October 8, 2012

Dancing the night away

Third annual “Dancing With Our Stars” raises $44,000.

by Amie Sites

LOGANSPORT — Logansport residents met for an evening of dinner, donations and dancing to support the downtown arts district Saturday night.

The third annual “Dancing With Our Stars” raised about $44,000 and brought in a crowd of 270 people in an evening sponsored by Logan’s Landing.

Pam Leeman, chairman of the event, said it all started when former Mayor Mike Fincher approached her and Kathy Dingo and asked them to create an event and was extremely supportive of the idea.

Leeman said they decided to create “Dancing With Our Stars” and thought it was a wonderful way to raise morale.

“It’s exciting for us,” Leeman said. “We’ve been sold out since June and to see that people are still supportive and as excited as us three years later is incredible.”

Twelve stars of Logansport were each paired with an experienced dancer.

Each professional helped the star with choreography and song choice.

The dancers began soliciting votes prior to the night of dancing and there was also voting Saturday night. To vote for their favorite couple, people could buy one vote for $20, eight for $100 or 20 for $200.

There were three awards handed out Saturday on the third-floor ballroom of the PNC Bank building downtown.

The awards for Grand Champion and Best Performance went to Emily Brandstatter and Kyle Kellogg. People’s Choice Award was given to Chuck LaDow and Madelyn LaDow.

Leeman said $25,000 of the $44,000 was raised through sponsors reserving the 21 tables available in the ballroom.

A majority of the stars and their partners began practicing in August.

The evening began with an opening dance number by the Berryettes, and then the dance performances by the local celebrities and their more professional partners began.

Cass County Circuit Court Judge Leo Burns and his dance partner McKenzie Price performed a tap dance. Burns participated in the first “Dancing with Our Stars” event.

Burns purchased tap shoes for the event and said that he had never tap danced before.

“I performed hip hop previously and this year I’m doing tap. It’s definitely pushed me out of my box,” Burns said prior to the competition. “McKenzie has dancing in her blood and it’s been fun to learn something new.”

Mayor Ted Franklin danced with Gina Curl. Curl has taken several dance classes over the past 16 years and she is the director of the Berryettes and Junior Berryettes. Curl said that she created the dance with the help of one of the Berryettes. Curl has been a part of all three “Dancing With Our Stars.”

“This is a wonderful event that raises morale and allows people to dress up and have fun,” Curl said. “The artwork that the money goes toward is beautifying downtown. People continue to support my program, and I will whole heartedly support their programs back.”

Curl and Franklin performed a dance to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

Franklin said prior to the event he was nervous.

“I’m a little nervous but it’s only one minute and a half of my life,” Franklin laughed. “I think sometimes people focus on the negative, but sponsors of this event and Logan’s Landing are helping downtown Logansport thrive.”

Mark Strong, Logansport fire chief, partnered with Jessica Griffith to perform a hip hop number to three songs by Lil Wayne, Aerosmith and Sean Kingston.

Griffith has been involved with dance and cheer since she was six years old. She previously had Curl as a coach.

“Mark is known as the fire chief, so we decided to go with a fire theme,” Griffith said. “He has been really great.”

Strong said that he hadn’t participated in the event previously.

“I was a little nervous before, but when we had the overall rehearsal it was great,” Strong said. “It’s a way to raise money and have a great time.”

Chris Gaumer and Hunter Curl performed a freestyle dance to “Drop Dead Beautiful” by Brittany Spears. Gaumer said he was a little nervous and had to be talked into participating in the event by Judy Lewis.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” Gaumer said. “I’m nervous to perform, but it’s good for the community and I think it’s one of those things you can’t take too seriously.”

The money raised in the two previous events funded art and design district signage, pocket parks and a public art piece titled “The Dancers”, a more than 13-foot steel statue constructed by local businessman James Galbreath, which stands near Third and Market streets.

The money will continue to be used for the downtown arts district.

Leeman said it started with a dream she and Dingo had and now it’s becoming a reality. She invites everyone who participated in the event, whether it be dancing, or attending and donating, to an award ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday in the City Council chambers of Kokomo City Hall.

Leeman said that city won the 2012 Indiana Main Street Design of Downtown Public Improvements Award and it wouldn’t have been possible without the people involved with the “Dancing With Our Stars” event.

“It was all made possible by the generous donations of the people of Logansport,” Leeman said. “Everyone is invited to attend the free ceremony, the more people there the better it will be.”