By KIMEKO MCCOY
In addition to a new year, St. Augustine was introduced to a new tradition this month with its first military ball hosted by Forward March.
St. Augustine’s Inaugural Military Ball kicked off the 450th commemoration year. Some of St. Augustine’s most notable were there including St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, City Manager John Regan, Major General Emmett R. Titshaw, County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, State Representative Doc Renuart, and St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels.
To put the event together, the ball had a committee of about 20 people, including Dan Sullivan and Betsy Yeomans.
Decorations for the ball were handled by Charlene Bunell. Food was catered by Ryan Torboli of The Black Molly Grill, and Sullivan, committee chair, said everyone looked grand.
He also said the ball went so well that plans are in the works for a second installment next year.
“Forward March is starting a tradition in this town, and we’re going to continue it,” Sullivan said.
The tentative date for next year’s ball is Jan. 16.
The event was open to the public and tickets quickly sold out.
Sullivan said news of the event simply started on word of mouth and “it just became something with a life of its own.”
Forward March, a 501(c)3, hosted the black tie and military formal dress event to honor the retiring of Adjutant Gen. Titshaw while at the same time raising funds for the renovation of American Legion Post 37.
“It went beyond expectations,” Sullivan said, “but there’s a lot more to be done to raise funds for the renovation.”
The building’s renovation is a 450th Legacy Project and started last year. Plans are being developed for the completion of the first floor, and the hopes are to have that completed in the New Year in order for the building to continue as a military and public community space.
Sullivan and Yeomans said the ball was about so much more than just raising money or starting a tradition. They wanted to honor the men and women of the military.
“This is just something really positive for the people who have served this country,” Yeomans said.
Sullivan said as awareness grows, so will sponsorship and understanding from the community.
The ball was held at Mark Lance National Guard Armory on San Marco Avenue. Music was provided by The Dave Johnson Band.
Gen. Titshaw also had a hand in additional entertainment when he joined Chad Light to perform a skit on stage. The evening also included a silent auction.
Although this was the first ball in efforts to raise funds and awareness.
Sullivan said the initial ball served as a solid foundation.
He said a host of people stepped forward to make it a reality, and the group’s anticipation is to gain more sponosors for recognition on behalf of Forward March and renovations to the Post 37.