TALLADEGA -- While it could not be called “sunny” by any stretch of the imagination, Talladega’s 43rd annual Sunshine Saturday went ahead anyway, and residents still came out to support the cause.
Sunshine Saturday is the ARC of Northern Talladega County’s largest annual fundraiser. The money raised goes toward everything from school supplies to a special needs summer camp, as well as support for the Burton Development Center, which provides services for adults with intellectual and developmental issues, making them more independent.
The event consists of rides, games, face painting, bouncy castles and a rock climbing wall, among numerous other fairground type attractions. An Easter egg hunt was added this year, and the raffle prizes were back again.
“The weather is not quite what we wanted for today, but the turnout has still been pretty fair,” ARC Director Janie Gable Curtis said Saturday.
Once again, the Caravan Class and Whosoever Will Men’s Bible Study Class had the grills going, and volunteers came from everywhere, Curtis said.
“Talladega College really showed out for us this year,” she said. “We had the entire boys and girls soccer teams here, and the basketball team, and students and faculty from the Education Department. Plus, we had a lot of college students that just came out to volunteer to help. We really appreciate that.”
Zora Ellis Junior High School and Munford Middle School provided volunteers as well. The Talladega High School JROTC was on hand, along with the Winterboro Beta Club and volunteers from Southside Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Talladega, the Greater Talladega and Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Alabama Eye Clinic, the Junior Welfare League and the Talladega Lions Club, among many others.
“Everybody has just been amazing,” Curtis said.
This year’s event also included the event’s first Easter Egg Hunt, which Curtis also characterized as a success.
“We had pretty good turnout for that this morning, too, in spite of the weather,” she said. “I really appreciate everybody coming out to support us, from the volunteers to all the people coming to cook for us.”
Replied one of the men behind the grills, “We appreciate you.”
Once again, Nathan Payne served as master of ceremonies.
“Yeah, we had a little rain earlier this morning, and it’s been kinda chilly, but this shows that people are really committed to the cause. It’s been great,” he said.
Talladega Mayor Jerry Cooper also saw a reflection of the best of the city in the stronger-than-expected turnout Saturday.
“It’s been great, considering the weather. It makes me really proud of Talladega to see people turning out like this to support a great cause,” he said. “I would really like to be able to see the whole city pull together, for events like this and for efforts to make our city better and more beautiful for everyone.”
City Councilman Jarvis Elston said he has been coming to Sunshine Saturday most of his life.
“I was coming here before I was on the council, and my parents even brought me every year when I was a child,” he said. “There’s a lot of history, a lot of significance to the community here, and, of course, it’s for a great cause. I look forward to coming here every year, whether I’m a councilman or not.”
Talladega’s Jeff Lang is another Sunshine Saturday regular and has been for many years.
“Sunshine Saturday is great,” he said, “it’s a whole lotta fun. But we need some sunshine.”
Curtis said the ARC sold more than 1,100 “Go Casual” T-shirts and raised more than $11,400 in grants for special education teachers a year ago. “Go Casual Friday” is another ARC fundraiser, held each year the day before Sunshine Saturday.
This year’s sponsors were First Bank of Alabama, Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, Stampede Steakhouse, Dr. Zack Dollar, CMP Talladega, Alfa Insurance, Therapy South, Miller’s Barbecue, Griffins Jewelers, Ace Hardware, Alabama Eye Clinic, Alta Pointe Health Systems, Custom Pizza, Legacy Roof Contractors, MainStreet Family and Urgent Care and Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. Dollar and Legacy are new sponsors this year, Curtis said.
Dessert was provided by Blue Bell Creameries, and this year’s T-shirts were made at Alabama Industries for the Blind.