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The Gaillard Auditorium has seen many a glamorous affair, but rarely has the venue itself looked so fabulous as it did for Thursday evening’s much-awaited Circle of Light Gala. The annual black tie fete moved from Marion Square to Gaillard this year, a change that left many returning attendees curious about event and its new Havana theme.

Event designer Tara Guerard absolutely transformed the Gaillard. Stepping over the threshold to the cocktail parlor felt like being transported to another world, or at least another country. Delicate white and green fabric draped the walls and ceiling, and vibrant bursts of yellow light gave the room an ethereal feel. Chic light fixtures and enormous hot pink blooms added an exotic feel, and dark wicker lounges and green tables beckoned guests from the bar area to the cocktail and after party stage area.

Partygoers found themselves torn between listening to the live Cuban beats and snagging savory bites from the Grill 225 servers. Miniature cuban sandwiches, citrus tuna towers, and petite portions of beans and rice helped whet everyone’s appetites over cocktails, and soon guests were ushered into the dining room where the Charleston Jazz Orchestra Latin Ensemble continued the party with their swingin’ sounds.

Everyone took their seat at their tables to a warm welcome from Darkness to Light, and each of the 13 respected master chefs began sending out their first course to their respective tables. Partygoers demolished the first course in time for an incredibly touching video regarding Darkness to Light’s mission and cause, and servers rushed to deliver the main course as the live auction kicked off.

Savory gave way to sweet as an array of delectable treats issued forth from the kitchen, but all eyes were on a very special auction item: a snow white labrador puppy. The precious bundle of fluff set off multiple bidding wars and fetched a final bid of an impressive $6,500.

Then it was back to the entertainment tent and the dance floor, where Atlanta-based cover band The Maxx kicked off a rockin’ after party.

Darkness to Light (D2L) works to end childhood sexual abuse through prevention, awareness, and education. The organization asserts that if sexual abuse can be prevented, it can be stopped, and the non-profit works to help adults recognize the signs of abuse and react responsibly. Today D2L has more than 2,500 trained Facilitators teaching their educational program in 48 states and 10 additional countries.