RAYNE, LOUISIANA HOSTS 2013 RETIREE RALLY
A welcome guest attended the 2013 FCRV Retiree Rally, March 12 – 18 at the Rayne, LA Civic Center – the SUN. Other than some showers on the 10th the week was sunny and comfortably warm. 170 units on grounds and 11 camp passes added up to 363 people who enjoyed both indoor and outdoor activities. Since Rayne is the ‘Frog Capitol 0f the World’ the rally theme was “Jump Into Spring with Friends.”
Tuesday evening’s opening ceremonies began with the U.S. and Canadian Anthems and an invocation by Chaplain, Walter Shealy. The colors were carried and posted by the past Retiree Kings and Queens on hand – Peter & Jane Brown, FL ’97, Dottie Mendel, LA ’02, Ralph & Betty Bruner, OH ’03, John & Delores Derrick, SC ’04, Robert & Nancy Linder, MI ’06, Ronald & Jo Hersom, IA ‘11, and Leon & LaNelle Ishmael, SC ‘12 who cut the opening ribbon.
Welcomes were given by Rally Coordinators,Linda Hennie and Al Jurek as well as National Retiree Directors, Dick and Pam Likins and FCRV President, Dave Ludwig. The Mayor of Rayne, Roland Boudreaux announced that plans are in place to add more paved sites and some 50 amp electric to camping facilities of the rally friendly Civic Center. Also introduced from the audience were National Trustees, George Walters, VP of Programs, Vodean Benham, Comptroller, and Jack Smye, Immediate Past President.
King and Queen Coordinator, John Derrick read the biographies of each of the three candidates for this year. They are Tommy and Alice Garner, GA, Frank and Kay Newman, MI, and Bob and Arlus DeVriendt, NE. Each couple had the opportunity to speak for three minutes. Not competing were Dwight and Barb Bonifield, Ohio’s king and queen.
Entertainment was by a versatile acoustic trio from Baton Rouge, Airheart. They had the group singing along on several numbers and dedicated “You are my Sunshine” to LaNelle Ishmael, whose nickname is Sunshine. The metal wash board (frottois) had everyone clapping and the Louisiana members on their feet to “On the Bayou.” An original song,” Louisiana Lullaby” performed by the group will be used in the movie “The Diary.”
Daily activities included Bible study, various crafts, stretching and walking, food bank, book exchange, blanket collection, seminars, and commercial area. Vendors on hand included Adventure Caravans, Skymed, Wayne’s RV Service, and Thermo Shield Bedding.
Wednesday was a busy day with golf in the morning, Nebraska Hospitality at 10 a.m., Georgia Hospitality at 2 p.m., card bingo, washer toss, and bean bag toss. Wooden frog races were held at various times.
Wednesday evening was the Mardi Gras party preceded by Louisiana hospitality serving red beans and rice. The costumed crowd danced to the Irby Ledger and the Simply Cajun Band. The fiddle player engaged with several audience members. The grand parade allowed the judges (band members wives) to select the top 3. They were George Walters (red hat lady), Bob Linder (pirate), and Leon Ishmael, (colonel).
Following the program, dozens of door prizes were drawn.
Thursday was a day for group pictures. The always fun ‘potty races’ had lots of participants and cheering viewers. An RV toilet mounted on a plywood cart with wheels was pushed by a blindfolded person, guided verbally by the person seated through a figure 8 course marked by cones. Each team was timed and if a cone was hit they were disqualified. The crowd made a lot of noise to make it tougher for the contestants. Michigan hosted a hospitality at 1 p.m. and a catered BBQ chicken dinner was served at 5 p.m.
The evening program began with the annual memorial service for those members who passed away since the last rally. The FCRV Chior directed by George Walters and accompanied by Shirley Smith Opened with “I Was There to Hear Your Morning Cry” followed by the message by Chaplain, Walter Shealy. Marilyn Shealy read each name and when finished, the audience joined the choir in “God of Grace and God of Glory.” Following the benediction, everyone sang “I’ll Fly Away.”
After a break to reset the stage, Jim Turner introduced the rally vendors and the FCRV variety show came next. Skits are always a favorite and Cliff Boudreax’s Louisiana group went all out in costume with “Cajun Mardi Gras.” Penny Ramlow’s Florida group did “Minute to Win It.” Several others sang and shared funny stories. Joe Miller and Ashley Taylor’s duets were well received and the audience identified with Chuck Wehner’s RV breakdown tale. The program ended with a Salute to St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland by Vodean Benham, George Walters and Jack Smye Participants also included Wilma Schroedel, Ashley Taylor, Bill Stirewalt, Gloria Steinberg, Dale Wagner, and Ray Johnson. Jack Smye was master of ceremonies and George Walters assisted in organizing. Both also sang individually.
