If you’ve been to an elegant community event in La Crescent, there’s a good chance that Nancy Wally helped organize it.
Wally has been marshaling community and church events in town for the last 40-years, mostly while simultaneously running a daycare center out of her home on Fourth street in La Crescent.
“It’s not work for me as it might be for other people, it excites me,” said Wally recently, as Christmas music played in her kitchen. “I just really enjoy doing stuff like this.”
Wally was most recently recruited by the La Crescent Area Event Center to organize the The Last Hurrah New Year’s Eve party, hosted at the American Legion Post 595 in La Crescent. The proceeds of the event will go towards the construction of the new event center, which is estimated to cost around $4 million. $1.3 million has already been raised for the center, which is expected to be built by next spring.
Wally is taking reservations for the event, although tickets can also be picked up at the American Legion. The event will feature hors d’oeuvres, a wall of wine, silent auction, candy and dessert tables and music by DJ Travis Dean and local retro-rock band The Executives.
Wally said as of last Friday, the $40 seats at the back room tables were already sold out, but there were still $30 seats available.
She’s overseeing a committee of eight people to organize and decorate for the event, and last Friday had a list of 17 items to accomplish before the 31st. Among the items was to configure the wall of wine, which Wally said was compiled mostly from the personal collections donated by supporters of the event center.
Wally said that once the committee realized how expensive a caterer would be for the night, they decided to make all the hors d’oeuvres themselves. The committee also got help from a woman on the event center staff who’s husband makes birch tree garnishes, and will supply platters for each table at the party.
“We’re trying to make that room as elegant as we can. It’s going to be all in gold and glitter,” said Wally of plans to decorate the legion hall, which she admitted wasn’t the easiest space to sophisticate. “Once you start putting stuff up, you realize you can really transform a place.”
Wally said she first got involved in community event planning after her children were born. From serving on the Applefest board to devising her church’s annual gala event, Wally has transformed plenty of dull spaces into glamorous ones. Wally said one year for the gala, she had Classic Rock Products donate several rocks to line the entrance of the elementary school auditorium.
Like many area residents, Wally has fond memories from the legion hall, and her father-in-law used to bartend at the Post 595 building. The Last Great Hurrah will be one of the final events held at the hall. On New Year’s Day the hall will be open for drinks and a meat raffle, said Wally, and it will then remain open until Jan. 5.
Born and raised in La Crosse, Wally attended all three high schools in the city — after transferring to Logan from Aquinas, and then to Central when her parents moved to the south side. Wally met her husband, Jim, while attending Logan. Jim grew up in La Crescent before the high school was built, and therefore went to Logan. The two eventually married and moved to La Crescent, where they raised two children who are now in their 40s.
Wally said that her son now living in Appleton, takes after her in the way that he likes to plan community and charity events. Her daughter on the other hand, who lives with her two grandchildren just a block way, is not interested in community event organization at all.
“I don’t know where the heck I get it from,” said Wally about her parents not being involved with community event planning. “I just started doing it after we got married, and it’s kept me busy.”