On Dec. 2, several Utahns dressed in their finest red ensembles and headed to Hotel Monaco’s annual Red Party, a fundraiser to commemorate World AIDS Day and raise money for the Utah AIDS Foundation. At this year’s event, which was themed “Party Like a Rock Star,” attendees got rock star make-overs, ate delicious food and partied alongside celebrity impersonators dressed like Britney Spears and gay icon Lady Gaga.
And when the decorations were packed up and the final donations tallied, those who put the party together felt like rock stars themselves.
“We [brought in] a little over $33,000, which is a $5,000 increase over last year,” said Monaco entertainment guru Shawn Jackson, who puts the party together each year along with the hotel’s staff and the Utah AIDS Foundation. The event pulled in more than last year’s high of $28,000 thanks to one generous check for $10,000.
Each year, hotels in the Kimpton chain, which owns Hotel Monaco, all over the United States hold parties on or around World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) to raise money for local HIV/AIDS charities. Not since its start in 2004 has the Salt Lake City’s Red Party come in first place in its region; an impressive feat considering that Utah has just one Kimpton property while some states, like California, have several. The runner up in the Southwest Region for this year, said Jackson, was the hotel in Dallas, Texas, which raised $17,000.
Nathan Measom, development director at UAF, said he was overjoyed at the generosity of Utah’s community at large.
“It’s amazing to see how much [the Red Party] has grown in the last six years,” he said. “It’s easily one of our most anticipated events of the year, and Shawn Jackson and everyone at Hotel Monaco do such an amazing job.”
“[A]ll the funds that were raised will benefit programs like our HIV/STI [sexually transmitted infections] test site and prevention education programs for people at risk for HIV,” Measom continued. “In addition, funds will also benefit our direct client service programs to ensure that people living with HIV receive the best possible care.”
Jackson said that he was also pleased with how much fun he and the guests had, whether getting rock star makeovers donated by local salon Ulysses, or sampling special red drinks and food courtesy of on-site restaurant Bambara.
“We partied like rock stars,” he said, laughing. “I still hurt!”