More than 400 people dined on all-they-could-eat delicious crab, pasta, salad, desserts, beer and wine during Saturday evening's Los Gatos Rotary Club's annual Crabfest and Auction at St. Mary's Church.
Wearing disposable plastic bibs and armed with forks, knives, tartar sauce, lemon and seafood cocktail sauce, they devoured thousands of pounds of crab while sitting in the company of friends and family inside a packed Howley Hall.
It was all for a great cause. Money raised from the $50-ticket sales benefit Los Gatos Saint Luke's Episcopal Church homeless assistance programs, Los Gatos High School student activities and other charities.
Buffet-style, attendees waited in a quickly moving line to be served the tasty dinner by Los Gatos High School Interact Club students assisted by Boy Scout Troop 501, both sponsored by the Tuesday afternoon Rotary Club of Los Gatos.
For the first time the popular event had media and business sponsors—Los Gatos Patch being one of them. Other supporters included Club Sportiva, Billy Boston's Chowder House, Orange Coast Title, T.D. Electric Inc., Inikosoft, Inc., The Terraces of Los Gatos, Sereno Group, Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, Integrated Copy Solutions and Los Gatos Health & Fitness among others.
"We've never had this sort of reception," said one of the event organizers and club spokeswoman Marguerite Padovani. "It's been absolutely positive."
The event used to be solely a Los Gatos Rotary Club member fundraiser. Now it's open to the community, Padovani added.
"This is one of our two biggest fundraisers," said Los Gatos Rotary Club president-elect Mike Norcia. "It creates all sorts of scholarships and conferences for high school kids and helps local homeless programs. It goes into our general fund."
Los Gatos Rotarian Tina Orsi-Hartigan, who's also a trustee with the Los Gatos Union School District, was busy helping about 20 LGHS Interact Club students serve the hungry crowd.
Since 2001, Orsi-Hartigan has worked with the Rotarians to help the students provide service to the community. The Interact Club faculty advisor is English teacher Tonya McQuade.
"We're their parent club ... they work our big events," explained Orsi-Hartigan. "They're responsible for doing the food service line. They set up before the event and help in the kitchen as well."
"It's a very popular event in the community," she added. "It's a wonderful fundraiser for us. All the money goes to our charitable causes."
Toward the end of the evening, auctioneer John Pencer kept the crowd entertained with a live auction. Minutes before, attendees had signed up for more than 80 silent auction items that ranged from dog and cat sitting service to a three-month merbership at Los Gatos Health & Fitness.