LIMA — The crowd, some arrayed in masks and beads, cheered on the band at Allen County Memorial Hall on Saturday night during the eigth annual Mardi Gras fundraiser to benefit the west-central Ohio chapter of the American Red Cross.
For executive director David Collins, this event is essential to helping the local American Red Cross chapter fulfill its mission.
“This is one of our two biggest fundraisers of the year,” he said. “The community is really good about reaching out and helping.”
Saturday’s event will help fund two specific services provided by the Red Cross.
“The first is the Disaster Relief program for Allen County, which deals a lot with single-family fires,” Collins said. “The second is our Service to Armed Forces program, and that facilitates emergency communication between service members and their families. So they’re two very important programs.”
This event has featured entertainment from the Cincinnati-based band The Menus in recent years, a very popular band in the region. The band features a unique style playing classic rock and pop hits.
“One nice thing about the Menus coming back to town is that they have a very strong following, so inviting them back year to year, we know what kind of response they can bring,” Collins said.
While response to this event was slow at first when it came to ticket sales, Collins still expected this event to match fund totals from previous years.
“I think we’re on par for what we did last year,” Collins said. “It started out kind of slow, but it’s really picked up in the last couple of weeks. One thing about this band is that it brings in a lot of walk-ins, so I think we’ll get a lot of those tonight, too.”
Last year’s total was between $15,000 and $20,000, according to Collins, a major haul for both of the programs set to benefit from Saturday’s event.
While the theme for the evening was Mardi Gras, Collins said that it was a very casual atmosphere, with participants free to dress the part or not.
“It’s a good time for everybody,” Collins said. “It’s very laid back. People can do the Mardi Gras thing if they want to, but there’s no requirement to dress up or anything. It’s a casual crowd with a great band, so it makes for a great time.”