Black and White Ball to raise money for beach repair

Snow-covered piles of sand tower at the parking lot of Misquamicut State Beach that had been scooped off the roads after Superstorm Sandy came barreling through in October.

Once the snow melts, that sand will be used to replenish the beach scoured away in the hurricane.

Now the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce is working hard to get the beach back in shape.

They're planning a Black and White Ball to be held Feb. 24 at the Ocean House in Westerly. The hotel will be transformed into the Plaza Hotel from New York, harkening back to 1966 when flamboyant and notorious writer Truman Capote threw what became known as the Party of the Century, the Black and White Ball.

The owners of the Ocean House came up with the idea to help the "Bring Back the Beach" campaign.

The author of the book "Party of the Century" by Deborah Davis about that unforgettable night nearly 50 years ago will be at this one too, impressed with the detail put in to this event.

"We have everything covered I think as far as what Truman would (have) liked to see," said Natalie Sowa, Ocean House events manager said.

While the fabulous Ocean House was undamaged by Superstorm Sandy, you can see Misquamicut Beach from its back balcony.

Lisa Konicki, with the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce, has been heading up the fundraisers to bring back the beach.

"Misquamicut was the epicenter of New England in terms of the damages from Hurricane Sandy," Konicki said.

Almost sold out at $125 a ticket, everyone who is anyone will be there to relive the past while fashioning the future for Misquamicut.

"To restore our dunes, to repair our beach pavilion, and to help small businesses with grants they so desperately need to cover expenses not covered by insurance," Konicki said.

About $10 million a season is spent by beachgoers in Misquamicut each year, supporting 500 jobs.

"It's critical that we get these businesses back up and running," Konicki said.

About half of the $400,000 fundraising goal by Memorial Day has been met by the chamber. This party alone, to help 'Bring Back the Beach,' is expected to bring in an additional $100,000.

"It's been a very emotional journey for all of us in this community, trying to play beat the clock to get their businesses back open by Memorial Day and hand them a check and say, 'Here's a little bit of help,'" Konicki said.