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BRUNSWICK — The weather may have been dreary Wednesday afternoon, but that didn’t stop Gelato Fiasco from hosting a 12-hour party – balloon animals and singing included.
April 25 marked the shop’s annual “Scoop-A-Thon” to benefit the Brunswick Area Teen Center, when the Maine Street store donates all sales beyond its daily seasonal average to the youth center.
Portland Pie Co., down the street from Gelato Fiasco, also pledged 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to the cause for the first time this year.
In addition to fundraising, the event also gives community members a chance to act as volunteer scoopers for one-hour increments from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
On Wednesday, staff from Brunswick schools were among the volunteer servers, as well as town staff, including members of the Town Council. Faculty and student athletes from Bowdoin College were also slated to scoop towards the end of the night.
“Celebrity scoopers,” as they were referred to on the event’s flyer, wore red aprons and name tags to scoop the gelato, which is made fresh daily in store, and comes in funky, often-changing flavors including raspberry blood orange, toasted coconut, and espresso chip.
Entertainment was also supplied, with an hourly schedule including balloon animals, face painting, and a variety of musical performances.
Tickets for a 50/50 raffle were available for purchase, too.
Alanna Roy, a guidance counselor at Brunswick Junior High School, was among the school volunteers working the scoop-a-thon from 3-4 p.m.
Roy said her school’s role in the scoop-a-thon, other than helping out, was to “recruit people to check out the teen center and see what a wonderful program it is for students after school.”
She added the space is available for teens in grades 6 through 12, and is a place where young people can socialize. For some of her students, Roy said, the center is an especially valuable resource.
“For some people it’s a safe place for them to go after school when they don’t have that support at home,” she said.
Patrons can also become members and eat at the center for no cost, as well as utilize free Wi-Fi, computers, homework assistance, gaming systems and art supplies, among other perks.
Stacy Frizzle, executive director of People Plus, the center’s parent organization , said the scoop-a-thon provides a “significant chunk of revenue” for the program, which costs about $50,000 to run per year.
The fundraising goal for this year’s scoop-a-thon, she said, was $10,000. The sales of gelato and raffle tickets typically bring in roughly $3,500, and the organization also garners donations from sponsors.
The community, she said, is usually very responsive to the scoop-a-thon, and typically doesn’t let weather like Wednesday’s hold them back.
“Last year it was during the rain, and people came out in droves,” she said. “So we’re really honored to be able to do this every year, we have generally 1,000 people turn out.”
As part of Brunswick Junior High School’s hour working the scoop-a-thon, two student acapella groups performed. The Fedora Fellows, an all-male group, even performed for patrons and passersby outside under a tent.
The other, an all-girl group including Frizzle’s daughter, Juliet, who is a seventh- grader, was set to perform with at 4 p.m. Juliet said she’s experienced the teen center because of her mom, and enjoys the atmosphere.
“It’s really fun, they serve good food, and you can kind of just do your homework,” she said. “They’re very accepting.”
Frizzle said ahead of Wednesday’s scoop-a-thon the cause had already raised $5,000 from sponsors, which gave her hope of reaching the $10,000 goal.
“In the past we’ve never gotten over about $6,500, and this year we’re already over that, I think,” she said. “I’m hopeful that it’s record-breaking; fingers crossed.”
A crowd gathers inside Gelato Fiasco Wednesday afternoon, April 25, in Brunswick for the annual Scoop-A-Thon to benefit the Brunswick Area Teen Center. The event hosts volunteer scoopers from the community, and all proceeds above the store’s daily seasonal average are donated to the center.
Martin Mackey, director of the REAL School, hands a customer a cup of gelato April 25 at Gelato Fiasco. Serving with Mackey during the annual Scoop-A-Thon to benefit the Brunswick Area Teen Center are volunteer scoopers from Brunswick Junior High School.