LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A Belpre native has had the chance to spend several hours with a group of international elite.
Melissa Matthews Marote, who graduated from Belpre High School in 1989 and recently earned her doctorate as a counselor of education from Ohio University, and her husband David Marote attended the 60th anniversary diamond jubilee celebration of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council Venetian Masked Ball in the Pacific Palisades on Dec. 1.
"It was just an amazing event to be a part of," said Melissa, who moved to Southern California in early 2008 to be with her husband, a native to the area. "I doubt we will ever do something like that again because it was so special and different from anything else we have ever done."
Melissa Matthews Marote, a Belpre native, poses with actor, comedian and international political activist Eddie Izzard on Dec. 1 during The Los Angeles World Affairs Council Venetian Masked Ball in the Pacific Palisades. Marote has lived in the Los Angeles area for almost five years after living in the Mid-Ohio Valley for more than three decades.
A reason Marote was so excited to attend was the special guest was actor, comedian and international political activist Eddie Izzard.
Among the photos Marote has posted online from the evening for friends and family to enjoy is one of her in the mask she bought for the event with Izzard, both smiling.
"He is the one who took that picture of us - he held his arm out to get both of us in the shot and it came out very well," Marote said. "I'm really happy with it."
Marote said that while Izzard was the only recognizable celebrity in attendance, she met many international consorts to countries such as Ireland, Italy and England.
"It was really interesting to talk to all of these people and learn not only about our country, but others around the globe," Marote said.
Not only was Izzard the featured guest, but those in attendance also heard from Renee Montagne, co-host of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and were entertained by Studio Zanni, a traditional Venetian commedia dell'Arte troupe and the Susie Hansen Latin Band.
This fundraiser benefited the organization's mission to educate Americans about foreign affairs and enhance the international standing of the city of Los Angeles.
The council is Southern California's largest public affairs forum for global issues. Since its founding 60 years ago, it has hosted eight U.S. presidents, 250 foreign heads of state and numerous influential international figures.
To attend the black tie masquerade ball, which was held in the affluent Riviera Country Club, the tickets cost $350 per plate, not including the cost of the suit, gown and Venetian-style masks. Marote said she and her husband were able to enjoy the evening on a small budget.
"I won the tickets, which saved us a lot of money," she said. "I am a member of the local National Public Radio station and was driving home one day a few weeks ago when they announced that the first five members to call would get tickets to this event."
Marote said she was surprised to have been the second caller and soon set about to find the right clothes for her and her husband.
"He was easy, just got a suit," she said. "Mine was a little more difficult because I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I'd wear once."
Her black satin gown was a thrift store find for $8.
"The dry cleaning bill of almost $15 was almost double what I paid for the dress, but it worked great and we had such a great time."