The season kicks off in style this weekend, with fun, food, music, raffle prizes and adventure at the National Geographic Visitor Center's third annual Summer Celebration and Kaibab Learning Center fund-raiser.
It will be this Friday and Saturday, 6:30-11 p.m., at the center. Admission is $15 per person, $40 for a family of four, and includes a barbecue dinner, drinks, music by Exit 64 and a special screening of the IMAX film "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure."
The film chronicles Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to Antarctica. Though his aim was to be the first to cross the continent, he and his 27 crew members never set foot on it. A month and a half into their journey, their ship, the HMS Endurance, became trapped in ice where it remained until the following October, when it sank.
Abandoning ship, the men spent about six months living on ice floes, eating penguins, seals and some of the 69 sled dogs they had brought before they were able to use their lifeboats to sail to the small Elephant Island.
Shackleton and five crew went on, 800 miles to South Georgia Island, which they reached on May 10, 1916. Due to difficulties returning to Elephant Island, the rescue was not completed until the end of August, some 22 months after their odyssey began.
All proceeds go to KLC, as does all money raised in the raffle. According to KLC board member Clarinda Vail, the event raised about $5,000 last year.
With the cancellation of last year's annual barn dance and auction, this stands as the center's largest fund-raiser of the year and they hope to raise $10,000.
So far, the value of gift cards and merchandise total more than $2,500. Prizes include gift cards for Starbucks, Safeway, REI, Olive Garden, Foot Locker, Red Lobster, Barnes and Noble, Kohl's, Home Depot, Sears and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Also up for grabs are two iPod Nanos, two digital cameras, two portable DVD players, camping equipment and a 20-inch flat screen television. Donations are also expected from McDonald's and Xanterra.