Oh, What a Night! (Times Two!)
If you had asked me at the beginning of the summer if SUNFESTIVAL, our biggest fundraiser of the year, would be SOLD OUT, I would have said, “Hell, yes!”
It was, after all, a perfect storm of converging forces: When you have a community that is both longing to be together again and deeply committed to supporting CAMP Rehoboth, how could we not?! Not to mention—after all we have endured over the past two and half years—who could resist some comedy offering that best-of-all-possible-medicines, laughter?
SUNFESTIVAL officially kicked off Sunday, August 28, with a 5K. Close to 100 participants ran and walked the route in an unusually dense fog. Afterwards the group enjoyed a post-race breakfast and awards ceremony at the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. What a great way to start the week’s festivities!
What most people do not know is that the planning and execution of SUNFESTIVAL is almost exclusively implemented by nearly 120 volunteers, who are responsible for sponsorship outreach, marketing/promotions, silent/live auction, entertainment, convention center setup, and the 5K. Throughout the week, the décor team was busy bringing its creative vision to life under the direction of a dynamic duo—Board Members Chris Beagle and Mike DeFlavia. After three long days, the convention center was transformed from drab to fabulous.
At 6:30 p.m. sharp on Saturday evening, the convention center doors opened and more than 700 people streamed in to enjoy some meet-and-greet time, an auction, and the sold-out show headlined by Emmy Award-winning comedian Judy Gold. Repeatedly, people came up to staff and volunteers expressing joy at being back together again after two and a half years of isolation and uncertainty. During the cocktail hour, guests perused a sampling of silent auction items and studied the descriptions of the six amazing live auction items.
Rehoboth Beach’s Best Drag Queen 2020, Kristina Kelly, opened the evening and did not disappoint, delivering yet another show-stopping performance. Auctioneer-extraordinaire Lorne Crawford lived up to his well-earned reputation by helping raise more than $34,000 from bidders looking to snag cruises donated by Linda Kemp and annual sponsor Olivia, as well as Adventure Bears and Clay Ellis, who also offered two tickets and a hotel stay to see Lizzo: The Special Tour.
Two items added a bit of nostalgia: a private comedy performance by none other than Fay Jacobs, and Gary Seiden’s donation of a Murray Archibald original painting. A highlight of the night occurred when Gold Sponsor Danny Sebright, who donated two first-class airline tickets and a seven-night stay at the luxurious St. Regis Bahia Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico, generously agreed to offer a second package so both top bidders could win for a whopping $15,000 collectively.
Then came the Saturday finale: the hilarious Judy Gold, who brought the house down with her brutally honest, fearless, and no-holds-barred sense of humor. Back in Rehoboth for the first time since 2014, Judy ended her show by saying laughter is the best way for everyone to come together and celebrate—especially on behalf of an organization as important as CAMP Rehoboth. What a great way to end a great night!
SUNFESTIVAL closed on the ultimate high on Sunday night—Sundance was back for the first time since 2019! Being able to dance again under the disco ball to the music of DJs Robbie Leslie and James Anthony felt like coming home. I am a child of the disco era, so the first three hours of Sundance are my personal favorite—as evidenced by my theatrical lip-synching and the dance moves I dusted off specially for the event.
CAMP Rehoboth owes a huge debt of gratitude to those who contributed to make SUNFESTIVAL a rousing success: our incredible staff, our dedicated volunteers, those who bought tickets, and—of course!—our sponsors, including our Platinum Sponsors Crown Royal, Don Julio, Edward Chrzanowski, Ketel One, and Olivia. On behalf of the board and staff of CAMP Rehoboth, we extend our sincerest thanks to all of our sponsors, hosts, and guests whose financial support helps ensure we have the funds necessary to achieve our mission.
Finally, a special shout out to co-chairs Mike DeFlavia, Chris Beagle, Leslie Sinclair, and Natalie Moss for their leadership. We absolutely could not have done this without you. ▼