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Election night a winner for Arbutus church

Adam Jones posted this carbo-loaded dinner the night before playing the Toronto Blue Jays (and winning 2-1). (Photo courtesy of Adam Jones)
Adam Jones posted this carbo-loaded dinner the night before playing the Toronto Blue Jays (and winning 2-1). (Photo courtesy of Adam Jones) (Baltimore Sun)

Despite the tone of some of the political advertising leading up to Election Day, the feeling at Arbutus United Methodist Church was, for the most part, a positive one Tuesday evening.

Hoping to make life a little less hectic for household cooks trying to juggle doing their civic duty with their family obligations, and to raise money at the same time, the church on Maple Avenue hosted a Election Night Spaghetti Dinner on Nov. 4.

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"We did this about 10 years ago and it went over real big," said Craig Wheeler, who handled the kitchen duties during the event.

Adult guests could eat their fill of spaghetti with either meat sauce or marinara, salad, bread and cupcakes for dessert for $8, with those ages 4 to 12 charged $4 and children under 3 free.

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All told, approximately 150 people enjoyed a meal they didn't have to cook after voting, and there were no contentious conversations about politics during the meal service hours of 4 to 8 p.m., said Wheeler, who voted early.

"We had people who gave us a 20 [dollar bill] and said, 'This is for two. Keep the change.'," he said.

Two male guests who appeared to not have a place to stay, stopped by and said they had been told it was a free meal, Wheeler said.

They were seated and served at no charge, he said.

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"They each ate two platefuls of food, bread, salad, and a few cupcakes," he said.

The cupcakes were donations from members of the church, said Wheeler, whose sister, Michelle Ziolkowski is known for making cupcakes in the form of ice cream cones that are sold at the church's booth during the annual Arbutus Crafts Festival every summer.

Ziolkowski was in charge of the dinner and did most of the planning, Wheeler said, adding the signs sprinkled around Arbutus announcing the dinner were just one of the more visibile components of his sister's marketing campaign. She was also responsible for the signs in Arbutus stores, outside the church and at the entrance to Arbutus off Southwestern Boulevard, he said

"I was just one of the guys helping cook," he said.

The event required about 45 pounds of spaghetti that was cooked beforehand, then bathed in boiling water Tuesday evening.

Following tthe family recipe Wheeler and his sister supplied, cans of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and cooked ground beef were mixed with fresh garlic, oregano and other spices to make eight gallons of meat sauce and six gallons of marinara sauce on Friday night.

The homemade sauce did not completely prevent some negative feelings from appearing at the table, however.

"It seemed like a lot of people were frustrated. A lot of people didn't so much vote for either person running for governor as against the other one," Wheeler said on the talk he heard during his breaks from kitchen duty. "It was more a non-vote for [Democratic candidate Anthony] Brown than a vote for [Republican candidate Larry] Hogan."

The event, which ended just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, did have one final positive effect the next day.

Wheeler said the leftovers from the night before, more than 15 pounds of cooked spaghetti and a quarter of the sauce, were delivered to the Westside Men's Emergency Shelter Wednesday.

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