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Imagination abounds at annual dinner

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:19 PM

Halloween came early Thursday night as Wilson Books From Birth celebrated its annual Imagination Dinner with all the creativity and costumes one could hope for, all in the name of a good cause.

Now in it’s ninth year, the dinner is the most wacky and entertaining evening of the year in Wilson County, and this year again attracted a variety of attendees from county and city elected officials to notables from the community all who like to have a good time and make a difference.

The Imagination Dinner is a major fundraiser for Wilson Books From Birth. All proceeds from the evening benefit the organization, which is Wilson County’s branch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the pre-kindergarten literacy service that provides one hardback, age-appropriate book each month to children in Wilson County from birth to age 5 at no cost to the family. Any child from birth to 5 years old is eligible for the program.

On Thursday night, the East-West Building at the Ward Ag Center filled with those looking to contribute to the learning of children in the county.

“The 11,000 children in our program thank you,” said Wilson Books From Birth director Peggy Simpson. “Now dig deep in your pockets; we need your money.” 

The dinner, per usual, took on a “wacky waiter” format, where groups or businesses buy and sponsor tables for the evening. After sponsoring a table, the group then selects a “wacky waiter” and theme for the table to be decorated and for participants to dress. The waiter waits on the table and collects “tips” for silverware, napkins, tea, sugar and anything else requested. Those tips add to the fundraising total for the evening. 

The talk of the evening, of course, was the costumes. 

Themes seen throughout the night consisted of Shades of Gray, Alice in Wonderland, rodeo, Egyptians, Johnny Appleseed, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, superheroes, Abraham Lincoln and many, many others.

A live and silent auction also took place, and door prizes were also given out throughout the evening.

Items up for silent auction included DVDs, CDs, sunglasses, jewelry, gift cards and gift baskets, as well as countless other items.

Live auction items consisted of a homemade cheesecake from Judge Barry Tatum, a Whip Crackin’ Rodeo package, a Smokey Mountains getaway package, a Cumberland County Playhouse package and the Tennessee “Orange” Blue Book in honor of Pat Summitt and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Michael’s Café provided dinner for the evening.

Tables were also able to participate in “challenges” for a minimum of $25 per entry where they could challenge people or other tables to tasks, such as singing, dancing and anything else.

At the end of the night, the ADK Sorority took home the trophy for best table for the second straight year. Their theme was “Shades of Gray,” complete with grey lampshades, ties and decorations.

The Imagination Dinner is the only fundraiser for the group each year. The cost to supply books for children is $30 per year per child served. Of that cost, $15 comes from the Governor’s Foundation and the other $15 is raised by the county organization.

For more photos from the event, click here

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