Spirts were high and hugs and kisses abounded at the 17th annual Milford Welcome Party, after having been cancelled last year because of Covid.
The welcome extended to returning seasonal residents as well as new residents to Milford.
The mood was further energized by the spunky bluegrass and old-time music of The Lost Ramblers string band. People were happy —happy to be outside again, happy to see old friends, and happy to meet new friends.
The June 19 event was hosted by the Milford Enhancement Committee (MEC), which had been under the umbrella of the Historic Preservation Trust of Pike County. The MEC has just become an independent not-for-profit organization this year. This was another reason to celebrate.
The work of the MEC benefits everyone who lives, works, or visits Milford. The annual Welcome Party is its major source of fundraising, and helps pay for improvements to public spaces in town, including streets, sidewalks, curbs, pedestrian lighting, benches, and landscaping along Harford and Broad Streets. The MEC encourages potential volunteers who want to become involved to visit their website (milfordenhancement.com).
This year’s Welcome Party was the most successful ever, grossing $110,000 with the net more than $100,000. Ticket prices were $50, and the tent was filled to capacity with 375-plus enthusiastic guests.
Tickets included an open bar and food donated by many local restaurants. Mayor Sean Strub, master of ceremonies and auctioneer par excellence, is MEC president. At one point, Strub invited the people new to Milford to pose for a “new attendee group photo,” and it was stunning to see almost 100 happy people come forward.
The 2021 Welcome Party co-chairs were Eileen and Scott Smith, Richard Morais and Robert Radley, Tom Hoff and Bonnie Crellin, and Larry and Teresa O’Leary. They helped make the event go smoothly. Eileen Smith, MEC vice president, kept track of every detail.
The theme of the party was “All Trails Lead to Milford,” inspiring some brave souls to come in hiking apparel.
“It was an open event to come and meet the town,” Eileen Smith said. “It was so fabulous to see a town so divided come together.”
Several people echoed that sentiment and left politics aside to support a good cause.
’Warm and fuzzy feelings’
There was both a live and silent auction. The live auction offered items such as a handmade quilt, a vintage Navajo Concho belt, seats from the historic Milford Theater, and a rustic rocking chair, as well as paintings by local artists and professional photographs of local sights such as Grey Towers and Raymondskill Falls.
In the “Experiences” portion of the auction, people donated unique events for auction. For example, there was a session on professional acting and presentation tips, a custom kayak trip for up to six people, a week at Sanibel Island Resort and Spa, and a screening for up to 10 people of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” with author John Berendt’s lively commentary and Savannah-inspired drinks and snacks.
The “Experience” that raised the most money was “Sushi, Sake, and Sweets,” an exotic private dinner of sushi with fresh fish flown in from Japan and prepared by an outstanding Japanese chef, and including cooked delicacies, sake varieties, and handpicked Japanese whiskey. This experience sold for $5,500.
The party was a great success. It was said that people left with “warm and fuzzy feelings.”
Eileen Smith said, “The town needed somewhere to come together, and this was it!”
The bar has been set very high for next year.
“The town needed somewhere to come together, and this was it!” Eileen Smith