Organizers behind a socially distanced waterfront party next month are expecting a good turnout as COVID-19 restrictions ease amid rising vaccination rates and low case counts.
“I think people are ready for an in-person event,” said Marie Marcy-Smids about the upcoming It’s Five O’Clock Dockside Caribbean-themed gala at Sarnia Bay Marina and Alternate Grounds Dockside Aug. 21.
“We feel that it’s important to have an event like this that’s community oriented and a fun event,” she said of the gala held by the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton.
In 2019, the inaugural Jimmy Buffet-themed incarnation raised $30,000 for Alzheimer Society programs including counselling, education and support for people with dementia and their families.
Year two, a mostly virtual version due to COVID-19 restrictions, raised $26,000.
Hopes are the third annual event that’s this year a mix of in-person outside gathering and take-out options for people who’d rather party at home – or on their boats in Sarnia Bay, Marcy-Smids said – will raise $40,000 for the organization that relies on fundraising for about 40 per cent of its $1.1-million budget.
The rest is government funded.
Parrot head costume contests, auctions and draws, along with a live band that may or may not perform on the restaurant’s roof are among the draws, Marcy-Smids said, noting about 75 to 100 of the 350 available tickets have sold so far.
“We have the entire dockside property, that includes the patio, their tent, and we also have the pavilion from the Sarnia Bay Marina,” she said.
“Between both of them we will probably be able to do 250 people altogether.”
Event organizers will observe social distancing and other public health regulations in effect at the time, Marcy-Smids said.
The number of clients the agency helps has held around 900 to 1,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic and visits have become more complicated and more frequent because of pandemic-caused disruption, she said.
“Dementia is a serious issue,” Marcy-Smids said. “A lot of our clients or their families come out to our events because it’s a release for people.
“And we’ve all been cooped up for a long time, so it’s nice to get out and to be around other people.”
The 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. event is one of the organization’s anchor fundraisers, along with the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s that in May raised $26,000 for the organization.
A 5,000-ticket Worn and Buff It lottery featuring a $50,000 custom kitchen renovation as the grand prize is ongoing and tickets will be available at the Dockside event. Prizes are drawn in January.
For It’s Five O’Clock Dockside information and tickets, visit eventbrite.com/e/its-five-oclock-dockside-tickets-161016628069.