BRIDGTON – Bridgton Hospital Guild aims to extend summer on Long Lake.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, the hospital is inviting people to take a Mississippi riverboat-style cruise on the Songo River Queen.

Guild member Jackie Palmer said boarding begins at 4:30 for the 5 to 8 p.m. cruise. People can add to the enjoyment and the sense of an earlier time and place by coming in costume, Palmer said.

She’s dressing as a riverboat barmaid in short skirt and high heels. Others are planning to wear garb reflective of that Gone with the Wind-era with long gowns for women and Rhett Butler outfits for men. Some may come as pirates or riverboat captains or work hands. Whether people come in costume or just casual dress, she emphasized that it’s going to be three hours of fun, food, music and dancing.

Diane Boyd, another guild member, said this is their fifth year of doing two benefit programs a year and they wanted to do something a little unusual to spark more interest.

From someone’s idea for a Dixieland theme, plans developed for a cruise on the Songo River Queen with music for dancing and listening provided by the Riverboat Dixieland Band. Food will be homemade, substantial and delicious hors d’oeuvres, she said, so people won’t need to eat after they dock.

It’s going to be a party atmosphere, she said. “We want people to have fun.” Boyd is going dressed as a dance hall girl, but said she had really wanted to go as a southern belle. She’s going to be serving food, though, and she realized that the many layers of petticoats and crinolines under her long gown would make serving awkward.

This will be an opportunity for people to see Long Lake from the boat in daylight and also with all the lights as they return at 8 p.m. They’ll still have the rest of the evening to themselves, Boyd said.

Nancy Worthington, guild publicity person, said this fund-raiser – tickets for the cruise cost $25 per person – is part of their ongoing, five-year goal of raising $200,000 for Bridgton Hospital. The guild board sets aside money for equipment rather than for the general operating fund, she explained. The hospital administration gives the guild ideas for what is most needed, and the need now is for more equipment for the operating rooms, she said.

The guild also operates a thrift shop and the hospital coffee shop. Everything is done by volunteers, Worthington said, and all profits go to the hospital. They have all put a lot of time into this unique fund-raising endeavor, she said. “We need volunteers, preferably under 100,” Eleanor Franck, guild president, said, referring to the fact that many volunteers are getting on in years and there’s a lot of work to be done.

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