“It’s a good community event,” said Tom Hemmings, principal. “People can bring their families, and area people can come with their classic cars.”
Community members started trickling in to the bash before it officially started at 3 p.m. People could buy food from concessions or a vendor set up with treats such as cotton candy and candy apples then look at the classic cars parked nearby. Beach music began playing at 4 p.m.
“It’s a fun and relaxed family atmosphere,” said Deena Martin, president of the Gentry Booster Club.
The Boosters sponsor the Beach Bash every year to raise money for the school. It’s their biggest single event of the year. The money from this fundraiser generally goes towards improving technology at the school. In the past, Beach Bash proceeds bought SmartBoards for classrooms.
“This helps buy things that are not in the school budget,” Martin explained.
The primary funds were raised through the raffle taking place at the bash. For $5, people could enter their chance to win a $2,000 cash prize donated by Carolina Carports. According to Hemmings, the event has raised anywhere from $4,000 to 5,000 in the past.
Although the Beach Bash is a fundraiser, the school lets classic car owners participate in the cruise-in for free. Up to 70 car owners show their classic automobiles at the bash each year. Teachers from Gentry judge the cars and award prizes for Daily Driver, Best Original, Baddest of the Bad, Best Truck and Best Paint.
Randy Shur was especially drawn to the car show aspect of the Beach Bash.
“It’s neat to look at the old cars,” he said.
Shur came to the Beach Bash with his daughter, Mellanie, who attends the school.
“I came to see my friends,” Mellanie said with a smile.
Many people also come to hear the beach and oldies music. Ignoring the clouds, people spread out their beach towels on the grass while listening to Mid-Life Crisis perform classic music from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Support from sponsors helped pay for the band.
This year, the booster club expected a turnout of around 200 people. The organizers hoped that many people would come out despite the chance for rain. Many students come with their parents and grandparents, but Hemmings said it also draws people that have no connection to the school. This year the Beach Bash was held in conjunction with an AAU basketball tournament at the school, so some of those people stopped in to enjoy the music, cars and food.
The Boosters will continue holding the bash each year on Mother’s Day weekend.
“The Boosters support every aspect of our school, and all of the kids benefit ... We really appreciate our Booster Club members and what they do,” Hemmings said.