Friday morning began with the colorful pet parade with 18 dogs and 1 cat. The Red Hat Luncheon was well attended. Joanne Mills of Du Quoin, IL was chosen Queen Mum. Ladder golf and washer toss were held in the morning and Bocce ball in the afternoon. At 3 p.m. the traditional ice cream social got underway and ballots were collected for the 2013 FCRV International Retiree King and Queen. The Retiree Meeting was brief with Dwight Bonifield inviting everyone to Canton, Texas for the 2014 Retiree Rally March 25 – 30. Up to 4 early days are available and the big ‘First Monday’ flea market is the next week. A free RV driving class for ladies will be offered Saturday and Sunday. Dick and Pam Likins thanked everyone for coming to Rayne this year.
Friday evening began with Dave Ludwig and Iva Lee Vanderhoff doing a power point presentation on the 2013 Campvention July 14-18 at Amana, Iowa. Penny Ramlow announced that the registration forms are ready for the 2014 Retiree Rally at Canton, Texas. Confirmations can be e-mailed. The hilarity began when Magic Mike (Michael Dardant), New Orleans magician and comedian took the stage. He involved the audience in several tricks and had fun with Nina Lawrence on stage. The audience called for an encore and Mike obliged to earn a standing ovation.
The bustling rally flea market took place Saturday morning. Local Girl Scouts were invited to sell cookies. The afternoon was reserved for the popular bean bag baseball tournament. Even with four different score boards, 17 teams played for over 4 hours to narrow down to the final 2. The winners were the Kansas Sun Chasers, second were the Georgia Spring Lizards. The second dinner was held at 5 p.m. with roast pork and turkey. Caterers brought the food and FCRV members did the serving.
Prior to the King and Queen ceremonies, several major door prizes were drawn and awarded. Adventure Caravans presented a certificate worth $2,995 for one of their upcoming Mega Rallies to Ron and Reba Ray of Georgia. A $500 certificate was won by Bill Taylor of Ontario. The City of Rayne gave a large gift basket in a drawing from local sales receipts turned in to track the rally’s economic impact. It was won by Tommy and Alice Garner of Georgia. Two other prizes from Rayne went to Don Bates and Melvin Coy. The Penthouse Campers of Texas sponsored a 50/50 for their Wounded Warrior project. John Barnett of Kansas was the winner of $278. Barb Beasley won the Wayne’s RV drawing and ANPAC Insurance gave away two FCRV memberships.
The program was then turned over to John and Delores Derrick who introduced the 7 past Kings and Queens present. 2012 International FCRV Retiree King and Queen, LaNelle and Leon Ishmael of South Carolina. LaNelle said the past year has been a happy fairy tale. She recalled many campouts they were invited to and the fun they had. All in all they spent 271 days road and travelled 13,126 miles. With ballots counted the international FCRV Retiree King and Queen were crowned. They are Tommy and Alice Garner from Georgia. The First Runners Up are Bob and Arlus DeVriendt from Nebraska. The Second Runners Up are Frank and Kay Newman from Michigan. The Retiree King and Queen tradition began in 1973.
Great music for the evening was provided by Gene Romero’s Boogie and Brass Band. Their danceable blend of up tempo and slower tunes got a lot of dancers on the floor. The King and Queen Reception was hosted by the YARS chapter. The Kings and Queens were greeted with bubbles as they approached the tables. A pair of frog dolls were presented to the new King and Queen.
Sunday morning began with non-denominational church service by Chaplains Walter and Marilyn Shealy and the FCRV Choir. Walter Shealy announced that they are turning over the Retiree Chaplain position after 15 years of service. The new Retiree Chaplain couple will be LaNelle and Leon Ishmael.
Seating assignments for the International Parade were drawn before the workers’ thank you luncheon at noon. 2013 Rally Coordinators, Linda Hennie and Al Jurek, Assistant Coordinators, Barb and Dwight Bonifield, and National Retiree Directors, Dick and Pam Likins thanked the 38 Committee Chairman and their workers for providing a successful rally. Also thanked was Dave Hennie, the week’s ‘Gopher in Chief.’ At 3 p.m. a welcome hospitality for the 2014 Retiree Rally in Canton, Texas was held.
Sunday evening began with the anthems and a prayer of thanks for safe travels. Dick Likens thanked everyone for coming and Linda Hennie gave a special thanks to her husband, Dave for his help all week. Ashley and Gloria Taylor introduced representatives from the organizations receiving the 222 blankets, quilts, and lap robes – Daily Mana CSC, Abundant Life Church, Rayne Quiet Nursing Home, and Rayne Fire and Police Departments. Suzette Leonarda , who works for the City of Rayne thanked FCRV for their gifts to the community and always leaving something behind. Donations to the local food bank totaled $1,002. There was such a need at the food bank on Saturday that they asked that the items collected by FCRV be brought over because they were running out.
Thelma Standiford presented the pet parade winners followed by Bill and Margaret Alderson presenting the games awards and thanking the group for their enthusiastic participation as well as their cochairmen, Don and Shirl Prater and their helpers for donating considerable time and experience.
The final event was the exuberant International Parade of states, provinces, and specialty chapters. Each group, some large, some small, but all proudly carried their banners across the stage and cheered. After the parade excitement subsided, Walter Shealy closed the 2013 Retiree Rally by leading the singing of “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again.”