Some people called it the best party of the year when more than 300 people turned out for the annual Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce Pianos for a Purpose at the Eagles Hall, held this past Saturday, Jan. 27.
The dinner and music show is a community benefit event where the Chamber shares the proceeds with a local nonprofit project that will benefit the community.
Chamber President Greg Myers got a huge round of applause when he announced that the Historic First Baptist Church restoration committee was selected to share the proceeds of the 2018 benefit.
The committee is conducting a fundraising campaign to elevate the 1874 church building at 421 S. First St., which has flooded twice since 2015, above the flood plain.
The Rev. Jim Perkins, Historic First Baptist pastor, was asked to offer a blessing to the meal prepared by the Eagles kitchen crew. The Rev. Perkins asked the “Almighty to bestow blessing on us as a people,” and asked the patrons in “this room of plenty” to remember the hungry and the homeless.
As patrons lined up for the meal prepared by the Eagles kitchen crew, the evening’s entertainment began.
Philip “Spanky” Manaois and Rick Kilian returned with their dueling pianos, pounding out three hours of music. Adding to their own nostalgic and rock numbers, the singing pianists accompanied a stream of partygoers who took to the stage to sing.
Tabletop applications allowed partygoers to sign up their friends to perform. Patrons also could buy a string of beads to show that they did not want to perform, but many revelers were willing to be part of the show.
The standout star in the group was Alderman Andy Nemeth, who belted out the 1992 hit song, rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” as former Alderman Heather Filley served as backup singer. Nemeth said it was the only song to which he knew all the words.
As pianists and partygoers sang, organizers roamed the room waving red and yellow tickets, reminding patrons that this was a benefit after all. Supporters could buy one, six or an arm span of tickets.
Patrons also were invited to have commemorative photos snapped by Ann Michelle, who set up a photography studio on the small stage at the west end of the room.
A table at one end of the room was filled with desserts for sale that could be cut and eaten during the evening or taken home.
Lottery tickets offered a chance at silent auction items set up at the end of the stage, which included local history books, cookbooks, a basket of booze and the perennial scratch-off lottery board that could bring $1 million to the one-in-a-trillion chance scratcher.
A stream of colorful banners above the stage identified the businesses and occasional candidates who joined the Chamber to sponsor the event.
“We had lots of help from the community,” Myers said. “All in all it was a great party.”