Final curtain call will end 75 years of shows

By Lynn R. Parks

After 75 years of producing an annual variety show, the Seaford Lions Club is calling it quits. Its final show, Thanks for the Memories, will be presented March 20, 21 and 22, at Seaford High School.

This is a sad thing for me, said Jim Blackwell, club president and past director of the show. Not just because of all the shows in which he has participated, he said, but also because he can remember his dad, also Jim, performing on stage in the 1951 show, when Blackwell was just 10-years-old.

I knew everybody on stage in that show, he said. Seaford was a small town then and you knew where people lived and where they worked. And at the show, you got to see people you knew up there on the stage, maybe making a fool of themselves but for a good cause, and you enjoyed that.

Now, Blackwell said, the community has changed. And we have to adapt. No sense in offering something that your audience doesnt want.

Former club president and show director Carlyle Windley agrees. We are seeing a cultural change; all of the service clubs are going through the same thing, he said. Community is not the same as it was in the 1960s. Back then, we had a population of people who were out, doing things together and depending on each other more than they do now. Im not saying that the change is necessarily bad. But it is a change, and we have to adapt.

The shift away from producing a variety show, though, doesnt mean that the club is disappearing. Were not going anywhere, said Windley.

In fact, said Blackwell, the need for the help that it provides to people who cant afford eyeglasses is even greater,

since the federal health care program for the poor, Medicaid, no longer pays for glasses. The club spends between $5,000 to $10,000 a year on eyeglasses for people, he said. As part of its mission, Lions Clubs International supports sight programs and services including vision screenings, eye banks and eyeglass recycling.

The Seaford club also provides thousands of dollars in scholarships every year and tries to help out with requests for assistance that we get, he added.

In its peak, the show made up to $12,000 for the club, Blackwell said. Last year, it brought in about $3,000. We have to continue to raise funds in order to serve the community, he added.

Club members are contemplating what they will sponsor to replace the variety show. It may be, said Blackwell, that they will start putting on shows featuring local entertainers. The Seaford Historical Society recently sponsored a country music show to raise money for a new roof for the Ross Mansion, he said, and that show went well.

Whatever the club ends up doing, it will be a new thing for the community, Blackwell said. And it will serve it better.

For your information The annual Seaford Lions Club show, Thanks for the Memories, will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 20, 21 and 22, starting at 7:30 each evening. Tickets are $7 and are available at the Bank of Delmarva, Nanticoke Automotive and Home Team Realty. They will also be sold at the door.

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