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Picnic draws record crowd

For the first time in its history, the Beach, Blues and Bar-B-Que event was sold out.

The annual fundraiser to benefit the Samaritan Center saw more than 370 people pass through the doors of the Skaneateles Country Club on Sunday evening. The party had been moved indoors due to inclement weather making the Point a muddy mess.

"We're very happy to have this kind of support," said Ann Ferro, development director for the Samaritan Center.

With the ever-expanding number of people planning to attend the party, Ferro said Dinosaur Bar-B-Que "very graciously donated food," enough to feed the crowds. The Skaneateles Country Club also pulled out all the stops to help with parking and had the staff help by getting the club ready for the fundraiser.

Despite moving the party inside, people came out for one reason -- to help the Samaritan Center.

"Every single dollar goes to the purchase, preparation and service of food," Ferro said. "Last year we served more than 86,000 meals. This year we'll top 100,000. ... There's no shortage of people who are hungry, unfortunately."

Ferro, a Marcellus resident, had come up with the idea for the event several years ago and each year it has grown exponentially.

As in years past, honorary chairpersons welcomed guests to the picnic. This year's honorary chairpeople were Frank and Peg Bersani and Tom Bersani and his wife Joan Christy.

While event chairman Larry Palmieri greeted guests as they waited in line for last minute tickets or waited to pick up their auction numbers, Tom Bersani stood just inside the club's double doors giving a second round of greetings.

"Larry is an old friend of mine," Bersani said. "Through him I was inspired to volunteer there [the Samaritan Center]. I found it to be a very rewarding experience."

Ironically, Bersani began talking to his dad, Frank, about the experience he had volunteering only to find out that many years prior, Frank had done the same, he said.

"There are a lot of reasons why people can't feed themselves," Bersani said.

However, the Samaritan Center has done an extremely good job at keeping the community fed as the volunteers zero in on 100,000 meals.

Since volunteering for the center seemed to be a family trend or tradition, Palmieri thought naming the two Bersani couples as honorary chairpersons was the perfect fit.

"I'm very honored to be asked to be one of the co-chairs," Bersani said.

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