Dolly Parton once said, “The way I see it, if you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” And put up with the rain, we did.
On Sept. 21, just minutes before the SPCA's biggest event of the year kicked off, the skies opened, and it began to rain. Some might even say it rained cats and dogs.
As the rain came down, the umbrellas went up, and the walkers walked on – 90 on two legs (and many more on four) tromped down the twilight- trail-turned-slippery-slope all for the good of the animals.
Kim Coleman, who won the prize for Biggest Team, brought 22 troopers with her, all bedecked in leis and grass skirts and sporting the message “Iwannawalkadoggie.”
The Junior SPCA kids took home the prize for most money raised by a team – nearly $3,000!
Defying the rule of never following a kid or pet act, Joya DiStefano won the big prize for most money raised by an individual. DiStefano brought in $3,070, all of which is earmarked for supplementing Aiken County low-cost spay and neuter surgeries through FOTAS/SNAP (Friends of the Animal Shelter/Spay Neuter Assistance Program).
Along with bragging rights, DiStefano took home a high-tech 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 from Whole House Audio and Video.
As the walk concluded, the rain continued with an astounding 300-plus in attendance at the party that followed in “Bark-a-rita-ville.”
Lo Down Brown played under the covered patio and poncho-clad partygoers darted from booth to booth sampling creative culinary treats and downing delectable drinks in the downpour.
Prizes were awarded as voted on by the partygoers in four categories.
Best Food went to “Breakfast at Tiffany's” Robyn Reilly and Cissie Sullivan for assorted breakfast-inspired petit fours.
Honorable mention went to Matt Miller and Erica Stacjer of Charleston for their braised pork and blue cheese sliders.
Best Drink was awarded to Kevin Staniszewski for Funky Love Punch, a coconut rum concoction which was part of GTI Transport's disco-themed booth.
Honorable mention went to Helen Faulk and Rachel Kepes of Charleston for 'Merican Apple Pie Shooters, a cinnamon spiced and whipped cream topped treat!
“Breakfast at Tiffany's” took first place in Best Theme with elegant decorations inspired by the Audrey Hepburn classic.
The famous blue gift bags surrounded silver trays of scrumptious petit fours and Peach Bellinis in tall champagne flutes.
A chandelier dangled in front of Cissie's hand-drawn New York skyline.
As if that weren't enough to cinch Best Theme for the ladies, a real-life Audrey Hepburn look-alike (Maya Galvan) greeted guests with a radiant smile and a glowing (faux!) cigarette and holder.
The Best Theme honorable mention went to Lori Cefus and Lisa Sommers for Lana's Luau, a grass-skirted booth complete with leis and dedicated to the late Lana Dyer, for whom Lana-PAW-looza was named.
Finally, Best Overall Booth and the winner of a mountain getaway provided by friends of the SPCA, Rod and Lisa Burch, went to Robyn and Cissie's runaway favorite“Breakfast at Tiffany's.”
Honorable mention went to Helen Faulk and Rachel Kepes' “'Merica! That's Why!” a booth that was draped in red, white, and blue and featured American iconography like Chuck Norris and Elvis.
Guests could even have their photo made in the seven-foot Statue of Liberty cut out while they enjoyed (what else?) gourmet topped mini hotdogs to go along with the apple pie shots.
Although the dance floor was a washout, kids beautifully decorated it earlier in the day, which also generated much needed funding for the SPCA.
In the 6- to 9-year-old age group, Madison Leslie was awarded first place.
Jillian Boyd took home the prize for the 10- to 13-year-old category, and Cody Kennedy won for 14- to 18-year-olds.
Winners of this competition took home a trophy, a Hobby Lobby gift card, and a free pizza from Little Caesars.
The event was well received despite the rain, raising nearly $30,000 for homeless pets in the CSRA.
We are thankful (and amazed!) at the support from our community – a community far from fair-weather friends!
So, to the donors, the walkers, the cooks, the volunteers, the ticket holders, the artists, and the sponsors, we say “THANK YOU!”
And for those of you who braved the rain and can't wait to do it again, mark your calendar for October 11, 2014! Need I say it? RAIN OR SHINE!
A graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, Chrissey Miller has a bachelor's degree in fine arts. Miller began work at the SPCA in January 2010 as volunteer coordinator. She is thrilled to be able to mesh her creative passion and sales experience together as development director, in charge of programming, fundraising, events and grant-writing. Miller and her husband David live in Aiken with their children, Blair and Gracey; their adopted tri-pawed dog, Zipper and adopted Dogue de Bordeaux/Lab mix, Django.