Boat shows an opportunity for local groups to cash in


THERE'S MORE to the Annapolis Boat Shows than simply boats. For a group of nonprofits and clubs, the shows can mean serious money.

The parking lot behind Annapolis Elementary on Compromise Street can yield up to $20,000 for that school's PTA during the U.S. Sailboat Show, which concludes this evening.

And those folks are not piggish. They share the parking proceeds from the Powerboat Show, which runs Thursday through Sunday, with other PTAs around the city on a rotating basis.

"Annapolis Elementary has happily and unbegrudgingly shared with those schools that lack location," said Randy Landis, viewed in some circles as the parking czar at Germantown Elementary.

Because of his seven years of experience parking cars for Naval Academy football games -- for the benefit of Germantown's PTA -- Landis was enlisted by the city several years ago to help work out satellite parking for the boat shows.

He did that and assisted in getting Annapolis Middle, Bates Middle and Annapolis Senior -- and their PTAs -- to provide parking for show-goers, relieving pressure on downtown.

This relief, in a town where parking is precious, resulted in the three schools being nicknamed "the string of pearls."

"The PTAs use this money for field trips, special assemblies, computers, beautification projects, hospitality nights, special academic programs, bands, playground equipment, even curtains for an auditorium," said Landis.

Across the Spa Creek Bridge, Kathleen Buckley figures Eastport Elementary's PTA will make about $14,000 after both weekends. She has a vested interest in this parking venture: She has four kids enrolled at the school.

"The money goes for computers, books, media supplies, cultural activities and other things," she said. She added that the PTA will pay Anne Arundel County for any repairs to the playground if cars plow up the turf.

On Compromise Street, the Fleet Reserve Club cooks and serves 10,000 pounds of pit beef for both shows. Club general manager Catherine Jackson declined to reveal how much money is involved, but did say profits "make up a significant portion of our annual income."

She said 20 club staffers and about 160 member volunteers, almost all of whom are military veterans, have a hand in the project.

The Knights of Columbus from Glen Burnie are at the show gates selling Tootsie Rolls for schools for the disabled. They raised $15,000 several years ago, according to member Jerry Gavin. Also on Compromise are five nonprofits approved by the city to sell food. They are Hospice of the Chesapeake, Optimist Club, Sons of Italy, Mount Zion Church of Eastport and St. Mary's Athletic Association.

If the weather is good, these groups make anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. They contribute to the fabric of the show with the smell of good food and friendliness of the vendors. Fannie and James Licci at the Sons of Italy booth greet Italian nationals in their native tongue. Frank Brown sells Mount Zion crab cakes -- "hardly any bread, 99 percent crab." He gets support from 30 parishioners, many of them back at the church busy prepping and cooking.

Inside the show, Don Backe of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) doesn't count on money but rather "purveys propaganda" in hopes of someone donating a boat to his nonprofit. CRAB sells these boats and turns the proceeds into its program of providing sailing experience for disabled folks. Boats are specially rigged and provided with swiveling seats so that the wheelchair-bound can move with confidence in the cockpit.

By the way, the Sailboat Show concludes tonight at 6. At that time, hundreds of sailboats begin to make way for hundreds of powerboats in a waterborne ballet that's fun to watch. It's free, too.

Pub Date: 10/11/99

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