Fourth Ward School throwing a seven-month party |

Fourth Ward School throwing a seven-month party

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

The caretakers of the Historic Fourth Ward School in Virginia City needed a way to raise $50,000 to match a large donation. The best way to do that, they decided, was to throw a party – not just one party, but 30.

The Parties of the Year fundraiser began in May and will run through the final celebration Dec. 2. Along the way, those who take part can go on a sailplane, learn about history and geology, traverse Tahoe’s majestic spots or hunker down with tall glass of beer.

“We tried to offer a variety of things so that people would find something that they might normally do, but we offer them a little bit of pampering,” Barbara Mackey, executive director, said.

The tours include titles like “Fine Mining and Gourmet Dining” and “Yoga for Youngsters.” A particular favorite was “Wild About Wildflowers.”

“People really when ape over that one, it sold out fast,” Mackey said.

While many of the parties have already reached capacity, several upcoming events still have space available.

“A Walk on the Rim” party will run 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 19. The guided walking tour will take visitors around the Mount Rose Loop of the Tahoe Rim Trail past Galena Falls to Relay Peak.

Those participating will be served a picnic lunch before completing the 6.7-mile loop. The cost of the trip is $35 per person.

The following day brings the opportunity for a rare tour of a private home and a performance of chamber music at the “Sugarloaf Quartet on the Divide” party.

The event is 2-5 p.m. Aug. 20 at the historic stone house on the Divide, between Virginia City and Gold Hill.

“That house was brought up from Seven Mile Canyon stone by stone and reassembled. It’s privately owned, so this is a special chance to get to see inside,” Mackey said.

The party includes champagne punch and snacks, along with a performance by Squeek LaVake and her quartet. Cost is $75 per person.

Even though the parties vary in size and theme, all work toward achieving the same goal.

“It’s a way to advocate for the school and engage more people,” Mackey said. “The donor understands that at some point we won’t be able to get grants for the everyday maintenance of the building.”

The party program was created through a grant by the Nevada Arts Council, which provided consultants who designed the program.

Mackey said the funding will be used for maintenance and upkeep of the building, including painting the exterior.

“That’s the biggest ongoing cost – the paint,” he said. “People don’t realize that we can’t just slap a coat on there; to do one side, it’s so hard to reach that we have to use scaffolding.”

The series of parties culminates with a large gathering at the historic school Dec. 2 to share stories and photos of the season’s events. It will be free of charge.

If you go

What: Parties of the Year fundraiser for the Historic Fourth Ward School.

When: Various days through Dec. 2.

For more information: Go to, or call 847-0975 for reservations or more information.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.