Spring is just around the corner, making it the perfect time for a French rendezvous.
Can’t make it overseas at the spur of the moment? No problem. Paris is coming to Spartanburg – at least in a virtual sense.
The 14th annual Mobile Meals Land Cruise will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in the downstairs arena of the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, which will be transformed into a cruise ship on course for Paris.
“The Land Cruise is tremendously important to our overall budget,” said Jayne McQueen, president and CEO of Mobile Meals of Spartanburg. “Last year, (the money raised from it) bought food for over 133,000 meals, which is very significant.”
Each weekday, Mobile Meals of Spartanburg delivers hot meals to nearly 1,500 recipients, all of whom are homebound, frail, alone and unable to care for themselves.
“We receive no government money, so we have to raise funds through events like this,” McQueen said, noting that the Land Cruise is Mobile Meals’ second largest fundraiser each year and that it has raised more than a million dollars since its inception in 2005.
Tickets for this year’s Land Cruise are $60 per person or $1,000 for a reserved table seating 10 people.
“What we try to do is replicate a ship, so (attendees) come up to a pier and get on the ship and have their passport stamped,” McQueen said. “And then they have their picture made, which they get (as a complementary gift) as they leave.
“Once they’re in (the lower part of) the auditorium, there’s this incredible ballroom with dancing and it’s just a lot of fun.”
The “cruise ship” includes music entertainment from the variety band Back 9, which offers a mix of everything from beach music and funk to contemporary country and pop favorites.
“Back 9 is back by popular demand,” McQueen said. “We’ve had them several years, and the community enjoys them so much.”
WSPA television news anchor Tom Crabtree will once again serve as emcee or “cruise director,” and there will be five food buffets available, including one offering such French delicacies as crepes and quiche.
There will also be a casino-like game room, where attendees can enjoy a variety of activities and be able to keep an eye on NCAA March Madness basketball action via a large-screen television.
“The Land Cruise was the dream of one woman, Judy Wilson, who was on (the Mobile Meals) board and thought it would be a great idea to do a land cruise,” McQueen said. “When it was first suggested, there were some naysayers, but boy has she proven them wrong. People just love this event.”
Attendees for the 14th annual Mobile Meals Land Cruise will also have the opportunity to bid on a variety of items via live and silent auctions. The highlight: a real-life trip to France, including visits to Normandy, Versailles and, of course, Paris.
McQueen said Mobile Meals board members Anne McKinney and Terri Harp are the co-chairs of the planning committee for this year’s event, which also involves the work of many volunteers. As in previous years, J M Smith Corporation is the presenting sponsor of the Land Cruise.
“Everyone who comes to this event always talks about how much of a good time they have,” McQueen said. “What we want to do is to provide a fun evening for the community and, at the same time, raise money to feed people in need.”