With a flick of the calendar, southeast Wisconsin bids goodbye to February’s icy grip today. It’s March and that brings the annual pageantry of state high school basketball tournaments, the March Madness of the NCAA tournaments and soon — soon — the lamb-like weather of sunshine and fair skies that’s supposed to come by the end of the month.
We don’t kid ourselves that winter will leave easily and yes, there are some frigid days still coming. But we know, too, that winter’s days are numbered.
A check of the calendar also shows it’s time to stock the larder for local food banks and put some soup on the table for the homeless. The Thoughts for Food fundraiser to benefit the Racine County Food Bank is Saturday from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at 14 Downtown area venues. It marks the 27th year for the fundraiser, which has raised more than $420,000 and collected 110,000 pounds of food over the years. More than 40 musical acts are scheduled to play. Admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the door — and don’t forget to bring two nonperishable food items.
Following quickly after that is another Racine tradition, the Empty Bowls fundraiser to feed the homeless is on Monday at Festival Hall. Lunch is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner is served from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and attendees get to take home the handcrafted ceramic bowls that are created by local students, artists and volunteers. Carryout servings are $10.
Since it began in 1997, Empty Bowls has raised more than $250,000 for the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization and the Racine County Food Bank. The two traditional March fundraisers will put food in the stomachs of those less fortunate and warm your heart as well.
Heartwarming also applies to the unprecedented generosity of the late Beverly and Otto Tarnowski, who bequeathed $1.2 million to the Gateway Technical College Foundation, the largest single bequest gift the Gateway Foundation has ever received. The gift comes on top of a previous donation of $804,000 that was used to establish Tarnowski Hall at Gateway’s SC Johnson iMet Center in Sturtevant.
Otto was a sheet metal craftsman who died in 2012. Beverly, who died in 2017, worked for the telephone company early in her career and managed the couple’s hobby farm in Caledonia. Gateway officials said half the donation would be used in the Gateway Promise program to help graduating high school seniors who might not otherwise be able to afford career and technical education to better their lives.
It’s a remarkable commitment to the education of Racine area young people that will help build their careers and fulfill their dreams for years to come.
OK, so maybe there weren’t a lot of hot contests to fire up the electorate on Feb. 19 in the county’s four primary elections (two City Council primaries in Racine, one in Burlington and a School Board race in Caledonia and Wind Point). Still, only 897 people voted in those contests, giving Racine County a turnout rate of 5.6 percent. As one poll worker put it: “This is pathetic.”
Bars and restaurants come and go, that’s just a fact of life in the business world. Still, we were a little nostalgic over the news this past month that a couple of Downtown Racine area favorites were changing hands.
Ricky’s Place, 236 Main St., a popular spot with area police officers, is having its 26-year-run ended at the end of the month as owner Rick Smetana decides to concentrate on his bar and barbecue restaurant on Rapids Drive. Ricky’s will become Marci’s on Main, run by Marci Bruley, who plans to remake it as a country-western bar.
And the longtime nautical favorite the Yardarm Bar and Grill, 930 Erie St., will end a 37-year-run. The fish-fry favorite tavern and restaurant, which had a custom sail shop in the back when it first opened is being sold by Lauri Tomasek and Lisa Caffery to Joey LeGath, who owns and runs several popular area taverns. The Yardarm name will come down and LeGath will rechristen it “Joey’s East” in keeping with his “Joey’s” branding at his other taverns.
But, alas, if you have a hankering for those Parmesan-encrusted sand dollar fries you should load up soon — they’ll be setting sail from the menu.