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Go Wild for ‘Ding’ event to feature ‘the dance’

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

PROVIDED

A laid back, fun atmosphere of the community gathering in honor of the reddish egret will soon fill The Community House with singing, dancing, bidding and enjoying one another’s company.

Go Wild for “Ding” – Dance of the Reddish Egret, will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at The Community House. As of last week the event was sold out.

Ding Darling Wildlife Society Executive Director Birgie Miller said Go Wild for Ding is the society’s largest fundraising event where all the proceeds are used to support the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

“This has turned into an event that they know is fun. They know it’s great and know the funds go to a good cause,” she said. “They look forward to it every year.”

Although the society has held a Trailgate Party in years past, this is the first year they are calling the event Go Wild for Ding.

The funds generated from the event will go towards research, conservation education, school trips, internship programs and various programming.

“We help fill in the gaps where federal funding falls short,” she said.

In addition, Miller said a portion of the proceeds will go towards the reddish egret research being conducted by Dr. Kenneth Meyer with the Avian Research and Conservation Institute.

“I think people take for granted that the reddish egret is just so plentiful,” she said. “The species is healthy, but they are really a threatened species because they can only be found in this area of Florida and Texas. That’s why this research is so important because there is very little known about the bird. The research that is taking place is very important to understanding the species.”

Miller said they wanted the theme to revolve around the reddish egret this year because it’s a fun, corky bird that is known for “the dance.”

The event will feature various clips, pieced together by local filmmaker Mark Meyers, of the reddish egret’s dance shown throughout the evening.

The society decided to add a fun twist to the event by incorporating the music of Alan Jackson’s song “Where I Come From,” with different lyrics. Miller said they contacted the Alan Jackson camp to get permission to change the lyrics.

“The interns wrote the lyrics,” she said. “One of our interns, who is a dance minor in school, put together a dance to go with the song. The dance is kind of like doing what the reddish egret does.”

After a karaoke version of the song is sung, the band will break in and do a live version of the song while singing the lyrics.

“We are hoping more people will come out of the crowd that are comfortable seeing the dance and do it. That will be kind of a fun thing,” Miller said.

In addition to the dancing and singing, the night will also include one of Jim Sprankle’s popular carved feather pins. Miller said Sprankle has made only 50 of the feathers, which are typically given to family, close friends and for “Ding’s” auction items. This year, a hand-carved painted reddish egret feather pin will be part of the event.

“Last year I think it sold for $7,000,” she said of the feather.

Those who purchase a feather are entered into the Flock of the Feather Club, which gets together once a year for a special event.

This year, Miller said they decided to change it up a little, since not everyone can afford $7,000.

“We are selling 150 chances to win the feather for $150 each,” she said.

Two other chances will be given to win beautifully framed reddish egret photographs taken by professional photographers Terry Baldwin and Al Hoffacker.

“They do not need to be present to win, but the drawing will be drawn on Feb. 23,” Miller said.

More than 40 silent auction items will be featured during the event for attendees.

The evening will also feature a dinner buffet with island restaurants Matzaluna Italian Kitchen, Trader’s Store & Cafe, Bailey’s General Store, George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille, Queenie’s Ice Cream and Sanibel Sweet Shoppe.

“The nonprofit community depends so much on the individual members of the community, businesses, corporations and foundations that sponsor and support the effort,” Miller said. “That’s what makes this island so unique. The people and businesses and everybody gets behind it and it makes the island’s what they are today.”

For more information about the event, call (239) 292-0566.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.