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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Save the Date: "Fort Thomas Canteen 80's Throwback" to Benefit the Brighton Center

If you grew up in Fort Thomas, you probably have many memories of attending canteen dances during your early teen years. You and your friends might have taken over the dance floor, or the coveted ping-pong tables in the game room. Perhaps you finally plucked up the courage to dance with that cute kid in your English class. Or maybe you sadly remember spending the evening in the Armory's bathroom after getting dumped by your date, in which case, this is your chance to create new, fun canteen memories.

Go ahead and mark your calendars for February 7, 2015, dust off those neon leg warmers, and kindly remind those around you that nobody puts Baby in the corner. Brighton Center has joined forces once again with Katie Walters, the Promotions Coordinator at Q102 and longtime Fort Thomas resident, to bring those beloved canteens back to life. This year, Fort Thomas Matters is also onboard with Brighton Center and Walters for planning the Fort Thomas Canteen 80's Throwback.

The idea for the dance first came to light last year when Walters, who also serves on Brighton Center's Board of Directors, was brainstorming fun ways to bring the community together to help support the Brighton Center. “I was trying to come up with an idea that was fun and proactive for the Brighton Center,” said Walters. “Everybody has a memory at a canteen. I wanted to recreate the sense of being at the canteen back in the day, of dressing up and having fun.” When Walters approached Fort Thomas Matters Editor and Publisher about teaming up for this fundraising event, Collier considered it a no-brainer. “Brighton Center is truly a community-driven organization, and the funds raised from the Canteen Dance will directly effect the people in the community,” said Collier.

I spoke with Brighton Center's Development Director, Becky Timberlake, and their Marketing and Communications Specialist, Deana Sowders, about the event. Along with Walters and the Fort Thomas Matters staff, they are excited about this year's event. One of the best parts about this dance is that it isn't only about making sure the DJ plays your favorite jam and dressing up with friends, but that the proceeds will be benefitting the Northern Kentucky community. The money raised will go directly to the Brighton Center, who will then use it to help fund their community outreach and support programs. “Last year, it went to our unrestricted giving, which can help support any of our 39 different programs. Last year, Brighton Center served over 84,000 different individuals on their journey toward self-sufficiency, through 39 different programs,” said Timberlake.

The first Fort Thomas Canteen 80's Throwback was such a success that Walters and the Brighton Center staff didn't think twice about hosting the event again in 2015. Last year, Walters especially enjoyed how much the attendees enjoyed the event, especially showing off their favorite 80's dance moves. “They stayed on the dance floor from beginning to end,” said Walters. Q102 DJs will be playing all your favorite 80's hits to keep the party going, so go ahead and start practicing your moonwalk now or memorizing those infamous Flashdance moves (sadly, buckets of water will not be available at the dance).

The Brighton Center staff was also impressed by the amount of partygoers at last year's event, and how Walters was able to transport the Highland Country Club back to the 80's. “I liked how the community rallied around the event since it was the first one and we didn't really know what to expect. We had a nice turn out, and the Country Club did a great job of hosting us, and Katie and her team did a great job of making it look very 80s-like. The folks that attended really had fun at the event, and it ultimately led to a great event for Brighton Center,” said Timberlake.

And what would an 80's party be without teased hair, leg warmers, hair bands, and anything out of a John Hughes movie? The Fort Thomas Canteen is a great way to channel your inner-Axl Rose or Molly Ringwald. Last year's attendees fully embraced the 80's theme by dressing in their favorite 80's styles or as iconic 80's characters. According to Sowders, “People got very creative.” Approximately 75% of last year's attendees donned their best 80's gear for the occasion.

Katie Walters, Brighton Center's President and CEO Tammy Weidinger, and Ken Weidinger at the 2014 Fort Thomas Canteen 80's Throwback event.

Even if you don't want to put those Footloose moves to good use, the Canteen is still worth attending. Walters has worked to secure 80's-themed raffle prizes and photography for the event. Also, Applaud Promotions was able to secure the rights to the original “Fort Thomas Canteen” logo, and have created specialty t-shirts to commemorate the dance. The shirts will be available for purchase at the event.

For Walters, it was important to plan an event that would get people out of the house for the night. She wanted to give the community a reason to get a babysitter if they need one, and party for a good cause. “Anyone with a memory of being at a Canteen, just come back for one night and relive it. Or you can come back and make a new memory,” said Walters. By February 7, you should be rested enough from the holiday craze, and ready to escape the winter blues by getting dressed up for a night of fun. “Make it your choice of place to go that night,” said Walters.

Along with Walters and Fort Thomas Matters, the Brighton Center staff members are hoping this year's Canteen is the best one yet. The staff also looks to the event as a way to connect with the community, and help spread the word about their work. “We'd like to engage more people, and have a larger turnout. Also, we'd like this event to create awareness of Brighton Center, and share more with the community what we do,” said Timberlake. It's fundraisers like the Canteen that help the Brighton Center to continue providing support for our friends and family in the area. “We couldn't do what we do without the community, and we certainly couldn't provide all the services that we do without the community support. That's not just monetary. It's also advocating for us, with us, and spreading the word about what we do. It's about volunteering, responding to needs that we have as far as clothing or food, so it's just really important to us that the community stays involved, but also that the community believes in what we do. That's really important too,” said Sowders.

The Fort Thomas Canteen 80's Throwback takes place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 8:00pm until 1:00am at the Highland Country Club. Tickets are $25, which includes 2 drink tickets, light appetizers, and free parking. You can purchase your tickets by visiting the Brighton Center's website.

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