DeKALB – Altgeld Hall looked as much a castle inside as it did outside Friday night.
Northern Illinois University’s medieval styled building hosted DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau’s third annual Royal Children’s Ball, which featured hundreds of children and their families in princess dresses and sharp suits.
Keri Nelson, a board member for the Youth Service Bureau, said the event was the organization’s largest fundraiser in history before it even officially started with advance ticket sales eclipsing last year’s total, 510 to 440. Nelson said she expected the number to be higher after tickets purchased at the door were counted.
“This has quickly become our signature event,” she said. “It’s a great way for us to let the community know what YSB does.”
The event brings in between $10,000 and $15,000 for the organization that offers services such as anger management, parenting classes, early intervention and a wide array of counseling services for youth.
Tammie Cross knows firsthand the importance of youth-focused community services. Cross, a Cortland resident, attended the event with her “little,” Elisabeth Boothe. Cross said the services the Big Brothers Big Sisters program offers works in harmony with the YSB.
“It’s very important to give kids something to do and keep them out of trouble,” Cross said. “And I love dancing and dressing up, so I thought it would be a fun way to spend time with my little.”
Cross and Boothe were joined by dozens of others on the dance floor, which was one of the many attractions available during the three-hour program. The ball also featured a magic show, crafts, an obstacle course, raffles, silent auctions and a family photograph station.
The events have been a hit in the past, enticing many people to come year after year. Clare Corbin, a fifth-grader at Littlejohn Elementary, attended the event for the third time with two of her friends and said it was the dancing that keeps her coming back.
“I’ve been counting down since February,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun hanging out with friends and dancing.”
Others had loftier expectations than a fun dance with friends. Five-year-old Hazel Escamilla was hopeful she would not just get to be a princess for a night; she wanted to see her favorite princesses in one of the most magical places on Earth.
“I want the tickets to Walt Disney World,” she said of the many prizes available in the auction and raffle portion of the night.