The hat

City Councilor Mike Williams twirled his hat during last year's Mayor's Gala. The formal affair is on tap for Friday.

Dinner, dancing and perhaps a few stogies are on tap Friday when the 2011 Mayor's Gala hits the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.

Billed as "Una Noche en Habana Vieja," participants will be treated to A Night in Old Havana. Hand-rolled Cubanos are optional but should be enjoyed in a designated outdoor smoking area.

The evening will include entertainment by the local group Joe Sais & the Showcase Band.

Silent and live auctions will feature numerous products and events, like a lunch with Mayor Tom Swisstack. Last year, lunch with his honor went for $1,000.

"This is important because it brings parts of the community together," he said.

Additionally, keys to the Harris Jewelers Treasure Chest are available for $30 through Thursday. Of the maximum 300 keys sold, 30 will open the chest and will win a prize from within, said Debbi Moore, president and CEO of the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce.

This is the fourth time the chamber has sponsored the annual mayor's gala, with 75 percent of the proceeds benefiting its foundation. The remaining proceeds go into an endowment fund.

The Community Foundation distributes funds to local charities, Moore said.

Over the past four years, the gala has raised and distributed nearly $90,000 to local charities, she said.

Earlier this year, the foundation awarded nearly $37,000, with the bulk of that coming from last year's gala.

The recipients included Advocacy Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children's Grief Center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Council, Galloping Grace Youth Ranch, Haven House, Junior Achievement, NAMI, New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation, Rio Rancho Astronomical Society, Rio Rancho Kiwanis Foundation, Sandoval County CASA, Special Olympics Rio Rancho, St. Felix Pantry, Storehouse West, Therapy Assistance Foundation, Watermelon Mountain Ranch and Westside Blind Friends.

Tickets are still available for $150 a person. For information call 892-1533, extension 100.

-Glen Rosales