Library social a real rockin’ good time

While one normally associates the library with a place where peace and quiet in the pursuit of knowledge is highly-valued, rock ’n roll, dancing, and having good old-fashioned fun was the name of the game at the “Rockin’ for the Library” social here Saturday night.
The fundraiser netted nearly $13,000 for the “Building for the Future” campaign.
And while the “elimination raffle” may not have raised quite as much as hoped, few could argue those who came out Saturday didn’t have a blast at the Memorial Sports Centre auditorium.
“It was a good time. The band certainly was good, the costumes added to the evening,” said Mark Kowalchuk, chairman of the “Building for the Future” campaign.
“We had positive, positive feedback from nearly everybody,” he added. “The draw went off without a hitch. A lot of people were disappointed they didn’t win, but I guess that’s the way it is with any raffle.
“We certainly sent home some great prizes to people.”
The event drew about 230 people of all ages—many of whom were dressed in letterman sweaters, poodle skirts, and leather jackets from the ’50s and ready to dance to the rock ’n roll music of the “Sensational Hot Rods,” who played three high-energy sets.
“I thought it was a great time and the band was just fantastic. Everybody wanted to get up and dance,” noted Alan Zucchiatti, who, like many others in attendance Saturday night, was dressed for the occasion (in his case, he was in “greaser” mode).
“The band was very professional. They played long sets and even changed costumes three times during the night,” he added. “The band was great. The munchies were good.
“We had a really good time.”
“I thought it was fabulous,” said Frank DeBenedet, who attended with several members of his family. “I credit everybody that took part in getting the event off the ground, especially Mark and [fellow organizer] Diane Maxey.
“The musicians were fantastic,” he added. “I really, really enjoyed the evening. If they had it again, with that band again, I would definitely go again.
“I had a great time.”
“There was certainly just enough room for the people that were there,” said Kowalchuk. “It was just like the old high school dance, with people crowded together on the dance floor.
“I was surprised by the number of people who had hoarse throats Sunday from singing songs at the top of their lungs all night Saturday.”
Kowalchuk added the band “really enjoyed themselves,” and repeatedly commented on the hospitality they received here in Fort Frances.
“‘Marilyn’ had a great time at the event,” laughed chief librarian Margaret Sedgwick, who was dressed as ’50s starlet Marilyn Monroe on Saturday night.
“We heard so many wonderful comments from people—that they had a wonderful time, that the band was truly ‘sensational,’ that the food was great, and the draw itself went really, really smoothly,” she added.
“Sherree and Chris Denby and the Rogozinskis did a marvelous job with that,” Sedgwick stressed. “That wasn’t easy—they had developed a [computer] program and it was very much fine-tuned.
“We truly appreciated their efforts.”
“I was having a wonderful time. Although I hadn’t been feeling well and thought I wouldn’t last the whole evening, I did because I was having so much fun,” said library board chair Joyce Cunningham.
“We were very pleased with it,” she added. “From the feedback that we received, the people that were there thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We had very good comments about the music, about the food.
“And we must say that the computer program Sherree Denby designed for us made the ‘elimination raffle’ very understandable and exciting for people to watch as the names came up on the screen.”
The social was built around the “elimination raffle,” which saw more than 660 tickets drawn throughout the evening to give away 20 prizes.
Each ticket was drawn, the ticket entered into a computer, and the name of the respective ticket-holder was projected onto the auditorium wall for everyone to see.
Every 33rd ticket drawn was a winner.
The prizes and winners were:
•$10,000 cash—Norman Wood;
•$7,000 cash—Patty Christian;
•$3,000 cash—Telford Advent;
•32” Sharp LCD TV—Bev and Bogdan Fraczkiewicz;
•17” laptop computer—Linda Hamilton;
•20” Gold Chain—Rozan Shearer;
•Leather recliner—Stan and Julie Tinkess;
•One-year membership at Curves Fitness—Nathan Kempf;
•Home theatre system—Adam Scott;
•GPS—Jon Yellowega;
•Landscaping package—Bonnie Turriff;
•Patio furniture—David Cleaveley;
•Connie Cuthbertson prints—Joanne Darrah;
•Gourmet dinner for four—Danielle Robinson;
•Digital camera—Michelle Cain;
•Nintendo Wii system—Janice Henderson;
•Horo freestyle bike—Rose Bird;
•BBQ—Alexis Norris;
•three-month membership at Energy Fitness—Mark Nagant; and
•Wine chiller—J. Rajala.
A total of 1,000 tickets were for sale.
Kowalchuk said the event showed the library campaign has its supporters, pointing out some people there said they were out Saturday night to enjoy the band, but were seriously thinking about dropping by the library and making a donation soon.
“We were looking around and commenting that if everybody here donated $200 a year for five years, we’d be done. The fundraising effort would be finished,” he added.
He did note a couple came up to him Saturday evening to discuss “a sizable donation,” the details of which will be worked out in the near future.
The event also was attended by numerous local sponsors, including representatives from its major sponsor, Bell Canada.
“As a Bell employee and local member of this community, I’m proud to work for a company that encourages my involvement in my hometown, and provide me opportunities to contribute to the community,” said John McEvoy, local community affairs rep for Bell Canada.
“From Bell’s perspective, it’s really important that we be relevant to each community,” agreed Elaine Graydon, manager of community affairs for Bell, who was visiting here from Thunder Bay.
“Each community is individual, and what’s important to Fort Frances may not be important for another community, so community affairs and Bell is really focused on doing what they can to be important and relevant to each community.”
Last year, for instance, Graydon said Bell supported the Riverside Foundation for Health Care’s “Just Imagine” campaign.
“Whatever is important to each community, that’s what we like to get involved in,” she noted.
“The library is ‘building for the future,’ and that’s something we would like to be involved in—the future of the community,” echoed McEvoy.
Both McEvoy and Graydon noted they were having a blast at Saturday’s fundraiser. “It’s really a lot of fun. The band is awesome,” said Graydon.
The party also included a hula-hoop contest, spot dance, an hors d’oeuvres buffet, and prizes for those who come dressed in the best ’50s costume, and other attendance and door prizes.
The event lasted well into the night, with the last of the party-goers not leaving until about 1 a.m. (not counting organizers, who didn’t get to leave until 2 a.m.)
As for future fundraising, Kowalchuk said the campaign is far from over. And while it’s too early to talk about details, plans are afoot for more fundraisers prior to the sod-turning at the new library site in May.
The “Building for the Future” campaign is moving along, with proceeds from Saturday’s fundraiser bringing the total to $520,000. The campaign goal is $750,000.
Those who want to donate to the campaign should call the library at 274-9879 or drop by in person to get a pledge card.
Payment options—like Mastercard, VISA, or automatic deductions from your paycheque—are available.
All donations over $25 will be issued a tax receipt.