Musicans’ Christmas rocks Cranker’s Brewery

MUSIC: Ken Stephens, Ernie Hielman and Charlie Simar open the evening with favorite old tunes. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

MUSIC: Ken Stephens, Ernie Hielman and Charlie Simar open the evening with favorite old tunes. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

BIG RAPIDS – Local musicians and “townies” filled Cranker’s Brewery on Saturday for the 29th Annual Musicians’ Christmas Party.

Hundreds of people take part in the event each year, raising funds for Project Starburst and Manna Pantry.

“I’m from Big Rapids, so I enjoy seeing everyone come in,” said Undersheriff Jim Taylor, event volunteer. “It’s like a big class reunion.”

Each year, the party keeps getting bigger, Taylor said.

“There are more people who come and more people who come every year,” he said. “There’s a higher volume of people now, and the bands and music have changed with the generations.”

The Musicians’ Christmas Party was held at Eagles Lodge No. 2535 in Big Rapids for many years, but switched locations this year.

MUSICIANS' CHRISTMAS: Mike Stefaniak plays a set at the 29th Annual Musicians' Christmas Party. Twelve local bands played the event at no charge to raise money for Project Starburst and Manna Pantry. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

MUSICIANS’ CHRISTMAS: Mike Stefaniak plays a set at the 29th Annual Musicians’ Christmas Party. Twelve local bands played the event at no charge to raise money for Project Starburst and Manna Pantry. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

“We just wanted to have a different venue, so we brought it to Cranker’s, where the beer is fantastic and the service is fantastic,” said Kelly Quinn, organizer of the event. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”

Also new to the event this year was a human auction. Local singles were auctioned off as dinner dates, including Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Kevin Wood.

“It’s all about charity and it’s for a good cause,” Wood said, adding he was nervous to take the stage for the auction.

The event raised $3,532 for the local food pantries.

“The main idea is to feed more families at this time of year,” Quinn said. “Especially at Christmastime, children should not have to worry about any of that. Their parents shouldn’t have to worry about food or how they are going to feed their families.

“If we keep doing this and getting the pantry shelves filled we can satisfy a lot of people and take away some worries.”

At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, community members and their children are invited to Cranker’s Brewery to present the funds raised to Isabel Kempton, coordinator of Manna Pantry, and Diane Long, executive director of Project Starburst.

“It’s so the children can get more involved in the spirit of giving,” Quinn said. “They will take the money that is raised and give it to Isabel Kempton and Diane Long. Santa Claus is going to be there too and we are going to have hot chocolate and cookies.”

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Posted by Miranda Roberts

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