Erik Arroyo showed up ready to play at the first Mayor's Ball event.
The Sarasota mayor knew he'd be getting roasted at the new fundraiser, so he made sure he'd have some jokes aimed at the audience as well. He made playful jabs at supporters and fellow city officials —even teasing vice mayor Kyle Battie for being perpetually late and Hagen Brody for coming off as a dollar-store JFK — all to the cheers and jeers of the crowd.
Of course, city staff and friends were more than ready to dish it back.
"Erik swore he'd get the traffic problem under control," said donor and supporter Donna Koffman to laughter throughout the crowd. "Flash forward, we ended up with electronic scooters."
It was all in fun, and such was the mood at the Mayor's Ball, a small but lively fundraiser in support of the new Sarasota City Foundation at the SRQ Waterworks social club on Oct. 15. The organization — put together in part by Arroyo himself — aims to assist in funding for city projects.
The idea for the Mayor's Ball took form last year when Donna Koffman met Arroyo for lunch and hatched out the idea for an annual event that could assist the new Sarasota City Foundation.
But for the Mayor's Ball itself, the goal was fundraising, fun and to be an informal roast of sorts of the Sarasota mayor. Donors and city officials arrived dressed in tropical (and stylish) Cuban-inspired dress wear for an evening of drinks and mingling.
Eventually Arroyo, Koffman and other organization committee members took to the top of the steps to thank the assembled group for helping fund the organization's new venture.
"This organization is to help bridge that gap between city services and the needs of the community," Arroyo said. "Imagine the foundation providing funds for repairing bridges, safer road signage or assisting with homelessness ... this all begins with a community that cares. It's a partnership between private philanthropy and government."
By the night's end, Koffman said the organization had raised over $100,000.
Arroyo said he looks forward to next year's event — he's already thinking of jokes to get back at the crowd with.