Don’t Hold the Applause

Fishing for compliments was one of my mother’s seven deadly sins, and she passed along her aversion. So I cast a fishy eye at all the liking social media specialists urge on us. I’m not much more comfortable at events — from Major League Baseball to business booster meetings —where you’re told who to clap for, when and how loud.
    In my book, as in my mother’s, applause wants to rise spontaneously.
    When I feel like applauding, my hands are usually too full — and not with my smart phone — to bring them together.
    Like when I’m balancing lobster, champagne and chocolate at Rod ’n’ Reel Restaurant’s 30th annual Cancer Crusade Gala in Celebration of Life. Or cracking crabs and downing beer at Annapolis Rotary Club’s 66th annual Crab Feast.
    Knowing my approving hands will be otherwise occupied at the former August 4 and the latter August 5, I’m going to cheer now for those grand events that give us opportunity to do good while we’re having a good time.
    Scale is part of the reason I can’t help applauding for these two August occasions. They’re parties planned and executed on a scale that blows you away.
    With temperatures forecast in the 80s — getting good weather, says Gerald Donovan of Rod ’n’ Reel, is why WJLA weatherman Doug Hill is honorary chairman — 2,000 people could be partaking in this year’s Celebration of Life.
    Rod ’n’ Reel’s three chefs and 16 cooks don’t depend on a miracle to feed that number. After months of planning and ordering, they’ll be at work in the kitchen a full 20 hours before the Gala, preparing 3,000 oysters and 3,000 clams; 1,200 pounds of lobster; 1,000 pounds of shrimp; and 600 pounds of fresh fish. Plus commensurate poundage of meats and vegetables. Plus deep rows of 30 to 40 varieties of cake and pie — backed by a giant chocolate fountain and chocolate thimble cups of liqueur poured to order.
    Plus four live bands.
    And the hands-on help of dozens and dozens of volunteers, from the honorary chairpeople who raise the money to the charter boat captains who cook and serve the fish.
    Why would anyone go to that much trouble?
    Clearly, when you give parties — and that’s business as usual at Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa — you give parties.
    But beyond doing his thing, the reason, Donovan says, is “to eventually see cancer cured.”
    In 30 years, good times at the Gala have raised over $4 million toward both Maryland-based research for cures and easing the pain of the disease among Calvert Countians.
    For the Annapolis Rotarians, motivation is much the same. “For each of us, when you come to Rotary and feel the energy, you just enjoy participating in something so positive and powerful in its impact on our community,” says club president Bill Regan.
    Plus, these Rotarians like to throw a party. They’ve gotten pretty good at it in the 66 years since Phil Richbourg came up with the concept in 1946. This year’s feast is dedicated to Richbourg, who helped his fellow Rotarians improve on his bright idea until his death this year.
    Each year, close to 3,000 people crack into 500 bushels of crabs plus 3,400 ears of homegrown Maryland corn, 1,800 hot dogs, 150 pounds of barbecued beef (both donated by Adam’s the Place for Ribs), 130 gallons of vegetable crab soup and kegs and kegs of beer. More or less.
    The $60 in advance or the $75 at the gate you pay for that feast is magnified a thousandfold in good works. Typically 40 to 50 grants are made each year, in response to proposals. They range from $250 to $3,500 for community groups, projects and charities.
    Is that a winning formula or what?
    Come August 4 and 5, I’ll have my hands too full to do the clapping. The many people who deserve praise will have too much to do to slow down to receive it.
    So I’m clapping now for the Chesapeake neighbors who give us such good times and opportunity to aid in such good causes.

Sandra Olivetti Martin

Editor and publisher; [email protected]