BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — It may be a little late to say “Merry Christmas”, but according to one organization, just because the holiday is in your name doesn’t mean you need to quit once it ends. In fact, the Bismarck-based group Capital City Christmas (CCC) keeps its events rolling right into 2023.

Capital City Christmas has been operating in our community for four years and hosts three major events in December. The first of these takes place directly during the Christmas season, with a Breakfast with Santa event and a Tree Lighting kicking off major holiday celebrations in town. But their big blowout event is the New Year’s Eve Gala — preparing activities and arts around the state for the year with a massive fundraiser than brings some of the biggest figures in Bismarck together under one roof for an evening of live music, games, and fine dining.

But there’s a much more important purpose to these events than just end-of-year revelry: they’re all for a good cause. Every event CCC puts on helps give money to support the cultural side of Bismarck, and the Gala in particular has quickly become a big-ticket event for fundraising.

“The first year, we were able to grant out $30,000 to different arts, humanity, and cultural programs throughout Bismarck and Mandan, and over the past years we’ve been able to raise over $40,000,” explains Julie Jeske, a chairperson with Capital City Christmas.

As for where this money, goes, the CCC organization intends to spread it across multiple groups throughout the BisMan area.

” It really varies,” explains Jeske. “In 2019, we provided funding for the Marquee at the Bismarck Event Center with the three beautiful panels that support the arts. We’re sponsoring a house with Rebuilding Together in 2023, and we’ve also given money to Bismarck Public Schools with their band programs.”

Before and during the main events, attendees to the gala were treated to a series of choice dishes from around the world. Individual catering lines, each pertaining to a different genre of food (including North American, Asian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern). Small portions of dishes ranging from falafel to braised pork belly, New York Strip, and meatloaf sliders were available to sample, and the meal was complemented by a selection of wine, a cash bar, and free samples from Stonehome Brewing Company.

The most unique feature of the gala’s food and beverage options was Stonehome’s In Wit The New Year — a special Belgian Ale infused with Blood Orange. The first batch of this wheat brew was brewed at an earlier instance of the New Year’s Eve Gala in conjunction with previous Bismarck mayor Steve Bakken, who served from 2018-2022. And this was no coincidence: Bakken himself, also the founder of CCC, was a guest of honor at the event and was happy to speak with KX about the importance of events like the gala to the Bismarck community.

“One of the first things I was looking at when I was first elected as mayor of Bismarck was that we didn’t have a lot of events over the holidays. The Christmas lights, the Christmas tree, the events that this event supports… we just didn’t have that. When we looked at the tax and funding situation for arts and funding situation, they weren’t a place for tax dollars, but through private events, we could help them flourish.”

Bakken wasn’t the only other former Mayor at the event, either: Bill Sorensen (1990-2002) was also present, acting as an event emcee and performing card tricks. Live music from Rift accentuated the entire evening and only helped build the enthusiasm of the guests for the main event.

After some time sampling the culinary delights of the world, the charity games and fundraisers began, with a live auction adding to the silent one present throughout most of the evening. The rewards here were far more popular, however — and far more valuable. Some of the prizes auctioned off included a motorcycle, a baby stroller, and photo session, and a diamond necklace. A ‘heads-or-tails’ game was also hosted to determine who could take home a $400 cash prize.

The event concluded with more live music from Rift and a champagne toast at midnight, followed by a firework show outside the Bismarck Event Center. After this, many of the guests went home delighted, not only by the events of the evening but also by the fact that the organization was able to raise a huge amount for the arts and entertainment programs around North Dakota.

We’ve all got New Year’s Resolutions too to welcome the new year, and Bakken’s is one that we feel perfectly sums up that of those at the gala.

“I want to see this grow. Of course, I absolutely love Bismarck, and seeing it and the nonprofit events here flourish, whether it’s a backpack program or Sanford or Sleepy Hollow… to continue working with people and bringing them together for events like this to make Bismarck a better community, that’s my hope for the future.”

The Capitol City Christmas group intends to host their December events again in 2023, and KX looks forward to attending them once again. For more information on Capital City Christmas, visit their website here.