Musician Ezra Charles, a native of Beaumont and current resident of Houston, will be the featured entertainer at the Boogie Woogie Gala on Thursday night at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center. The gala is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Orange Depot, a local non-profit group which plans to convert the historic Orange Train Depot into a museum. COURTESY PHOTO

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

A night of fun and music benefiting a local non-profit group is running right on track.

The Boogie Woogie Train Gala will be held from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center, which is located at 11475 FM 1442 in Orange. Tickets for the gala, which benefits Friends of the Orange Depot, are $30 and only a few remain. Tickets can be purchased at Lookin’ Good Salon at 3711 n. 16th St. in Orange.

Proceeds from the Boogie Woogie Train Gala will toward the renovation of the Southern Pacific Depot on Green Avenue in Orange. The Friends of the Orange Depot is continuing its fundraising efforts to transform the depot in a museum and the gala is the latest event as the organization works towards its overall goal of $650,000.

According to Susan Quigley, chairperson of the Boogie Woogie Gala, a total of $450,000 is needed to begin converting the train depot into a museum.

“We can’t start construction until we have $450,000 in funds, but we should have that amount after the gala,” Quigley said. “We hope to begin construction in January, and, if all goes as planned, open the museum by summer.”

Approximately 35 tickets remain available for purchase for Thursday’s gala. Quigley said tickets must be presented at the door to gain entrance. Dress for the gala is “Sunday Best” and not formal.

“It looks like we are doing really good on working toward our goal,” she added. “We are very confident this will be a great event and everything will turn out wonderfully.”

The event promises to be a night to remember. The featured entertainer is the talented Ezra Charles, who will perform his one-man show of “boogie woogie” piano classics for the dancing pleasure of those in attendance.

Charles, who is known for his lively performances, is a native of Beaumont, and has performed in and around the Houston-area for many years.

According to a press release, Charles has retired from touring. However, music runs deep into his soul and he has created a new presentation known as “The Story of Boogie Woogie” which features numerous classic piano pieces which define boogie woogie. Charles also explains in how it was created and spread around the world, which makes for a memorable experience.

Charles premiered “The Story of Boogie Woogie” in March 2015 at Ovations Theater in Houston. The event sold out quickly and each subsequent performance in many other venues across the region has been to standing room audiences.

Along with Charles’ performance, guests will enjoy a variety of beverages and appetizers from Old Orange Cafe. The “co-chief conductors” of the event will be Colburn and Angie Hill McClelland, while the “chief auctioneer” will be Ron Cowling.

Guests will also be able to take part in a live auction featuring many beautiful and interesting items, such as Ludlow Diamond Filigree Earrings, a football autographed by Orange-native and Super Bowl champion Earl Thomas III, a fresh-flower arrangement for six months from J.Scott Hasty, a duck hunting trip for two, a wine tasting for 20, a framed original painting of the depot by local artist C. Delle Bates, four tickets to DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla., which includes accommodations, and much more.

“We have had so much support from the community and our sponsors,” said Rose Simar of the Friends of the Orange Depot. “Not only will we have a live auction, but there will be a silent auction and we will even have door prizes at the gala. It’s looking like it will be a great night.”