VALPARAISO | People dressed head to toe in white will carry their picnic baskets into Taltree Arboretum and Gardens on June 28 for this year's gala, Picnic en Blanc.
Taltree's Gala Committee got the idea from Diner en Blanc, an elegant dinner event that began in Paris 25 years ago. Guests dress from head to toe in white and bring white tables, white chairs and picnic baskets filled with elegant dinners to a location within the city that is announced at the last minute. The committee changed some of the details to create the more casual Picnic en Blanc.
"Taltree is a picnic kind of place," said Minakshi Ghuman, a member of the committee. "I love to take my grandkids there."
Although Taltree's guests already know the location, the committee is following Diner en Blanc's theme of mystery by keeping most of the details under wraps, including the emcee.
"What I can tell you is there will be live music by Hey Jimmy," said Anicia Kosky, communications director at Taltree.
There will also be raffles and golf-cart tours of Taltree. The mystery emcee has some games planned as well.
Guests' outfits and picnics can be as elegant, casual or silly as they wish, as long as they follow the white color scheme.
"It will be able to show the creativity of the guests," Kosky said.
Melinda Liller and her co-workers at the Breast Care Center at Franciscan St. Anthony Health are keeping with the French theme for their picnic, which will be a potluck of different French dishes.
Many of the women have worked together since the center opened in the early 2000s. They like to attend community events together.
"We do serious-minded work, looking for breast cancer," Liller said. "It's a good way to get out and destress."
Picnic en Blanc will be Taltree's eighth annual fundraising gala. The proceeds will go toward maintaining the 360-acre property and building habitats for native species like the American woodcock and red-neck pheasant.
Event tickets are available for $35 until June 26. Those who would rather have dinner provided can purchase pre-order dinner tickets for $55 until June 19. Tickets are available at TaltreePicnic.org or by calling (219) 462-0025.