Red Cross takes guests on a sentimental journey back to the 1940’s

VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach Country Club went retro Saturday night, transformed into a 1940s-style dinner club for An Affair to Remember – In the Mood at the Copacabana, to benefit the American Red Cross North Treasure Coast Chapter.  Costumed characters of the era greeted guests at the door, as “cigarette girls” milled about selling chances to some fabulous raffle prizes.

A pre-dinner show took the place of the usual socializing hour.  Hors d’oeuvres were passed family-style at the tables, as a host of entertainers recreated the music, dancing and entertainment of the 1940’s.  Harkening back to the golden age of radio, Treasure & Space Coast Radio’s Hamp Elliott introduced the performers, ‘broadcasting live’ from the Copacabana.

A relative newcomer to Vero Beach, Sandy Singer had been an active volunteer with the Red Cross in Martin County, and has continued her relationship with the organization here as well.  She was enlisted as the event’s entertainment chairperson and had a lineup with acts that included the Andrew Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Kate Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnez and swing dancers.  And, in a skit following dinner, the performers all got together to rescue a kidnaped Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.

A number of the guests had also gotten into the spirit of the theme, donning apparel of the era such as netted hats and fedoras.  Bill and Nancy Curtis were looking particularly stylish; he in a dashing white tuxedo, and she in a jaunty black and red hat embellished with white feathers.

Many of the volunteers who work with the Red Cross do so because of personal experiences, including co-chair Dora Thorne, who became involved after the 2004 hurricanes.

“I was not prepared and they helped our family with meals at the high school. They were so giving and I wanted to give back,” said Thorne, who now serves as the North Treasure Coast chapter’s board secretary.

Her co-chair Brooke Odom stressed how very local the need is for assistance.

“It’s more than CPR and the big Red Cross.  It touches so many people in this area,” said Odom.  “Last year, they saved 209 families with things like house fires and other emergencies.  The Red Cross gives food and shelter and cares for people immediately following a disaster.  It has people around the clock, mostly volunteers.  I was inspired by the giving parts of our community and wanted to be a part of it.”

At each table setting, champagne flutes filled with confetti and candies, also held the winning tickets for an assortment of great door prizes.  And the glasses would come in handy later on, as departing guests left with goodie bags that included, among other things, a split of champagne.

Dancing to the Paul Hubbell Band followed an epicurean dinner with red snapper or fillet mignon and a decadent dessert bar filled with luscious treats.

“The farther away we get from 2004, the less people remember what it was like and what they had to do to prepare,” said Sharon Rayner, Director of Emergency Services for Indian River and St. Lucie Counties, adding that there is always a need for disaster responder volunteers.  “The message we try to get out each spring is that people need to be able to be prepared for five days.” {igallery 336}

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