A festive tradition of food, music and prizes will bring together generations of students and families as well as raise much-needed funds for school sports teams Saturday night at.
Newark Athletic Booster parents are drumming up donations and selling tickets for the 22nd Annual Crab and Pasta Feed.
Booster President Stacy Kelly says the annual party gives people a chance to see and be seen by new and veteran crab feed guests.
“Some people come in jeans while others are dressed to the nines because this is their one big night out,” Kelly joked.
Athletic Director and head football coach Rich Swift says the players from the 1982-1983 girls basketball team are expected to attend Saturday’s event.
“It’s a social event,” Swift said. “It gives you a chance to see people you haven’t seen all year. It’s like a reunion.”
Crab feed organizer Margaret Jean Mikel says this is true for her daughter, a Newark Memorial alum who has made the crab feed a girls’ night out for her friends.
Mikel has transformed her living room into crab feed headquarters as volunteers drop off auction donations and party supplies.
“It’s all for the kids,” Mikel said. “With the budget cuts, it’s bad everywhere.”
According to Mikel, Booster parents raised up to $20,000 at last year’s crab feed.
“The money goes to wherever it’s needed, from uniforms to buses,” Mikel said. “If a team is short on something, they go to Coach Swift to see what they can do about it.”
Booster parents have used crab feed money to help buy team uniforms and equipment as well as provide scholarships to athletes who apply for them.
Swift says the tough budget situation for the Newark Unified School District has sports teams relying more than ever on fundraisers like the crab feed. According to Swift, the sports budget is also supplemented by funds from snack bar sales during home games and the annual fireworks sales ahead of Independence Day.
“Transportation is one of the biggest expenses,” Swift said.
Kelly says Booster parents helped pay for travel expenses for varsity wrestler Victor Pereira when he was invited to compete in an out-of-state wrestling tournament. According to Kelly, Booster funds were also used to pay for the use of the NMHS South Gym for the memorial service for football player Justice Afoa.
Even though the economy is challenging for many, Newark residents and Tri-City businesses continue to contribute money and prizes to the crab feed.
Crab feed guests will be able to bid on a variety of prize packages including an Oakland A’s ticket package, Newark police ride-along, Newark Patch wine basket, tax preparation and a free Round Table pizza every month for one year.
“It’s not the fanciest crab feed, but it’s the homiest,” Swift said. “The people in Newark are special, they have a good time and they enjoy each other. That’s a good thing.”