CASEY: I was “crabbed” by the Roanoke Kiwanis Club. You could be next! | Local News

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For many, the Roanoke Kiwanis Club is a group of local benefactors who build playgrounds, clean up litter-strewn parks and award college scholarships to worthy high school graduates.

And these are not the only attributes of Kiwanians. Members of the 102-year-old Roanoke Chapter are also ardent tellers of the world’s worst jokes. They compete at Wednesday afternoon lunches, where loud moans are the most frequent sounds.

Interestingly, there is a devious side to the club’s operations that outsiders rarely see.

“Racket” is probably the best term for it – as in extortion racket. I am one of the recent victims. Kiwanis club president Clark Goodman showed up at my house one afternoon just over two weeks ago and carefully planted plastic red crabs all over our postage stamp lawn.

Predictably, my neighbors found the gag hilarious. My own reaction was quite grumpy. It’s because that afternoon I was going crazy trying to transcribe a long Zoom interview done in Russian, Ukrainian and English.

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Also, my wife and I were desperately trying to get to Richmond to see our second granddaughter, Aria Rose, while awaiting discharge from a neonatal intensive care unit. (She was born six weeks earlier on March 1.)

I didn’t even think of going after lawn crabs, given the circumstances. So that’s my poor excuse for a momentary lack of humor.

As a reporter, I couldn’t pay the $40 ransom to have the crabs immediately removed and placed on someone else’s lawn, which is how racketeering works. (I mean, have you checked the price of bread lately? Kroger brand rye is up 33% from $1.88 to $2.50.)

So the plastic crabs sat on the lawn for two full days, accompanied by the sign “I have crabs from the Roanoke Kiwanis Club.” As the neighbors giggled, I furiously negotiated with Kiwanian Steve McGraw, a friend who was into the prank.

One result is this column, on some upcoming events by Roanoke Kiwanis.

The big one is the annual Kiwanis pancakes and auction day at the Berglund Center. It’s May 7 and members are now selling tickets for $7 in advance (or $25 for five). This year’s fundraising goal is $60,000.

The KPAD, as club members call it, dates from 1996. It once stood in the basement showroom of the Berglund Center, which could be blocked off. But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the club to hastily reschedule breakfast outdoors as a drive-thru affair, to comply with social distancing guidelines. They did the same last year.

While those guidelines are quickly fading, the breakfast and silent auction remain outdoors — as it saves the club from having to pay rent for the civic center building. And it has improved fundraising results, said Ben Spiker, who chairs the 2022 fundraiser.

So the May 7 breakfast will be an outdoor drive-thru, and it may remain so for the foreseeable future. Approximately 150 volunteers will provide pancakes, coffee and other goodies that morning.

“We kind of miss the social aspect of having an in-person event,” Spiker said. “But the drive-thru has been a very effective way to do that. This improved our margins.

Breakfast is from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day. Tickets will also be available onsite, Spiker said.

Last year’s breakfast gross topped the $60,000 mark, likely because Kiwanians added a new fundraising program in 2021. Members ‘auctioned’ the Mill Mountain Star – which they naturally do not possess. Lionberger Construction Co. still paid $1,500 for it.

It generated so much interest and publicity that the club broke up the Mill Mountain Star Auctions in a separate event. It will perform at 7 p.m. on May 14 at the Twisted Track Brewpub, 523 Shenandoah Ave. NW (formerly Soaring Ridge).

Spiker said the club hopes to have some sort of zoom or online auction option in place by then, and there will be other items up for auction as well.

The following Saturday, May 21, is Melrose Spring Fun Day and Planting Festival. This takes place at 11 a.m. at Kiwanis Centennial Playground, 2502 Melrose Ave. NW A co-sponsor, Shiloh Baptist Church Men’s Ministry, will prepare a free grilled lunch for attendees.

The public is invited, and people will also put up hundreds of wildflowers that day. These will be the first plants in a pollinator garden for the adjacent (and future) Kiwanis Nature Park, organizer Cheri Hartman said.

Kiwanians raised and spent more than $400,000 on the 8,700 square foot park, and in 2020 installed it in a part of town where there had been few recreational opportunities.

(Just to give you an idea of ​​scale, Centennial Park is 50% larger than Smith Park along the Roanoke River Greenway near Wasena. It used to be Roanoke’s premier outdoor playground. )

Sports swings, slides, fake climbing rocks, large outdoor musical instruments, a few shaded spots, equipment for adults to practice on, and more. It is a useful and tangible example of the good work that Roanoke Kiwanians are doing in the community.

Consider this column my contribution to Kiwanis’ efforts — because I didn’t have $40 in cash to shell out after they littered my lawn with plastic red crabs.

Contact Subway Columnist Dan Casey at 981-3423 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter:

@dancaseysblog.

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