learn more.

For those who like their gifts to be lasting, or even eternal, you can bid on a John Sanders original 18 x 34 wall sculpture of steel, copper, and bronze. John himself has long been attracted to the permanence that this art form gives to the ephemeral — and his own creative work is informed by more than four decades of practical welding experience. In his vast two- story studio on Dugan Hill in Roxbury, with two forges and a blacksmithery, Sanders actually does his most creative work in the smallest room, explaining, “You can find your sculpture more easily in a white room … spare, strong and concentrated.” His work has been showcased numerous times in New York City and throughout the U.S., as well as China and Germany.

And, if you prefer to enjoy your adventures with both feet planted (somewhat) on terra firma, you won’t be disappointed with a weekend for two in The Roxbury’s newest, over-the-top and under-the-sea themed suite, “The Archeologist’s Digs.”

Local inspiration
Inspired in part by the eccentric artifacts of Roxbury’s very own peripatetic globetrotter, the late Elton Ridge, the masterminds at the Roxbury have created more than a destination — rather an ever-evolving “journey whose only boundaries are those of the imagination” —  beds that disappear and reappear, secret (until you find them!) passageways, opulent boudoirs fit for Egyptian royalty, buried treasures, a library where the shelves don’t stand still, underwater catacombs, and well . . .  you’ll just have to place the winning bid to find out more! The Roxbury and The Digs in particular have already attracted more than one national TV network to showcase them in special episodes coming later this winter. You can start your own research on the Roxbury Motel’s Facebook page, where more of the Digs are uncovered each day.

Finally, if you are stumped for the perfect birthday or anniversary gift, or just feel the need to treat yourself and your friends, then place your bid for dinner and cocktails for four at Public Restaurant, right on Bridge Street in Roxbury. Open 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Public offers homemade soups and starters, an eclectic menu of steaks, chops, seafood and pasta, with Asian and Mediterranean specialties most weekends, all with an inviting and casual ambience that encourages lingering. Dinner for four is minimum $150 value. You can get a feel for Public on their Facebook page. Go ahead, you deserve it.

“Hard times call for bold measures, so we wanted to create an event this year that was truly memorable,” said Ellsworth. “Like so many community organizations, we have been walloped with budget cuts as deep as 50 percent, and this for our operational budget, the one that pays the staff and keeps the computers humming. Even worse, this austerity comes in the wake of 2011, when our communities’ businesses and families still need more help than ever. We are trying to leverage more funds for our communities while doing twice as much with less and less. Every dollar we raise to keep MARK running has exponential returns in the funds and support we can muster for our towns and businesses.”

To RSVP or for more information, call MARK at 586-3500 or e-mail  diane @markproject.org. If you want to join the live auction that day via Facebook, go to www.markproject.org, read about the event, and you’ll find a link to register on-line for the auction. Once MARK receives your registration, they will send you your bona-fide bidder’s number, which you can use on the MARK Project’s event page on Facebook during the auction that Sunday (www.facebook. com/MarkProjectBenefitAuction). You’ll also find photos, updates and more information about all the auction offerings on that page.