On Saturday, May 6, over 250 festive islanders attended Talk Derby to Me at Sunset Grille to celebrate the 143rd Kentucky Derby. More than $20,000 was raised for the Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS). For $500, V.I.P. guestsenjoyed early V.I.P. seating, admission for 4, a pre-party with appetizers, two drinks per person, a Kentucky Derbystyle buffet, and a horse in the race to cheer for. Starting at 4 PM, the general admission crowd joined the party and were greeted with mint juleps.
“This event wouldn’t have been possible without the Sunset Grille and their staff,” thanked Joan Pernice, vice president MICMS Board.
As the colorful crowd participated in the pre-Derby festivities, fashions were all the rage, andprizes were awarded to the “most fashionable” and “crazy” hats and pants. Many attendees placed bids on boards and silent auction items, posed for photos, and enjoyed the fabulous Derby specialties.
George Abounader, Marco Island Charter Middle School principal, tooka moment to give heartfelt thanks to assistant principal and test coordinator, Maureen Marcoux. “We are so appreciative to Maureen for her 19 years of service to the middle school. She has shown a level of professionalism and loyalty during the entire life of the school,” explained Principal Abounader, as he presented her with an orchid.
The crowd settled down just in time for “My Old Kentucky Home” and waited in anticipation as the horses were led to thestarting gate. The packed restaurant erupted with cheers as the horses raced for a furious 2 minutes 3.9 seconds. Irish War Cry and Always Dreaming gave an impressive two-horse race in the end where Always Dreaming came out as the winner.
“We are regulars here at the Sunset Grille. We had no idea such a special event was going on here today. We simply came ready for the Derby. Sadly, my horse didn’t win, but we are having agreat time,” remarked Pat Di- Lillo, on vacation from Massachusetts. Bestie, Paula Avitabile continued, “We are so glad we get to support the local middle school today. It really makes us feel part of the community.”
The event concluded with many prizes being awarded and winning bids for the silent auction items.