By Katie Lovett
---- — How do you take a trip to Paris without leaving Newburyport? Attend the Firehouse Center for the Arts’ annual auction on April 20.
For this year’s celebration, which helps to raise crucial funds to operate and maintain the historic theater in the heart of the city, organizers have opted for a more cosmopolitan feel.
For many years, the nonprofit organization used to host a Kentucky Derby party for its large spring fundraiser. Two years ago, the evening was a celebration of the Firehouse’s 20th anniversary, and last year, “A Way-Off-Broadway Party” was held, complete with the presentation of the “Townie” Awards.
Next Saturday, however, revelers are encouraged to enjoy the numerous aspects of Parisian life and culture while helping to support the Firehouse. Proceeds from the evening are used to support numerous programs, including the School Show Series, Senior Readers Theater, Glee Club and school vacation week programs.
Guests are urged to “to dress up in Dior or down in best beret and striped T-shirt, and enjoy fine French fare, a glass of Beaujolais or Sauvignon Blanc and drink in the atmosphere of springtime in Paris,” Firehouse development director Beth Falconer wrote in an e-mail.
The evening will include live and silent auctions, live music, dancing — and an opportunity to capture the moment with a photo booth and the use of Parisian props.
As guests arrive, they will find local artists painting en plein air and a slideshow featuring scenes of Paris.
One of the highlights of this year’s auction is a sapphire and diamond pendant designed and created by Matt Khatib of M.K. Benatti Jewelers in Newburyport. It has a retail value of $3,500.
Esther Sayer, owner of the Inn Street Barbershop, will serve as this year’s auctioneer. Other items include mini iPads, weekend getaways, dinners, event and sports tickets and a commissioned portrait by renowned Newburyport artist Alan Bull.
Chef Michael Romano from Not Your Average Joe’s has created a special menu for the festivities, including tuna tartare, tapenade, duck a l’orange, braised short ribs and chocolate mousse for dessert.
The evening’s lead sponsor is The Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation. Other main sponsors include the Institution for Savings and the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.
IF YOU GO What: April in Paris Springtime Soiree When: Saturday, April 20, 6:30 p.m. Where: Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport How: $50 per person. Call 978-462-7336 or visit firehouse.org.