Council members must count how many of their colleagues attend an event lest enough of them gather in one place that they violate open meeting laws. Must they also count how many door prizes they win?
The Friends of Downtown, at its holiday meeting on Dec. 6, gave out door prizes donated by downtown merchants. FOD focuses on economic growth, job creation and co-marketing opportunities for downtown businesses, as well as increasing influence with local government, according to its website. Downtown businesses gave generously to the December meeting, so that the 50 or so meeting participants were in line to share the 50 gift certificates to be given away by drawing numbers from a bowl.
To add drama to the drawing, chair Pat Evans announced that winning numbers would be put back in the bowl with a chance to win again, but that number holders had to be present to win. Those who left early were out of luck. Ed Harrison, who hit the road for a regional transportation meeting in Cary as soon as guest speaker Brian Chacos, Nonprofit Spotlight writer for Chapelboro, wrapped up his presentation, was not there to collect a prize when his number was called.
One of the first prizes went to Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. When a short time later, her number was called again, she gave one of her gift certificates to Lee Storrow, sitting next to her. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt won a gift from Studio 135 and, moments later, a gift from Sugarland. When his number was called a third time, he turned down the prize and asked that his number be removed from the bowl. That prompted a rule change, and the numbers of two-time winners were tossed.
Then Storrow’s number was called for the first time. Technically, he already had a gift, so I chided him to give one away, but all of us for rows around him already had a gift. Just as I was kibitzing to former council candidate Carl Schuler that too many people had two prizes, my number was called a second time. Moral dilemma: I really, really wanted both the gift from Fine Feathers and from Pepper’s Pizza. Storrow helped me find a way out: “Maybe you could take someone out to Pepper’s and share.”
As the gift-laden crowd dissipated at the end of the meeting, Storrow noted: “Everybody leaves a winner. That doesn’t always happen in real life, but it does at the Friends of Downtown meeting.”
The Friends of Downtown meet next on Jan. 31, 2013, at the Franklin Hotel. Networking begins at 9:30 a.m., and the speaker takes the mike at 10 a.m. All are welcome, and parking in the hotel lot is free while spaces last.
– Nancy Oates