For the first time in more than 60 years, the Millsboro Lions Club will be holding a variety show. To mark the club’s 75th anniversary, the Diamond Jubilee variety show will be held to help raise money for the club’s various endeavors.
“In the state of Delaware, there are 35 Lions Clubs, and only two of them still do a variety show,” said Mitch Rogers, the first vice president of the Millsboro club and show director.
“I always really enjoyed the other shows and thought, ‘We can do this.’ I’ve been attending one of them for eight or 10 years, and I just love it. I always wished we could do one in our local Millsboro club, and I said, ‘Now is a great time, because this is our 75th anniversary of the Millsboro Lions Club.’”
The show will be held on Saturday, May 9, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School. Tickets to the show cost $6, and may be purchased in advance from a Millsboro Lion, at the Millsboro Edward Jones office or at the door on the night of the event.
The Lions Chorus, which is made up of club members and some spouses, will open and close the show. In between, there will be a number of musical and comedy acts for attendees to enjoy.
Local singer-songwriter Melissa Alesi will be performing during the show, as will Danita Robinson, who also performs in the Springtime Jamboree.
“One gal is going to be a Dolly Parton imitator,” said Rogers, adding that one comedy segment will feature a parody of the popular song “Happy.” “Everybody knows Pharrell Williams — so a parody of that. I hope everyone will be dancing in the aisles.”
Aaron Webster, 11, will also be singing, accompanied by his stepsister Courtney Tull.
“I went to the Bridgeville show last year. This little kid gets up on stage — I guess he was about 10 — in a cowboy hat, jeans, and sings his heart out. I like country music, and he sings a song I know by heart myself and just nails it,” said Rogers of Webster. “He’s the first one I called.”
The approximately two-hour program will have an intermission, during which attendees can purchase refreshments from Millsboro Boy Scout Troop 89.
“It should appeal to all ages,” said Rogers. “This is going to be a lot of fun; it really is. It’s going to be a fun time. You’re going to hear some magnificent entertainers.”
Those who attend will also receive a program book, with advertisements from local businesses that support the show and the Millsboro Lions Club.
“We’re very grateful for the local businesses that have advertised in our program book,” Rogers said.
The Millsboro Lions Club has 27 members, including former state Sen. Richard Cordrey, and focuses on providing eyesight services to the community.
“Sight service is what Lions are all about. We do a lot of other things, but that’s what we were founded on. We were challenged by Helen Keller herself to be ‘knights for the blind.’ That’s one of our mottos that she bestowed upon us, and challenged us to do.
“Our most major project is to assist individuals with eye exams and glasses. Over the past two years, we have averaged 70 individuals each year, at roughly a minimum of $100 each. That’s the main reason we raise money,” said Rogers. “Our second, other service project is to screen every kindergarten child at East Millsboro and Long Neck Elementary Schools.”
A number of years ago the Millsboro Lions Club, along with three other local clubs, teamed up to buy a Spot Vision Screener, which gives a complete screening for eye disorders, including myopia and stigmatisms.
“Three other local clubs and ourselves went together a few years ago and bought a digital screening camera that immediately prints out the results that say whether the child should be referred to an [eye] doctor or not. That device cost about $7,000, and we had a grant to help us cover the expense.”
Rogers said the club’s only other fundraising efforts are through its Fritter Shack, open on Main Street in Millsboro in the fall.
Rogers himself has been a member of the club since 2002, after being invited by former District Gov. Tim Shockley.
“I was proud to be invited. A past district governor came to my office and sat in that chair one day and said, ‘I’d like you to join,’” he recalled. “He was the father of our current president.”
Rogers said the variety show is a great way to mark the club’s 75th anniversary, which is quite a milestone.
“It is huge. We were chartered in 1940. A lot of clubs were chartered in and around wartime. That’s when a lot of Lions clubs were chartered, because the men were coming back and looking to join social organizations and help the community out.
“They’d been off saving the U.S. and saving the world, and came back wanting to serve the community at home.”
Over those 75 years, the club has sponsored the Millsboro Little League’s first baseball team and purchased an ambulance and siren for Millsboro volunteer fire company, as well as providing scholarships to area students.
Rogers said he hopes the community will attend the variety show and support a local organization that has supported the community for three-quarters of a century.
“There’s going to be some good talent there,” said Rogers. “Come out and have a good time. I think it’ll really be a fun night.”
Sussex Central High School is located at 26026 Patriots Way in Georgetown.