Partypalooza: Mad Max Masquerade Raises Roof for Roots

mad-max-1.jpgIf you’re looking for a fun party in Redmond, WA, home city of Microsoft, then Susan James is the person you want to see. James is the organizer of PartyPaloozaNW, which holds costume parties three to four times a year. Each event has an entertaining theme. When James took Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program earlier this year, she created a project to bring a serious side to the fun. When James’ friend Kumar Cunchala passed away unexpectedly due to heart failure last year at the age of 34, she and other of Cunchala’s friends were devasted. As a way of honoring him, she and PartyPaloozaNW decided to have their spring 2008 event also be a rundraiser for ROOTS, Rising Out of the Shadows, a homeless shelter for teens and young adults that was Cunchala’s favorite charity. The Redmond Reporter has more.

It’s Time to Dress up and Party, Mad Max Style

by Mary Steven Decker

Halloween doesn’t come often enough for Redmond resident Susan James and her pals from PartyPaloozaNW.

So they’ve started throwing themed costume parties three to four times a year and inviting “friends of friends.”

The next big bash is a “Mad Max: Beyond the Military Zone!” party inspired by Mel Gibson’s “Road Warrior/Mad Max” movie series. Guests are encouraged to dress in clothing with a “post-Apocalyptic, futuristic, cyberpunk, post-
nuclear, military, camouflage, GI Joe or survivalist” vibe, said James.

mad-max-2.jpgThe event starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, and takes place at The Sammamish Forest Manors Cabana, 2407 175th Ave. NE in Redmond. It’s open to the public, age 21 and older and will be a fundraiser for ROOTS (“Rising Out of the Shadows”), a homeless shelter for teens and young adults in Seattle’s University District. Tickets are $12 per person when purchased in advance or $15 per person at the door.

Why the quirky costumes?

James, who is a project manager and lead trainer for EED, Inc., a legal technology company in Kirkland, explained that “wearing costumes is a great icebreaker. When people are dressed up, they’ll be more likely to talk to one another. I’ve known groups of people who’ve descended upon bars dressed as Greeks or Romans or space aliens. It’s just fun and you end up talking to people who might not otherwise have approached you.”

This is the first time they’re tying a fundraiser to one of their costume parties, and they’re doing so in memory of Kumar Cunchala, a former Microsoft employee who passed away in 2007.

mad-max-3.jpg“We initially chose ROOTS as our cause because it was our friend Kumar Cunchala’s favorite charity,” said James. “Kumar was an amazing person who I met a few years ago through an online social networking group. He was a wonderful friend to me and many other people in the community and when he died unexpectedly last year of heart failure — he was 34 years old — we were devastated. It is my hope that through putting on this event and honoring Kumar by donating time and money to one of his favorite charities, that we will obtain some closure and peace over his passing.”

Also, after visiting ROOTS and attending a Homelessness 101 class, James and her friends were inspired to befriend the shelter. They have organized several clothing drives on its behalf and are asking “Mad Max” party guests to bring gently used coats, hats, gloves and blankets to donate.

PartyPaloozaNW has sponsored parties with pirate themes, vampire and vixen themes and stars/starlets themes. The age range of attendees is typically 25 through 45 years old, although anyone 21 or over is welcome, said James. She notes that there is a professional security team at the parties and that they’ve not had problems with unruly guests spoiling the fun.

For more information about PartyPaloozaNW or e-mail suz @ For more information about ROOTS, visit the ROOTS website.

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