Revelers entering the Surrealist Masquerade Ball on Friday night might well feel as if they have stepped into a painting by Salvador Dali, the master of the unexpected image.
The Goddess of Time will welcome partygoers to a world of fairies and live animals on Noah's Ark. Flappers will beckon at gaming tables. Creatures from outer space will try to lure the unwary into a time tunnel. Statues in the garden will come to life.
Actors will perform La Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera on the huge staircase of the Kapok Pavilion. Afterward, a local couple will be married.
It's all part of the elaborate Halloween party and benefit scheduled at the Kapok Pavilion, in Clearwater.
"So many people would like a safe haven to dress up and have fun," said Sally Anne Andrew, who planned the party.
"This is an opportunity for people to meet, and to generate some new friendships."
Ms. Andrew is creator of two previous surrealist balls, in 1991 and 1992, that benefited the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Last year, the museum did not offer the annual dress-up party.
Wayne Atherholt, marketing and public relations director of the Salvador Dali Museum, said the museum has sponsored a number of the parties, including one at the Kapok Tree restaurant in 1989, but "they required a lot of staff time and the net results (in money raised) were not worth it."
This year, the party will benefit Habitat for Humanity, a national organization that helps low- and moderate-income families buy homes.
Ms. Andrew said many people called to tell her they missed the event last year, and encouraged her to organize a ball this year.
"People called and asked if I could get sponsorships and put it together," she said. "I decided to do it to benefit Habitat for Humanity."
Although most previous surrealist balls have been in St. Petersburg, Ms. Andrew chose the Kapok this year, she said, because of the "size of the benefit."
"And the Kapok is not such a difficult drive from Tampa. Besides, it is my favorite place to throw a benefit."
The National Association of Catering Executives and Caviar Events, both sponsors, will present exotic decorations, live performances, two horses outfitted with Renaissance regalia and mounted by characters in Renaissance costumes, and six chef stations. Organizers hope to draw 500 to 700 revelers to the Halloween party.
They also hope that guests will get into the spirit with elaborate costumes of their own, as has been the tradition.
Tom James, president of the Dali museum and chief executive officer of Raymond James & Associates, said costumes at past events were quite creative, including a table with a head on it, ornate trees, wood nymphs, shapeless clocks and, of course, Salvador Dali himself.
James said that although the museum could not continue to sponsor the party, he enjoyed the balls he attended.
"It was a nice party that drew a different crowd than usually was associated with the museum, but it was in keeping with the Dali tradition."
IF YOU GO
The Surrealist Masquerade Ball, with the theme "Passages of Time, Past, Present and Future," will begin at 8 p.m. Friday at the Kapok Pavilion, 923 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, $60 per couple in advance or $75 per couple at the door. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity. Wear costumes or "creative black tie." Entertainment, six catering stations, desserts, silent auction and cash bar. Call 289-2709.