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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Putting the fun in fund-raising

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Suszanne Boren touches up her flamingo, "Pearl."
CHARLESTON -- From a vaudeville couple and Hawaiian hula dancers to a soldier and an Easter bunny -- there's something funny-looking about those flamingos in Charleston.

Beginning last Wednesday through April 9, some Charleston merchants are displaying hot pink flamingos inside and outside their businesses.

So why all the flamingos? The Charleston Merchants Group, a subcommittee of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, wanted a fun way to raise money for a community organization.

"We wanted to do something to create some excitement in Charleston -- something not necessarily to build up businesses, but to get people out and about and excited about something," explained Charleston merchant Suzanne Boren.

And it may come as a surprise, but dressing a plastic flamingo isn't an easy task, noted Boren, who owns Merle Norman Cosmetics in Charleston. "Mine is a female and she wears red lipstick and eyelashes. Her neck is all smooth because she uses Merle Norman cosmetics," Boren said. "And her name is Pearl."

A patriotic flamingo
Clad in a one-of-a-kind spring blue dress, "Pearl" also wears flip flops and has earrings, although Boren admitted she's not sure if flamingos have ears. Participating businesses can dress a flamingo or pair of flamingos in whatever style or costume they wish, explained Karen Hitchcock, a Charleston Merchant Group member. The public then votes for the best dressed flamingo by casting penny bids. Individual businesses may also conduct a silent auction by bid sheet for people wishing to take a flamingo home.

All proceeds will be given to the Junior Study Club to be used in the maintenance of the local Scout Cabin.

"We chose the Charleston Scout Cabin because male, female, black, white -- whatever culture, they have the opportunity to belong to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and everyone in Charleston has someone who has benefited from the Scout Cabin," Boren explained.

Although the Junior Study Club has its own fund-raiser, it's really nice for someone else to help, said Sallyann Naile, treasurer of the Junior Study Club.

"We're thrilled somebody wanted to help us raise funds," Naile said. "We were glad the merchants said they would like to help us out."

The Scout Cabin, which is located in Charleston, was built for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to conduct meetings and day camps, Naile said.

"It was built in 1945 and our same club has owned it all these years and we maintain it," Naile said.

The club leases its spot at a park from the city, pays the insurance, which gets expensive, Naile said, and keeps up other maintenance on the building. Currently about 16 businesses are participating in the event.

"People have put a lot of thought into their flamingos," said Claudia Arington, executive director of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. "Some are decorated in tuxedos, and mine is decorated in azaleas."

The azaleas, of course, represent the Chamber's annual main event, the Dogwood-Azaela Festival, Arington noted.

"I'm real proud of them and for choosing an organization like the Junior Study Club," Arington said. "It's a real novel idea."