Thousands Raised For Connected Parks At Dinner On First 2017

by | May 14, 2017 | Breaking News, Business, City News, Community, Cullman City, Cullman Tonight, Get Smart, Images, People, Videos

Thousands Raised For Connected Parks At Dinner On First 2017

Dinner On First was indeed a ritzy party. Far more profoundly, if you care to go deep, it was emblematic of what makes Cullman terrific.

Dinner On First 2017 was far more than a ritzy get together in support of the Cullman City Parks and Recreation Connected Parks program.

Beyond the obvious financial benefits derived from the fundraising aspects of this event, Dinner On First contained multiple storylines that – if you look closely – speak volumes about the people of Cullman:

1. The ability to adapt and overcome unpredictable adversity.

2. The willingness to invest significant resources into the community for people who are challenged by congenital disadvantages.

3. The innate ability to separate personal interests, business agendas and lifestyle differences which promote the best interest of the community as a foremost priority.

4. Volunteerism going above and beyond what anyone would expect much less deliver.

5. Showing everyone willing to notice that the alchemy generated from good intentions, noble purpose, laser focus, perseverance and plain old get-off-your-ass-and do-something effort is alive and well in Cullman.

Dinner On First 2017 had tremendous unpredictable adversity. This 2nd annual edition of this event took months of pre-planning to execute. The plan was to deliver a spectacular 300+ person open air gathering along 1st Avenue NE in downtown Cullman.

The unpredictable adversity arrived about ten days ago in the form of a long-range weather forecast predicting rain and thunderstorms. Those predictions turned into reality with threatening skies and ample rainfall Friday evening.

Forward thinking personnel with the City of Cullman and City Parks made the determination early in the week to NOT cancel the event.

Instead, they chose to find an indoor venue that would provide protection from the elements AND give them the ability to maintain the required ambiance and mood of Dinner On First.

Several venues got considered. A wild card – seemingly near-impossible location – rose to the top of the list: the Old Cullman Warehouse.

The Old Cullman Warehouse has been used for many purposes over the last few decades, from a large cotton processing and storage facility to a mega-furniture outlet.

In recent years, this 250,000 square foot monument to Cullman’s past has enjoyed minimal active use. While still structurally sound, the interior has accumulated various old, unwanted residential and commercial items along with copious amounts of dust, dirt, moisture and environmental clutter.

Image a largely abandoned attic in a 100-year-old house.

There were plenty of venues in Cullman which could have the hosted physical necessities of Dinner On First. Only one could have provided the appropriate feel and mood: the Old Cullman Warehouse.

As a result, organizers of Dinner On First made the faith-filled decision to move the outdoor event into this underutilized facility with the full agreement and support of the property owner.

With less than a handful of days to effectively turn an old, musty, dirty, large attic into a spotless, ambiance-rich, large-scale event venue, the effort became both monumental and historical.

Somehow, small armies of City and Parks personnel along with an extensive list of volunteers pulled off what on what on Monday something even the most optimistic considered an improbable challenge.

It would take too long to acknowledge each person involved in the process much less all the large-to-minute details necessary to accomplish such a feat.

One example sums it up best:

A commercial street sweeper/cleaner was obtained to make almost a dozen and a half scrubbing passed over the ancient old wooden floor. By Friday evening, this cleaning operation led to the use of the adage ‘it is so clean, you could eat off this floor.’

The extreme interior design talents of Amy Wood and her crack staff also showed it is possible to turn less-than-nothing into something spectacular with the perfect atmospherics.

Their A+ effort is well documented in the accompanying photographs below.

The willingness to invest significant resources into the community for people who are challenged by inherent disadvantages is the core purpose of Dinner On First. A short review of what the Connected Parks explains all you need to know about the program.

The Connected Parks program is not a necessity for a city size of Cullman. It is a choice.

That choice elevates the Cullman community making it on par (and often above) cities of much larger size and cultural diversity. These decisions matter to families with special needs members. They also make the Cullman Park system better for everyone.

Also, as industrial and economic growth continues to arrive in Cullman, these sorts of initiatives and amenities are often the difference makers that motivate individuals and organizations to invest millions of dollars into moving to Cullman. Such initiatives also ensure loyal existing business remain in Cullman to participate in the city’s bright future.

Most cities – regardless of size – are often crippled by personal interests, business agendas, and lifestyle differences. You need to look no further to our giant neighbor to the south for a classic example of this.

The innate and conscious ability to separate those frequently selfish and me-first attributes for the best interests of an entire community (and it’s residents) is in VERY rare supply across many locations across the United States.

Not so in Cullman, and not so with Dinner On First.

There was not a visible speck of self-interest displayed by the attendees of Dinner On First. A bunch of powerful, successful and competitive people suspended their daily personal agendas and wrote checks for $125 to support the community in the most fundamentally generous sense.

Yes, they got an outstanding meal from Dyron’s Low Country, first-class entertainment from Round 2 and an atmosphere unlike anything else that occurs in Cullman during the year.

But everyone in attendance realized that the bulk of their ticket price was going to make the lives of special needs people, the park system, and Cullman an increasing better place.

None of this could have happened without the dozens of volunteers who participated in the planning and execution of this event. Again, there are too many folks and too many details list on a roster here.

One shining example of this volunteer effort was from the Pilot Club of Cullman and a few of their youth auxiliary from Vinemont.

Approximately a dozen of this group’s ladies serviced the lavish five-course meal to the 300+ guests over the span of 2 hours. They had to walk the various dishes from a street level kitchen area onto the main serving area AND repeat the process of removing the consumed plates back downstairs for dishwashing.

Sounds simple enough, but it was not.

They never took a break, never complained and knocked out this thankless set of tasks like professional table servers. And they did it for free with no compensation (except they did get to eat Dyron’s desert at the end!).

There are several more storylines involved with Dinner On First that may never get a public mention. A LOT occurred in a very short period.

In the end, what went on behind the scenes at Donner On First was at least equally important to the public presentation of the event.

Two long-time, forward thinking members of the Cullman City Parks and Recreation BoardMark Aderhold & Herbert Arnold – eloquently explain the core reasons for the’s Dinner On First event in this interview:

The bottom line is simple, on the surface between $25,000 and $30,000 was raised towards the goal of the $300,000 price tag for a Connected Park.

What was extraordinary beyond the impressive financial success was that everyone who participated in Dinner On First generated an alchemy with good intentions, noble purpose, laser focus, perseverance and plain old get-off-your-ass-and do-something effort spotlighting why a small city like Cullman is such a positive, forward moving and positive place to live.

Dinner On First was indeed a ritzy party. Far more profoundly, if you care to go deep, it was emblematic of what makes Cullman terrific.

IMAGES from Dinner On First 2017

CLICK Any Image To Enlarge

Cullman Warehouse

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Thousands Raised For Connected Parks At Dinner On First 2017

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The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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