Rotary Crab Feast offers fun, and funds for worthy causes


July 24, 2000|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"IN MANY FIRES, you really can't see anything," said Capt. Michael Lonergan of the Annapolis Fire Department. "You have to work almost by feel."

That's about to change. Any day now, the department will take delivery of a thermal imager, a video device that will permit firefighters to "see" through the smoke of a fire.

"It's a lifesaver," said Chief Edward P. Sherlock. "It's going to give us a tremendous tool, a real asset to the department.

"A firefighter going inside a burning building will have the camera, and the commander at the command post will be able to see the image the firefighter sees. It allows us to see through the smoke and the mist, so we'll be able to find trapped people or firefighters."

Sherlock said the imager was on his list of budget requests, one of those items that he hoped would survive the inevitable cuts. Instead, a guardian angel or two interceded and money was found to pay for it.

The money, $21,000 to be precise, came out of last year's Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast. This year's feast, the 55th, will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Tickets are $35 for adults, $12 for children 6 to 12, and free for those who are younger.

Proceeds from ticket sales, a cash raffle and silent auction are donated by the Rotary to charities and nonprofits in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. The first feast netted about $150. Last year's gifts exceeded $30,000. Donations over the years are approaching the half-million-dollar mark

"The feast includes all the jumbo No. 1 steamed crabs you can eat," said Rotary spokesman Jeff Holland, "plus Maryland vegetable crab soup, sweet Maryland corn on the cob, beef barbecue sandwiches, all-American hot dogs, creamy coleslaw, draft beer and sodas."

Despite the efforts of Rotary volunteers, backups at some queues can occur.

Holland recommends buying tickets in advance. Tickets are available from any Rotary member or by calling ticket chairwoman Heather Goldman at 443-482-9424.

The silent auction tent will include bargains on bed-and-breakfasts, boat rides, even stock portfolios. A commemorative T-shirt, baked goods and the Rotary's "Crab Feast Mania, A Cookbook for Crab Lovers" will be on sale.

Sherlock and Lonergan suspect that the guardian angels were Lowell Becker, former Annapolis Rotary president, and Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson, a Rotarian. The Rotary Foundation Grants Disbursements Committee, led by Cynthia McBride, made what it calls a "signature" grant to the firefighters.

Other recipients included such diverse organizations as the Salvation Army, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and YWCA.

Lonergan said the imager, called a Cairns Viper, can detect a human form in smoke and darkness, producing a black-and-white image. "It's like looking at a negative," he said.

"The Rotaries helped us out before," said Sherlock. "In the 1970s, when the Emergency Medical Service was just coming into being, the Annapolis Rotary Club gave us money for the first paramedic unit we had.

"Then, in the mid-'80s, they did it once again for our second unit. Each time, they've given us the chance to take advantage of the latest technology to serve our community."

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