Jamboree celebrates 35 years of fun, fellowship

Published 4:45 am Monday, June 16, 2008

By Staff
Saturday gala includes birthday cake, dancing
Lifestyles &Features Editor
With birthday cake, party hats, dancing and fellowship, the Saturday Night Jamboree marked its 35th anniversary this weekend with a gala celebration at the Red Men’s Lodge in Washington.
The Jamboree, a monthly event for physically and mentally challenged individuals, was first held in the spring of 1973, according to current president Marlene Williams Sprouse. Her parents, Mack and Alma Williams, recognized the need for a place where people like their twin daughters, Jean and Dean, could gather and socialize. Thus, the idea for the Saturday Night Jamboree was born.
Sprouse said she feels as if she’s carrying on her late father’s work by being active with the event; she became involved again about five years ago and was urged to take on the duties of president with the “retirement” of Donna Boyd a year or so ago.
Another volunteer who was instrumental in getting the Jamboree off the ground was the late Bill Peele. Members of his family — daughter Peggy Waters and granddaughters Katherine and Katrina Waters and Valda and Tracey Belyeu — were among the special guests at Saturday’s celebration.
Belyeu said her grandfather knew how important the Jamboree was to its clients.
Another early volunteer was Linda Berry, who became involved while bringing her Girl Scout troop to help man booths during the Jamboree’s Halloween carnival. Berry has been active with the event for more than 25 years, and even though she’s had to cut back in recent years due to health issues, she makes sure she is there for the Halloween party.
Berry recalled her first Halloween carnival and the joy she felt when her first customer at the fish pond booth was a little girl who won a prize.
Martha Seighman — also known as the infamous Bubbles the Clown — shares her humor and warmth with the Jamboree clients, rarely missing a gathering and always garbed in one of her colorful costumes.
Also in attendance was Washington Mayor Judy Jennette, who read the proclamation she issued the previous week in honor of the Saturday Night Jamboree. Jennette remarked that she had attended the gatherings several times in recent years.