Capri Connection: A celebration of love

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As in the past, one of the most cherished events of the year on the Isles of Capri is the Annual Sweetheart Banquet held at Capri Christian Church to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

This is meant to celebrate love and marriage and to show the ladies of the church how much their men love and appreciate them.

Kay and Gene Brady were recognized for having the longest marriage among the guests present. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 23.

“God showed us how to love one another by example, whether it is a spouse, sweetheart, family member, friend or neighbor,” said Music Pastor Steve Dawes in his opening remarks to the some 175 attendees as he shared that the theme of this year’s banquet was that of love. 

The pleasant tropical night air under a full moon made a beautiful backdrop to this year’s celebration.

“Look, the moon is under a partial eclipse,” said Marietta Cox as she looked out from the social hall glass doors. The mood was one of romance and pleasant nostalgia as the music continued constantly throughout the evening while guests dined. Some just couldn’t keep from finding an open space among the crowded room to dance with their sweethearts. 

Roger Gauthier opened the entertainment with his version of “Unchained Melody.” Ron Wooten followed him with a number of songs such as “Blue Hawaii” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Bob Hobgood had many singing along with him when he began to sing “Oh Donna.”

Among the men who cooked for the Annual Sweetheart Banquet, from left, are Pastor Curt Ayers, Eddie Hall, Dale Williamson, Rich Elleman, Jack Addy and Bob Hobgood.

Music Pastor Steve Dawes sang 34 love songs non-stop beginning with music from the 20s. He crooned some of the most popular romantic songs from each of the subsequent decades all the way up to the present day. When he sang Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” the entire audience chimed in with the song and used hand waves and their own voices to interject those famous lines in the lyrics, “Oh, no, no” and “So good, so good.” The cooks in the kitchen could even be heard singing along.

Many who waited in line for their food on the buffet said they actually enjoyed waiting this year because they could sing along with the songs they loved and some even took to dancing while waiting. When Dawes sang Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart,” some of the men took to the floor and broke out in a line dance that was applauded by all.

Once again, the men chefs outdid themselves with a fantastic meal that guests said would rival any restaurant. The guys worked hard gathering the food from a host of different merchants. They then spent all day on the day of the banquet doing prep work and grilling. They chopped, diced, sliced and minced 24 items for toppings to accompany their famous all-you-can- eat salad bar that serves as the prelude to the main meal.

Sweethearts Darla and Gary Goetzelman were among the 175 guests who were treated to a feast and a night of romance and love at the Annual Capri Christian Church’s Sweetheart Banquet.

The entre was a tender grilled chicken, accompanied by meatballs, home-made creamy, cheesy potatoes, green beans, and an assortment of rolls. The meal concluded with an array of irresistibly, delicious desserts and hot coffee.  

Pastor Ayers spent the entire day and evening alongside his hard-working team of chefs.  His wife Dreama stayed until hours after the event to help with clean-up as did many of the women who were so grateful to the men for always making this event memorable. The men have been putting on this gala event for so many years, that none can recall how many annual sweetheart banquets there have been. Maybe that is a good thing?

Much credit also goes to Linda Addy who has served as banquet chair for a number of years. She not only provides the elegant decorations and the awesome door prizes, but takes it upon herself to make custom-made table centerpieces which this year she gave away to many. Addy praised the members of her committee for their tremendous help and support.

Sweethearts Susan and Jim Koroliscyn were among the guests who said this year’s banquet was “the best ever.”

Towards the end of the evening, Pastor Dawes asked for guests to raise their hands as he called out the number of years they had been married to one another. Kay and Gene Brady were the winners of this marvelous accomplishment as they had just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 23. Sweethearts among the guests abounded and the feeling of love in the air was strongly evident. 

Contact Ann Hall at

Linda Addy, standing beside the infamous salad bar that offered 24 toppings, not only served as chair of the Sweetheart Banquet but also made all of the table center pieces by hand from toilet paper and towel rolls.