The weekend before Thanksgiving, Open Arms of Minnesota was giving a lot of thanks.

Its Butterball fundraiser is a sought-after ticket, which this year might have had something to do with a performance by the Hold Steady. The sold-out bash at the Graves 601 in Minneapolis had an "Urban Playground" theme.

The now-biennial event was started by Dan Buettner, who is well-known for his work on "The Blue Zones."

"When I was at St. Thomas, there was a 'spring fling' with all of the cool people, and I never got invited," Buettner said. "I just revived it and I knew for sure I would be invited." Indeed, being a best-selling author and guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" has its perks.

For its 15th incarnation, this year's Butterball was especially poignant as Open Arms has been constructing a building in Minneapolis, set to open in spring 2010, that will allow it to triple the number of people with chronic illnesses to whom it gives prepared and delivered food. By the end of the party, Open Arms managed to reach the $8 million mark, just $100,000 short of its goal -- no easy feat during these trying economic times.

"Everyone gets it," said Kevin Winge, the executive director. "[Open Arms of Minnesota] is basic needs. It's nice to have success stories: We've had a couple who donated a million dollars and a 4-year-old girl who donated $5 from her piggy bank."

Between the music, the rock 'n' roll vibe, street-food appetizers (mini-hotdogs and pretzels) and successful fundraising, this Butterball was definitely not a turkey.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177