ALLIANCE — The first fundraising event for the Alliance Recreation Center (ARC) since their transition from the Alliance Area YMCA proved beyond successful, more than $20,000 successful. Dancing With The Stars at Newberry’s on Saturday saw more than 300 people in attendance at $75 per ticket. CEO Mara Anderson stated, “It was a wild success. To see that place so packed with people who support our organization and mission; to see people turn out for that was really inspiring.

“On top of that, I didn’t have much expectation for the money to be brought in for the voting of the couples. I was blown away that the audience was so into the event, into every couple — I think everyone just had a great time, so it was really fun.”

The event started with social hour at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 o’clock, serving prime rib as the main dish with salad, potatoes, and mini deserts. Bob and Delinda Neville emceed the event, noting the event’s sponsors: Perrin Manufacturing, Parker-Hannifin, Allo Communications, and Box Butte General Hospital. Anderson added that everything was donated, allowing for the ARC to focus on “fun”draising.

Dancing started at 8 p.m., allowing everyone time for their meal, with five sets of contestants: Mara Anderson and Dan Newhoff coached by Brook Shelmadine, Amanda Mittan and Chris Mills coached by Holly Wade, Toni Girard and Dave Pearse coached by Molly McConkey-Vergil, Stephanie and Dr. Tom Furman coached by Barbie Beck, and Riki Hunter and Rick Kuckkahn.

Jars with each set of contestants name sat at a table near the entrance with the audience placing money inside to vote. After each dance, ARC board members would take the respective jar around for people to place their votes. After all dance routines, $2,735 was raised, and that was just in votes.

Anderson commented, “That was just the voting. It was pretty crazy. I don’t have a specific number — I will tonight — but we raised over $20,000. The event that we did, we were as fiscally responsible as we could have been. Everything that we had was donated, from the food, to table linens, to the space. The only overhead costs we had was paying for Mojo,” a local band who followed the event for music entertainment until midnight, “and Newberry’s for their staff.”

Trash talking was common between contestants throughout the night from before, to during and after dancing, though it was all in good fun — the audience often roaring in laughter in response to the various shenanigans between dancers.

It was Hunter and Kuckkahn that the audience voted for, taking home a trophy and bragging rights. Anderson joked playfully, laughing after her comment. “I’m a little bitter, but like I said, I couldn’t very well win my own dance competition. It’s good that maybe someone else won so my motives weren’t questioned.”

Anderson is already planning the next event, another Dancing With The Stars, setting a tentative date for Oct. 27 later this year at the Eagle’s Club, though not confirmed. Some contestants from this event are expecting to return, though Anderson is looking to add more to the line-up.

“It was a really good showing of community support. It reinforces the fact that the community wants and needs a recreation center and I’m glad that we’re able to provide that,” she added.

The ARC’s next event is a Shamrock Shuffle on Saturday, March 17. Registration begins at 9 a.m. A Leprechaun Chase begins at 9:30 for kids in the sixth grade or under, free with a registered runner. Pre-registration guaranteeing a leprechaun t-shirt ends on March 4.