MARCO ISLAND — Move over, Spammy Jammy. The Marco Men's Club has their own festive occasion designed to ward off hurricanes from the island, although without the lingerie and lunchmeat.
Saturday evening at the Hideaway Beach clubhouse, the Men's Club celebrated its Hurricane Ball, a dinner dance that includes the crowning of a king and queen of the ball with the avowed purpose of keeping Marco Island safe from nature's wrath.
"Hey, it's working," said Men's Club past president Tom Traeger, who originated the Hurricane Ball. "It's the queen's responsibility to push the hurricanes away from the island, and they've done a fantastic job," he said. "When Wilma came through, it was just a few miles offshore, but that was enough."
This year, Traeger credited reigning Hurricane Queen Mary Moyer with keeping Isaac from damaging the island. Traeger was doing his part to be ready for anything, showing up for the ball wearing a pith helmet with complete with a solar-powered fan.
After crowding into the bar upstairs at Hideaway for cocktail hour, the club moved into the dining room for dinner and the investiture of the new king and queen. While some monarchies are handed down from generation to generation, and others are determined as the result of bloody wars of succession, the Men's Club followed a quick and painless formula to determine the new royalty.
Master of ceremonies Ray Rosenberg held up a bowl with slips of paper containing the names of the contenders, and Queen Mary reached in and drew out the winning name. Candy Seward was crowned as the new Hurricane Queen, which automatically made her husband Ray the Hurricane King. The two received their paper crowns – his was definitely a Burger King production – but the bouquet of a dozen roses Queen Candy was handed by club president Randle Grossman appeared genuine.
Traeger said he came up with the Hurricane Ball about seven years ago, when he was newly elevated to club vice president, and wanted to create something for the members who stay on the island during the summer.
"We put up with the heat, we listen to all the warnings, we board up our houses when they tell us to," said Traeger. "We have a lot of events, but we need one for the ones who don't go away. I said 'okay, a hurricane ball.'"
"I said, 'you're crazy. You want to have a party in September?' remembered Darol Traeger, Tom's wife. But they did, and a tradition was born.
Darol, along with their daughter Kellie, actually contributed a lot to getting the concept off the ground, said Tom Traeger. Kellie was at Hideaway for the party, and jumped up and down when she won one of the hurricane-themed door prizes for the party, including weather radios and his-and-her flashlights.
With the serious business, such as it was, concluded, nothing was left but to dine and dance the night away to the sounds of the Consecutones. This vocal trio delivered sounds of the '50s and '60s, leading off with "My Girl" and "The Locomotion." Alan Gilbert sang "Great Balls of Fire" while spinning a hula hoop. Back in the bar, Clint and Pat Burke decided to forego the dancing, opting to sit in front of the television and cheer on the American team in the Ryder Cup.
From Goodland to Hideaway Beach, from Spammy Jammy to the Hurricane Ball, Marco Islanders can sleep better knowing that the best non-scientific methods are being employed to keep devastating storms away.
Upcoming events for the Marco Men's Club include a sold-out dinner Oct. 17 at Tara's Steak and Lobster House, and the Halloween Monster Bash, Oct. 31 at Mango's in the Esplanade, a costumed affair with dinner and music. Anyone interested in finding out more about the Marco Men's Club can go to their website at marcomensclub.com.