Norwalk Mayor’s Ball will be in Stamford

Mayor Harry Rilling

Mayor Harry Rilling.

The following is a letter from Mayor Harry Rilling to Norwalk residents:
Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce the date of the 2017 Mayor’s Ball will be Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. As most of you know, Continental Manor, which graciously hosted the Mayor’s Ball for over 20 years, closed unexpectedly last January. Since it was the only location in Norwalk large enough to accommodate the 500 or more guests who attend the Ball each year, my staff and I went to work right away to look for alternatives. We researched and priced potential locations, and left no stone unturned. When a thorough search confirmed that none of Norwalk’s facilities had the capacity needed, we asked for ideas, and considered a number of other options.

We found out that most options would have more than doubled the ticket price. Since the Ball is a charitable event whose purpose is to support the work of Norwalk-based non-profits each year, we are committed to keeping costs for space rental, music, and dinner reasonable in order to donate the greatest amount of the proceeds possible.

After struggling to balance these priorities, we decided, reluctantly, to look at options in our neighboring towns. We found that the Italian Center in Stamford will enable us to meet all three critical objectives – continuing to accommodate 500 guests, keeping your ticket prices as reasonable as possible, and maintaining the Ball’s charitable purpose; giving significant funding to the good work of Norwalk’s non-profit organizations. This year’s location also offers sufficient parking, easy access and good space, and is well-known among Norwalkers.

This was a very difficult choice, and one that we made after considering all the alternatives. Since we really wanted to hold the Ball in Norwalk, it isn’t a perfect solution. In order to make the commute a little easier, we are looking into the possibility of offering limited bus transportation from City Hall to the Italian Center and back on a first-come first-served basis. We hope that some of Norwalk’s new development will provide additional hometown options in the following year.

We are looking forward to a very enjoyable, successful event and are counting on your support to make it a wonderful evening, as always. We are planning a raffle, and both a silent and live auction with great prizes.

More information will follow. Please plan to join us for an evening of good food, dancing, and fun on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. I look forward to seeing you there!
Harry W. Rilling
Mayor of Norwalk


Joanie October 27, 2016 at 8:39 am

I cannot believe a place in Norwalk could not be found to hold this “gala”. Maybe they could have not made it a “gala” but a charitable buffet somewhere – if charity is suppose to be the reason for this party – why the need for a full course meal – dancing – etc. I am always amazed at the costly events that are put on in the name of charity!

Lisa Thomson October 27, 2016 at 9:29 am

Maybe in the future, have it in the summer at the Gallagher mansion on the grounds outside, where a marquee could be set up somewhere. Having the premier Norwalk function in Stamford is just sad.

Piberman October 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

Sign of the times that Nowalk’s economy cannot support a banquet hall ? Puzzling that the Oak Hills Authority reportedly remains determined to downsize the Oak Hills restaurant so that it can no longer serve as a banquet facility. Doesn’t look like Nowalk’s economy is moving “forward” as promised.

Piberman October 27, 2016 at 11:52 am

It’s an interesting calculation for readers to do the maths and divide the Ball’s “contribution” by the total cost of tickets by the 500 or 600 attendees and “benefactors”. But, hey its tax deductible. Norwalk’s Hospital hosts the City’s largest ball – a true Gala – that realizes a much larger “net take”.Their bar is much smaller and the proceeds save lives. Fewer politicians attend the Hospital Gala. But one gets to meet the Hospitals staff, its physicians and local physicians. Highly recommended. Norwalk’s Hospital remains the City’s most prominent institution supported not only by the City but quite strongly by the surrounding towns and major firms throughout the region.

Really? October 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

These jokes just write themselves and too bad an alternative in Norwalk couldn’t be found. Maybe they found that the Gala needs to not benefit the town written in the town charter.

Norwalk Mom October 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Surprised they didn’t use Dolce…It is on a fabulous historic property in Norwalk and the food is terrific! This just begs the question – what is Norwalk going to be known for…a plethora of apartments (some destined to never be finished, others turning into Section 8 properties because they can’t get rented, and others that compromise the integrity of our city landmarks such as the Library on Belden Rd.) Just disappointed that our own Mayor is not finding a way to keep his party in Norwalk.

EveT October 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm

@Rob, Charities in recent years have included Open Door Shelter, Person to Person, Hurricane Sandy victims, Room to Grow Preschool. A different charity is designated each year.

EveT October 27, 2016 at 1:10 pm

@NorwalkMom, you read the part about available venues more than doubling the price, right? Guess how much Dolce would charge?

Wineshine October 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Missed opportunity here. The Martime Center would take a little work, but would be an ideal venue for many reasons.

Bonnie Dubson October 27, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I would like to suggest Literacy Volunteers at the Norwalk Public Library as a worthy beneficiary.

Devoting the proceeds from the Mayor’s 24th Annual Community Ball to Literacy Volunteers will ensure the organization’s continued success. Currently serving approximately 500 students from over 30 nations, Literacy Volunteers is a much-needed resource for Norwalk’s immigrant population. Its cadre of 80 plus all-volunteer tutors provides English as a Second Language (ESL), basic literacy and citizenship classes free of charge.

Literacy Volunteers’ tutors are committed to helping our students better themselves through education. Our efforts ultimately strengthen individuals, families and the fabric of our shared community.

Piberman October 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm

There’s no shortage of Country and Yacht Clubs throughout the County that can host large gatherings. And Stamford has oodles. A real issue is comparing the net proceeds of the Ball with the total cost of tickets. A pay bar would surely improve the net proceeds. But why interfere with the “good times’.

Donna King, Mayor's Office November 4, 2016 at 11:14 am

As someone who has participated in the planning and preparation for the Mayor’s Ball, I’d like to just respond to some of the complaints on the Mayor’s announcement about the 2017 Ball. This ball has always been a Community Ball. It was never very expensive and has attracted folks from all walks of life. It is a tradition that the Mayor, more than anyone, would like to have continue in Norwalk. But, that was not possible this year because of the high cost of expanding venues to a 500+ capacity. Tents on the lawn are very expensive. Caterers are expensive, etc. We did look at and explore many venues in Norwalk which I will list. None were affordable if expanded with a tent. We needed a location with everyone in one room, including a dance floor. The point is to keep the tradition, as established by Frank and Louise Esposito. All the following venues were explored: Maritime Center, Dolce, The Pavilion, Stepping Stones… and others.
Please remember the point is to bring Norwalk folks together and donate to local, worthy charities. Thank you and we hope to see you on 1/27/17.

Debora November 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm


Just out of curiosity, will the tickets be limited to ONLY Norwalk residents? Could we be moving an event out of Norwalk to accommodate people that don’t live here? Just a thought.

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