Seaford club staying home

By Carol Kinsley

Carlyle Windley, owner of Nanticoke Automotive, is one of several members of the Seaford Lions Club who are working on a skit for this year’s annual variety show, “My Hometown,” which will be presented March 17, 18 and 19 at the Seaford High School. “Every year for our skit we pick some current event in the city and do a little satire. We’ve done the mayor and city council. Last year it was the new city hall, and the year before, the new marina. We did Wal-Mart being built and the sewer line overhaul - whatever is the hot topic at the time.” What’s hot this year? Windley won’t say.
“I can’t divulge what we’re doing. It’s always a surprise. You’ll have to come to find out,” he said.
He and George Sapna of Penco Corp. have been in the Lions Club Variety Show for 31 consecutive years, always with a new skit. George Sapna Jr. was in the skit last year, but neither he nor his father can participate this year, so son Scott will carry on the family tradition. The third showman is Bob Wheatley of The Whayland Co., who has been part of the team for more than 20 years. Windley conceded that, as always, the skit would end with a song. He just wouldn’t say which one.
“We use a current song,” he said. “Sometimes we rewrite the lyrics. We write our own skit and make our own costumes every year.” The show began in 1939, just four years after the Seaford Lions Club was formed. Originally presented at the Palace Theater on the corner of High and Market Streets, it was a minstrel show of songs, jokes and skits until 1962. That year the format was changed to a variety show with individual show themes. From the beginning the performers have all been Lions Club members, except for a few soloists. “Fortunately,” said this year’s show director Jeff Allen, “many members have musical talent and have assumed positions as chorus directors, band leaders and soloists. Participation in the show is open to any Lions member, and talent is not a prerequisite.” Lion Ben Hurley has the longest record of participation. He’s been in 54 shows. John Manlove, now 86, has been in the chorus every year since he joined, almost at the conception of the group. “He won’t be singing this year,” said chorus director Rob Harman, “but you can be sure he’ll be doing something.”
Harman, who has 20 agents in his Home Team Realty business based in Seaford, has directed the 30-member chorus for five years now. “Ron Allen, a state trooper, did it before me, but he has escaped to Florida for the spring. I still haven’t forgiven him,” Harman said in jest. It’s difficult to tell who gets more enjoyment from the show, the audience or the Lions.
“We have an immense amount of fun,” Harman said, “and it carries over to the audience as well. It’s good, wholesome entertainment. We start practicing weekly in January, but this is as good as it gets. More time would not help.” The members of the chorus are strategically placed, he admitted, with the good singers close to the microphones and the “watermelon people” - those who, if they don’t know the words just sing quietly “Watermelon, watermelon” - in the back. On the program this year are songs such as “The Boys are Back in Town,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “The Wanderer.” Chorus members will be wearing costumes, rather than dressed alike as in years past, to go along with this year’s theme, “My Hometown.” Harman added, “Everybody gets a job. We all sold tickets and ads. These are the things we do to raise money to put back into our community.” Proceeds from the show allow the Seaford Lions Club to help fund leader dogs for the blind, to provide eye exams and glasses for less fortunate people in the town, to annually award a $4,000 scholarship to a high school student for four years of college, and to contribute to the Boy Scouts, the Lions Baseball Field, Seaford Museum, Blue Gold Football Game, the Christmas parade and other community projects. Tickets are $7 for any of the three nights, and are available from Seaford Lions members at many area businesses, Seaford Acorn Club members or Nanticoke Little League. Tickets also will be available at the door. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. each night.

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