PELL CITY -- There was laughter, jokes and head-to-head competition as 15 teams clashed in the 2018 Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee on Thursday night. The St. Clair County Chapter of The Literacy Council of Central Alabama hosted the event at the Pell City Center.  

“This really is an important event,” said Mayor Bill Pruitt, who along with former Mayor Bill Hereford and City Manager Brian Muenger took to the stage to challenge their spelling knowledge on some pretty hard-to-spell words. “I am so proud of the community coming out to support this.”

Thursday night’s event drew a large crowd, along with a stage-full of spelling teams.

“This is an incredible crowd this year,” said former Pell City Mayor Guin Robinson, who was the master of ceremonies for this year’s spelling contest. Robinson, as a youth, was the runner-up in the Clay County Spelling Bee.

He said Thursday night’s word caller, Pell City attorney Walter Kennedy, was the 1966 state Spelling Bee champ.

Kennedy said the words used in the spelling contest were provided by the Literacy Council.

Kennedy began by throwing out some softball words, but it didn’t take long for the words to become more difficult as the night progressed.  

In the end, the Spell Casters, which consisted of Donna Hogan, Ann Hamilton and Joan Wright, held off the Blue Dot Buzz trio, which included Carol Fesser and Sherry and Herb Kuntz, after several rounds between the two teams for the championship win. The Legal Beegals, whose team members were Jennifer Sellers, Tiffany Holder and Landon King, finished third.

In other awards, the Bee Witched team of Allison Etheredge, Holly Costello and Joy Lee won the “Best Cheering Section.”

There was a two-way tie with The Beehives (Sharon Lofstad, Christi Dyer and Whitney Dyer) and The Legal Beegals for the “Best Costumes.”

Two Geeks and a Greek, consisting of Carol Pappas (the Greek) and Graham Hadley and Brandon Wynn (the Geeks), won the “Most Original Team Name” award.

In the end, though, organizers said everyone was a winner after helping raise more than $3,200 for the St. Clair County Literacy Council, which was formed in 1991 to help eradicate illiteracy.

“As part of our mission, we never charge an adult who wants to learn to read,” said St. Clair County Literacy Council board member Tammie Williams, who did the introductions at Thursday night’s fundraiser. “We provide all training materials, tutors, books and needed supplies. We also provide scholarship opportunities to cover the majority of the fee to take the GED test, which opens up job possibilities for those who are unemployed or working to find a better job.”

She said there are approximately 9,000 adults in St. Clair County and about 15 percent of Alabamians who are functionally illiterate.

“Your support tonight of this event will help us continue this mission and our focus on battling illiteracy in our community,” Williams told the crowd. “Because we believe as partners, we can facilitate this change and make a difference in the lives of the residents of St. Clair County. Thank you for your support.”