by Rusty Murry

The Stars and Stripes shone brightly for the 2013 Fifth Annual Lighthouse Gala. On Saturday, guests from El Dorado Springs, Stockton, Nevada and beyond gathered at the First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center in El Dorado Springs to “Salute the Arts.”

Guests wore their favorite red, white and blue and filled the patriotically themed room with tables decorated by Peggy Kenny’s Event Planning from Stockton that were accented by stunning floral centerpiece creations by Allison’s Floral of El Dorado Springs.

The Master of Ceremonies for the fourth year, KY3 Sports Director Ned Reynolds was joined this year by El Dorado Springs community leader Shannon Mays. The pair finessed the audience throughout the evening with an endearing combination of wit and charm.

Guests were entertained with patriotic selections performed by the El Dorado Springs Show Choir under the direction of Mr. Ron Alumbaugh.

The program was opened by the Nevada High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard under the direction of Master Sergeant Pete Quinlan. The audience stood as cadets presented the colors, which was followed by the Show Choir singing the National Anthem. Special guests headlining the program were Senator Mike Parson, Representative Warren Love, Representative Sue Entlicher and former Representative Barney Fisher.

Following an outstanding meal of parmesan chicken or maple glazed salmon prepared by Maggie Mae’s Restaurant in Miller, Mo. and served by a waitstaff comprised of El Dorado Springs middle and high students, guests were entertained by the Show Choir’s moving rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” while theater student Sophia Marsh’s recital of the Gettysburg Address showcased some of her stage talents. This was followed by an impressive rifle precision drill by JROTC Cadet Major Jason Yarber, which led up to the evening’s main event and the mystery guest of honor.

With suspense growing throughout the evening, guests anxiously anticipated the mystery guest’s appearance. Reynolds and Mays held the audience’s attention by questioning Executive Director Lynne Hedrick as to the identity of the guest of honor. The spotlight moved to the entrance where two men in black suits and ear pieces appeared in the door. As one of the Secret Service agents secured the perimeter, the other approached Reynolds who asked that he provide credentials. Reynolds asked Senator Parson to verify validity of credentials since he has a background in law enforcement as Polk County Sheriff, Stunned, Reynolds announced the honor of introducing the 43rd President of the United States of America. “Hail to the Chief” played as someone who looked very much like George W. Bush took the stage and hilariously entertained the crowd for 20 minutes.

Lighthouse graduate Chelsea Johnston followed with a beautiful version of Phillip Phillips song entitled “Home” while photos of heartwarming scenes of El Dorado Springs and the neighboring communities as well as photos of Lighthouse Children’s Theatre’s honored guests with their families projected on screen.

Reynolds then introduced Nevada resident and actor Brent Mendenhall who has performed as a George W. Bush impersonator since the 2000 presidential election. Mendenhall’s impressive resume` includes appearances on The George Lopez Show, Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and Jon Stewart’s Daily ShowMendenhall has appeared domestic and foreign movies, is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and has received a number of industry awards. The Washington D.C. Times says, “Mendenhall is widely recognized as the first and most famous ‘Dubya’ double.” Mendenhall is a longtime member of the Community Council on the Performing Arts and the owner of the Delway Restaurant.

The program concluded with an invitation to have photo professionally taken with “President Bush” for a donation of $10 and an invitation to attend this summer’s musical production, “Tiny Thumbelina.”

The Lighthouse Children’s Theatre Board of Directors extends a great amount of appreciation to all of our Angels partnering with the Lighthouse in 2013 as well as each person and business who helped with another successful Gala.

LCT is a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to offering opportunities in the arts to children ages 3-17 while building poise, confidence and strengthening a child’s self-worth. For more information about upcoming productions and events please visit the LCT’s website at www.lighthousechildrenstheatre.org.

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LIGHTHOUSE LEADERS – Board members Rusty Murry, Emily Mehl, Chuck Dipman and Sarah Wright, mystery guest speaker “George W. Bush”, Emcee Shannon Mays, Lighthouse Executive Director Lynne Hedrick, Emcee Ned Reynolds, Board Members Leanna Johnston, Stephanie Lame, Carol Watkins and Bob Coleman. Not pictured Board Member Glenda Baker, Board President Dr. Bob Willenbrink and Board Member Natalie Eberhard.

The fifth Annual Lighthouse Gala was held in the First Baptist Church Family Life Center on Saturday, April 27.

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HOME AGAIN – Chelsea Johnston, the Lighthouse’s first graduate sang, the Phillip Phillips’s song “Home.”

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EMCEES – Shannon Mays and KY3′s Ned Reynolds held the audience’s attention while setting up the arrival of the mystery guest.

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HEAD LIGHTS – Lighthouse Children’s Theatre Board President Dr. Bob Willenbrink and Lighthouse Executive Director Lynne Hedrick recognize the organization’s Angels.