NEW PORT RICHEY — If you were in New Port Richey the final Friday of July and you weren’t a guest at Spartan Manor, then you missed one of the hottest social events of the season.
That’s because the Community Service Council of West Pasco held its 2014 fundraiser event, Bachelors, Baskets and Service Auction, with about 300 guests.
People attending the 12-year-old event included everyone from small business leaders like Josephine Carmellengo of Pure Romance to politicians like state Rep. Amanda Hickman Murphy, D-New Port Richey.
The evening began as bachelors and guests mingled.
At 7 p.m. on the dot, CSC President Gail Armstrong and Event Chair Marcia Arnold introduced themselves and their sponsors to the crowd of fashionably attired ladies and a few gentlemen before announcing the night’s highlight entertainment, simply titled, Special Performance in various fliers.
Two men dressed in firemen’s costumes hit the runway to the loud, heavy beat of drums and electric guitars. They proceeded to remove much of the costumes and dance throughout the audience, which received them with screams of cheer and happy laughter. They danced through three to five songs before exiting to roaring applause.
Auctions followed as the bachelors paraded up and down the runway, as speakers talked about their best qualities and described the date that would be included for the highest bidder.
Winners of such dates could expect dinner at legendary Ybor City Italian Eatery, Carmine’s followed by a concert, a kayaking excursion followed by lunch and a cruise, and many other packages.
One bachelor on the block, Travis Meares, general manager of Meares Plumbing in Hudson, said, “I’ve done it one year previously, had a good time on my date and think the event is pretty fantastic.”
The bachelors also were assigned to an escort who helped to introduce them to women at various tables before the entertainment and bidding process began.
Escort Britany Arnold, the daughter of event organizer Marcia Arnold, said: “This is my third year. The crowd and everything is really fun. It keeps getting better and better.”
She recalled that “last year one of the ladies married her bachelor.”
Sponsors were: attorney Scott McPherson; REEL Art; Suncoast Clinical Research; Puppy Love Valet; Bayada Home Care; Trinity Rotary Club; Medical Center of Trinity and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point; Sunshine Christian Homes; Right at Home; Minuteman Press of New Port Richey; Jennifer Gardens Assisted Living Senior Residence; attorney Barbara Epstein; Pontliz Asset Advisors; Family Eye Care Center; Horizon Massage Therapy; Trinity Title of Pasco; Castriota Chevrolet and Roofhuggers.
Last year’s proceeds enabled CSC to provide a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of residents in need on Thanksgiving day. The group also sponsored a World War II veteran’s Honor Flight visit to the Memorial in Washington, D.C. CSC provided yard work for the lawn at the home of a local senior.
In addition, CSC had $7,000 in scholarship funds for local high school seniors. The council donated more than $5,000 to several local nonprofit groups, such as Wheelchairs 4 Kids, Sertoma Speech and Hearing, Pasco Kids First and homeless shelter ROPE Center.
Marcia Arnold said she had “a great committee that worked very hard with me for three months and, push comes to shove, we pulled it all together.”
The money the Bachelors, Baskets and Service Auction raises goes to area nonprofit groups such as the PACE Center for Girls, the RAP House runaway shelter, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, the Cancer Society and scholarships for children in New Port Richey, Arnold said.
“This event has a huge following because they know we’re going to bring something new every year,” she said.