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March Mania

Cruise dinner is major fundraiser for area YMCA

WORTHINGTON -- Every year, the Worthington Area YMCA strives to exceed the previous year's Cruise/Vacation Dinner fundraiser -- one of its major fundraisers in support of family and youth programs.

While the drawing for the vacation tickets will remain a highlight of this year's event, YMCA Executive Director Andy Johnson is enthusiastic about The Johnny Holm Band, the entertainment group invited for the 27th annual Cruise/Vacation Dinner on March 30.

"We've evolved over the years from having a low-key atmosphere to bringing in really good guest speakers," he explained. "Three years ago, we decided to go down the entertainment route."

Considered to be one of the most widely known and traveled bands in America, The Johnny Holm Band will perform a three-hour show at the end of the event.

"We're expecting a large crowd, some dancing and interaction with the entertainers," Johnson said.

The banquet will begin at 5 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction in the Minnesota West Community and Technical College gymnasium.

"We have a lot of good items this year, ranging from oil change coupons to autographed Minnesota Wild merchandise," Johnson said about the auction raised about $7,000 last year. "Local businesses really come forward to support the auction, so we recognize everyone who does that."

Steaks for the dinner at 6:30 p.m. are donated by Widboom Farms and will be prepared by the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen.

Hickory Lodge Bar and Grill will also provide catering services for the evening.

As the evening progresses, drawings for the highly sought-after cruise tickets will be during one of the two concert intermissions, Johnson said. The cruise vacation package is valued at $2,000. Additional giveaways are $200, $150, and $100 cash prizes.

"Typically we raise about $25,000 after expenses so we're hoping to be in that range again," he added. "Last year was our biggest year yet."

Monies raised from the banquet will provide overall programming support and financial assistance and scholarships that the YMCA are offers annually.

"It's not for one specific program or one group of people but our primary focus is on youth and family," Johnson stressed.

Johnson expects about 275 to 300 attendees at the event venue. The first 200 tickets sold will be eligible in the drawing for the cruise/vacation tickets.

"We're around the 160 mark, so anyone interested should get in touch with us sooner rather than later," said Johnson, explaining that those who choose not to attend may purchase tickets at a lower rate and still be considered for the drawing.

Tickets for the YMCA Cruise/Vacation Dinner are available at the Worthington Area YMCA -- DeGroot Family Center.

For more information, phone 376-6197.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.