The 17th annual Crystal Ball with a vintage French circus theme will honor local Community Stars and the author of a prize-winning, best-selling book about the Delta on Jan. 21, 2017, at the Arena in Southaven.

Volunteers will transform the space into “Le Cirque Magnifique” complete with vintage 100-year-old autos, aerial silk artists, fireworks and more elements of a vintage, elegant circus.  The black-tie gala will include catered dinner, jazz, silent and live auctions, and live dance music from Party Planet. Guests will start their evening with complimentary front-door valet parking.

The Crystal Ball helps 400 nonprofit organizations and causes through the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, with an emphasis on education and health for children and youth. Tickets are $150 per person and are available for purchase at 662.449.5002 or

“The Crystal Ball has become the premier social event in Northwest Mississippi. We look forward to another wonderful evening, a few surprises, and appreciate the support from hundreds of people who make the gala such a success. We particularly look forward to honoring our first non-native of Mississippi. Richard Grant is an Englishman who moved from New York City to the Mississippi Delta, and portrayed Delta life magnificently,” said Crystal Ball chairman Scott Hollis. “Grant’s ‘Dispatches from Pluto’ is the most honest and accurate assessment of the Delta and Mississippi I have ever read. It’s also very, very funny.”

The Star of Hope honoree authored “Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta” about his move from New York city into a plantation home. With humor and keen insight, he observed what he calls “the most American part” of the USA. His experiences ranged from stepping into a fire ant bed to golf with Morgan Freeman, and he explores significant issues such as Quitman County school success, race relations and Parchman prison. The book has become a New York Times Best Seller and won the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize.

This author, journalist and television host now lives in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife and daughter, who was born in Mississippi. He currently writes for Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Garden & Gun, and several other publications.

Four local Community Stars will also be honored at the Crystal Ball in the categories of man, woman, business, and non-profit organization of the year.

In the live auction, the Crystal Ball will offer a day and night of golf, dinner and clubbing with Morgan Freeman, a Destin trip complete with direct air transportation and car rental, a week in a 17th century home in the Best City in the World, a private dinner with Richard Grant, and much more. More than a hundred additional items will fill the silent auction tables.

The Community Foundation manages 235 donor-established funds and has distributed $18.3 million to support more than 420 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation.  Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501.c.3 charitable organization. The Foundation serves Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Leflore, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Tunica counties.  A board of 19 volunteer civic leaders governs the Community Foundation.  Learn more about the Community Foundation at or call 662.449.5002.


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