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Good times for all aboard the USS Bonne Terre

BONNE TERRE — The recent Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce fund-raiser has been deemed a huge success.

The fund-raiser brought in $16,900 for the chamber. About 190 people attended the Oct. 16 dinner auction, which is the chamber’s only annual fund-raiser.

“We always set a goal of $15,000 and we exceeded it,” said Tina Miller, an organizer of the event. “I was excited.”

Diane Leftridge, executive director of the chamber, said as far as the dollar amount, it was the second largest fund-raiser.

The only major problem was they were running out of room in Heritage Hall.

“It was the largest crowd we ever had,” she said.

As of that day, 187 people had signed up, but even more showed up.

Chamber President Donna Jean Weber said it was “a full house” but everyone was extremely kind about the crowded conditions. She believes that is because they had a fun theme that set the mood.

“The committee worked extremely hard,” she said. “Tina worked above and beyond … to make sure it was something new and exciting.”

This year Heritage Hall was transformed into the USS Bonne Terre, which “made stops” in Mexico, the Bahamas, Brazil and Jamaica. On the “ship,” they served a variety of foods including boiled shrimp, tortillas, Polynesian chicken breast, roasted pork loin and cobblers.

Guests were instructed to wear casual clothing. Miller said some of the “passengers” showed up wearing Hawaiian shirts, hats, dreadlocks and shorts.

She was glad business people got to socialize with each other in a relaxed atmosphere.

“It was a chance to meet people,” she said.

Each person was welcomed to the “ship” and given a lei to wear.

Paul Williams was the emcee. Howard Wood was selected to be the captain of the USS Bonne Terre.

She said they have received compliments on how good the food prepared by Plank Road Inn was and how the decorations looked. The organizers tried to make every table different so that it would be more colorful and fun.

In addition to the regular fund-raiser, the chamber asked people to donate to a Shepard House maintenance fund in memory of Joe Layden, a chamber member and active member of the community who died this year. About $600 was raised for that fund.

Miller said her committee met Thursday night to discuss what they could have done to make it even better. They also will start coming up with ideas for next year’s fund-raiser.

“We already have ideas,” Miller admitted. “My sisters and I have been talking.”

The next two events will be the 25th annual Christmas parade on Dec. 6 and a blood drive on Dec. 15. During November, the chamber will collect scarves, hats, gloves and coats for students who need them at Bonne Terre Elementary.

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