Port Arthur event Taste of Gumbo returns to raise funds for local nonprofits

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Twelve years ago, the Rotary Club of Port Arthur assisted Chris Ranalli in a mission project that built a playground in Ecuador.

It’s still being used to this day.

“What’s pretty cool is, for these little kids, it was like going to Disney Land,” he said. “They’d never seen anything like that. Just the joy. It was a wonderful investment.”

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It was one of many stories shared by those attending the 35th annual Taste of Gumbo this past Saturday at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center.

Back in person for the first time since 2020, hundreds attended the civic club’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Lily Alvarez, left, and Gina Flores at Taste of Gumbo. (Monique Batson/The News)

Since its inception in 1915, the Rotary Club of Port Arthur has provided funds for a multitude of local nonprofits, and performs service projects such as helping families in need with Thanksgiving dinners and holiday gifts, giving all third grade students in Port Arthur a dictionary each year and purchasing infant carriers for new mothers, among more.

Approximately 20 students from Bob Hope High School’s Interact Club volunteered to assist with the event, which served gumbo, pizza, desserts and other treats.

In addition, a live auction and silent auction were held to assist the club in raising funds.

Vernon Durden, president emeritus for the 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont, served as auctioneer for items such as a four-pack of tickets to a Houston Astros game and a 70-inch television.

Local band The Rolling Bones provided live entertainment through the entire event, which was attended by many elected officials, city and county representatives and other familiar faces.

Attendees were able to vote for their favorite gumbo, with this year’s winners being: third place, Floyd’s Seafood; second place, Darlene’s; and first place, Texas Gas Service.

This year’s Taste of Gumbo was executed under the direction of President-Elect and Queen Gumbo Dana Espinal.