BOLTON LANDING - The first-ever Bolton Community Spelling Bee, a fundraiser for Bolton Free Library held Sunday was a solid success, and it is likely to become an annual event, Librarian Megan Baker said.
Spectators broke into spells of spontaneous laughter watching adults grapple with fifth-grade-level spelling words as high-schoolers coached them and members of the audience buying Lifelines or bribes to bail out their favored teams, Baker said.
The audience numbered about 150, and $1,650 was raised for the library - much-needed cash to help fund the library's budget which has been strained by recent cutbacks in government subsidies, Baker said.
"The turnout was tremendous, and we'll definitely do it next year," Baker said Sunday night, hours after the event.
Students circulated in the audience selling Lifelines and bribes, while the 10 teams sought to outdo one another.
Baker said she personally bought two lifelines for the spelling team of Adirondack Phantoms hockey players who were struggling with a number of words.
The winning team was Lakeside's Martini Girls, a group of employees and customers of Lakeside Lodge & Grill in Bolton. These team members were dressed up in feather boas, gaudy earrings, and they wore spectacles shaped like martini glasses.
Best Team Spirit Award went to TD Banknorth's Money Talks team, which prompted an array of generous bribes for the judges, cash that boosted the benefit's bottom line. They also brought with them currency frozen in a block of ice, presented to the audience as "Cold Hard Cash."
The team members were creative in choosing names for themselves, including No Non Cents, Legal Tender, and Loose Change, Baker said.
Best Costumes honor was awarded to Faces by Ferdinand, because the team members were dressed up with bumblebee costumes, complete with yellow and black striped face makeup.
The winning word that stymied the competition and handed the Lakeside team first place was "Ankh" the Egyptian hieroglyph for "eternal life."
Beside the teams mentioned, competing were the Hula Honeys from Blessed Sacrement Church, the Bolton Chamber of Commerce, Bolton Fire Department, Heritage Village, Katz Spell, and McDonald Real Estate Professionals, and
The judges collected $150 in bribes. The evening's Master of Ceremonies Jeff Strief offered entertaining narration, backed up by the antics of Dame Edna, or Sally Defty.
Judging the event were Ron Conover, Opie Sherman, and Betty Spinelli. Time Keepers were Hal Heusner and Carole Newell.
Baker said she was pleased with the event and its outcome.
She and library trustee Laureen "Emma" Calautti developed the bee after successful similar fundraisers in other communities in New England.
"We've been trying to come up with unique ways of raising money, and this certainly fit the bill," she said. "The money we raised definitely helps balance our budget."