Posted: 08-25-2013
Kids Making It Hippie Ball 2

Written by Tini Howard // Photos courtesy Kids Making It

Free love is great, but sometimes at-risk kids need more than good vibrations to keep on truckin’. Enter local Wilmington charity Kids Making It, a youth entrepreneurship program focused on teaching kids woodworking and other vocational skills as they transition into adulthood. On June 29, Kids Making It hosted Hippie Ball 2 at Brooklyn Arts Center, the follow-up to last year’s festival of peace, love, and fundraising.

Kids Making It, or KMI, came back to the Brooklyn Arts Center to host their second Hippie Ball fundraiser, and they weren’t the only returning champions. Lead event organizers Diana Hill and Bonnie Gaynor were able to bring back last year’s A-list lineup of Bon Appetit Catering for the food and The Steady Eddies for the tunes. Auctioneer Ken Beasley led the live auction, featuring prize packages and vacation getaways from Port City Java, British Taxi, and the Blockade Runner, and there were more hippies than ever at the BAC. But not everything matched up with last year’s event: “Last year we had 99 items for the silent auction,” said Hill, “and this year we had 197.” There was something for everyone on the tables lining the perimeter of the room, with prizes from local vendors, popular chains Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and even KMI-made projects.

The Steady Eddies started off with a bang, launching into a hot cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Fire and keeping everyone dancing with Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. Dancers made themselves known early, and it didn’t take long for the floor to resemble Woodstock as attendees in their most colorful threads brought their grooviest of moves. Bright-eyed Haven Morrison took home the ladies’ Best Dancer award, with the men’s award coming down to a crowd-sourced dance-off.

The legendary Bo Dean attended in his tie-dyed finest to judge the best dressed and best dancing hippies. Bo also represented ACCESS of Wilmington’s Miracle Field, a sports field and playground designed for persons with disabilities and wounded warriors. The rubberized field and playground stands to be the largest handicapped-accessible playground in the South and was made possible by hundreds of benefactors. Bo paid it forward with his expert judging, aided and abetted by Wilmington’s own Style Girl, Jess James.

Selecting the best dressed among this crowd was a challenge. The looks were varied—fringe and denim vying with paisley and tie-dye and even a few Mod and go-go girls in the mix. Partygoers let their hair down, and some (having less than they did in the Summer of Love) opted for wigs. Bo and Jess stated that the criterion for Best Dressed Hippie was “authenticity over flash,” and it showed in their selections. Winners Gay Adaire and Mark Kennedy caught everyone’s eye with true vintage style. Gay’s French workman’s pants dated all the way back to the 1920s, and Mark bravely confessed the source of his bright clothes—the women’s section at his local thrift shop.

Auctioneer extraordinaire Ken Beasley took the stage (along with his 32 years of experience!) at 9 p.m. as the crowd kicked off their dancing shoes and pulled out their checkbooks. Ken’s performance as an auctioneer is astounding, something to be seen if you’ve never had the opportunity. He does 12 auctions a year, all for fun and out of the goodness of his heart. And a great goodness it is—Ken’s work raises $1.5 million a year for local charities and organizations.

With the support of local companies such as PPD, Wells Fargo, and Bon Appetit, as well as the turnout and generosity of attendees, there’s no question that Hippie Ball 2 was a groovy success in all the important ways. KMI relies on the support of the community to deliver hands-on education to kids in Wilmington, so there’s no better theme than that of peace and love. But if you can’t wait until Hippie Ball 3 to show your support, Kids Making It hosts Breakfast at the Beach every November in Wrightsville Beach, or you can check out their work and make a contribution today at


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