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Patriot Day Picnic is today in Clinton

Islanders will gather for “A Time To Remember” as the South Whidbey Republican Women host their annual Patriot Day Picnic today.

The event’s theme, “A Time To Remember,” was chosen to honor those who died and whose lives were changed by the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s more of a memorial service, without being of a religious type,” said club president Mary Jane Aurdal-Olson. “It’s a coming together to remember how we felt that day. We shouldn’t forget those people, those unborn babies and pregnant mothers and all of them.”

Attendees have a chance to rally around the Republican Party and recall the ways 9/11 altered the course of history from 4 to 7 p.m. at Clinton Community Hall.

There will be a buffet including desserts.

And for the first time in the picnic’s long history, the group is hosting a silent auction. Sixteen items are available, including a one-hour tour in a Cessna airplane, handgun instruction, 10 yards of crushed rock delivered anywhere on Whidbey Island and a two person trip on a catamaran to Victoria, B.C. Many items were volunteered and the auction was not planned to be large until people and businesses contacted the group.

“We were very lucky about that,” Aurdal-Olson said. “We try to allow people to get a good deal. I think our items are really exciting.”

As part of the events, former Central Intelligence Agency officer Herb Meyer will be the keynote speaker. Aurdal-Olson said Meyer is considered an authority on terrorism from his experience with the CIA during the Reagan administration.

A handful of local government officials will also attend: Representative Barbara Bailey, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, Island County Assessor Mary Engle and commissioner candidate Jeff Lauderdale. Each guest has a five-minute opportunity to speak, with a short question and answer session after their presentations.

Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson was scheduled to appear and speak at the picnic, but had to renege because of a scheduling conflict.

Organizers planned for 100 guests, and by Thursday, more than 70 had reservations.

The public is invited to attend, as well as members, for $25 by cash or check. Aurdal-Olson said credit and debit cards cannot be accepted because they won’t have a card reader.

Money from the event will go toward the campaigns of local Republican candidates. Some funds will be used to cover operating costs such as the catering and hall rental fee. Fundraising expectations were not given because this is the first year the group had an auction, though organizers envisioned any money from the auction being a bonus.

“This is a pilot project,” Aurdal-Olson said. “We didn’t anticipate the wonderful donations that we have received. It’s money that we wouldn’t have had at all.”

The South Whidbey Republican Women previously organized a fall picnic to gather and rally support for local candidates. It wasn’t until recently, Aurdal-Olson said, that the group used the event as a fundraiser. Adding an auction to it adds some reward for what may otherwise be fruitless donations.

“I hate to have people donate into a pot that doesn’t have a bottom. There’s no guarantee their candidate is going to win but at least with an auction they are receiving something in return.”

RSVP by calling 341-2418 or emailing czarina@whidbey.com.

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