Civic spirit has festival on track


You won't find a prim and proper atmosphere as you would at Christie's, or people signaling a bid by wiggling their noses. At the Pumphrey Day auction, bidders' voices are just as likely to ring out as loud as the auctioneer's.

One year, a woman and her mother got into a bidding war against her two sisters over a few toys and household items, recalled Carolyn Brooks-McCutcheon, program committee chairwoman and a past auction worker.

"It sounded like they didn't want what they were bidding on. It got to be a competition between the two groups," said Mrs. McCutcheon, 52, who stayed up until 1 a.m. the night before some auctions, pricing items with other workers.

The auction is usually one of Pumphrey Day's big moneymakers, but this year donations are only trickling in. Mrs. McCutcheon wonders if there will be an auction Saturday.

"We really haven't gotten the donations that we normally get in," said Mrs. McCutcheon. "We can't really count it out until the first of the week."

Preparations for Pumphrey Day seem to be going slowly this year. Many people have previous commitments, leaving few around to volunteer. "But we're still going to go on," Mrs. McCutcheon said.

At 10 a.m., a parade led by a fire truck from the county's Brooklyn Park station will start at Bingo World. The parade will wind through Pumphrey before ending at Lloyd Keaser Community Center at School Lane and Berlin Avenue.

The community center is named after a native son who attended the Naval Academy and went on to win a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. The second of the county's two all-black Pumphrey Elementary schools was on the site. Mrs. McCutcheon's father attended the first school on Berlin Avenue, and she attended the one where the center now stands. The county closed the school during the push for desegregation.

During Saturday's festivities, a king and queen contest for children ages 5 to 12 will be held, and there will be a 3-on-3 half-court basketball tournament. The winning team gets to walk away with the pot built from a $3-per-person entry fee. Teams can apply on Pumphrey Day.

"[The tournament] really means a lot to the community and I just think young kids now need for older people to reach out to them because there's so much drugs and shootings these days," said Kim S. White, 32, a mother of three. She is helping organize the basketball tournament.

A sound system on the edge of the basketball court will blare music throughout the day as old friends and neighbors socialize and become reacquainted.

Mrs. McCutcheon said the daylong celebration at the center is "sort of like a homecoming to come back and have a family day because that was the elementary school that a lot of people attended at one point in their life."

A 50/50 raffle for half of the pot will be held, and there will be a drawing for crab feast that includes a bushel of steamed crabs, a case of beer or two cases of soda. Tickets are $1 each for both.

The winner of the crab feast will have the order delivered to their door. Though past winners have been local, anyone who lives far away need not worry. If such a person should ever win, Mrs. McCutcheon said, "I guess we'll just have to get on the road and drive."

All proceeds from Pumphrey Day will go into the operating funds of the Lloyd Keaser center to help put on dances, programs in African-American history and other community events, she said.

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