Caribbean dinner benefits Family Day

Posted: December 14, 2012

The Winchester Star

Winchester — The Frederick Douglass Park Family Day Committee is branching out to keep its annual event going.

The Family Day at Frederick Douglass Park in Winchester marked its 40th anniversary this August, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to cover the rising costs of entertainment and food, said Vivian Walker, president of the committee.

To help, the group has arranged the Caribbean Christmas with an American Flare dinner social from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday at The Royal Lunch, 211 N. Kent St.

“I am hoping for this to be a success as a fundraiser so that other fundraising events throughout the year won’t be as difficult,” said Walker of Winchester.

For the fundraiser, committee members will sell plates of Jamaican food for $7. The plate will include a choice of Jamaican curry or jerk chicken along with white rice with or without beans, cabbage and potato salad. Drinks will be sold for $1.

The proceeds from the Jamaican plate sales will benefit the 2013 Douglass Park Family Day activities.

The restaurant is also offering a special plate sale, though the proceeds do not go to the fundraiser, said Michael Van Zandt, head chef. The plate will include fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, barbecue baked beans, and cole slaw.

The appeal of the event was to give back to the community and to get the restaurant’s name out to the public, said Van Zandt of Winchester.

“We are a mom and pop place. We live off our community. If it wasn’t for the community that surrounds us, we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “We will be bringing people together. That will be the best thing.”

Patrons may dine in or carry out their meals, Walker said. There will be a reggae DJ playing music, and the Washington Redskins game will be shown.

Volunteers from the Laurel Center also will be at the event helping serve food.

Organizers hope to create a sense of community and unity at the event by combining regular customers of The Royal Lunch with new ones it will bring in to the restaurant, she said. Hopefully, the result will be a big push for the restaurant and Family Day.

In the past, the funds for Family Day were always based on the profit made the year before, Walker said. But with the cost of entertainment continuously rising, “we need more money.”

For this year’s Family Day, organizers shortened the two-day event’s hours and increased the emphasis on children’s activities to drive home the family-friendly orientation of the community party, she said.

A big goal this year was to focus on entertaining and drawing out the children in hopes of attracting more families, she said. The event featured sports tournaments, a DJ and games.

It rained for part of this year’s Family Day, but once it cleared up, “it was awesome,” said Walker, who, along with her husband, Terry, stepped in for the first time as the full-time organizers of the event.

“We had tons of people come back (after the rain),” she said. “We still had our DJ going. The games went on. Children were still able to play the tournament.”

Organizers hope to continue with the same children’s events that have been a staple, such as pony rides and field games, but they also would like to add more, Walker said. Funding for trophies and money to draw out more food vendors to expand Family Day’s menu also would be nice, she added.

Information

The Frederick Douglass Park Family Day Committee will sell $7 Jamaican food plates from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday at The Royal Lunch, 211 N. Kent St. Proceeds will benefit the 2013 Douglass Park Family Day activities.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com