Summer Jubilee draws huge crowd
August 28, 2008 · Updated 8:45 AM
MARYSVILLE It was the biggest and best Summer Jubilee ever as more than 5,500 students got a head start on the school year with free supplies, hair cuts and much more at the Aug. 12 event.
Asbery Field was the site for the ninth-annual event sponsored by a consortium of local churches bent on bringing folks together. They succeeded in a big way, drawing thousands of people to the downtown field with the lure of free food, entertainment and fellowship.
The privately held event is as big as anything this town sees on a regular basis, including the Strawberry Festival. People were lining up for the six-hour bonanza early in the morning and came late in the afternoon as crews were tearing things down, according to Judi Johnston, a spokeswoman with Turning Point Church, where the idea started.
For me, Summer Jubilee is the best day of the year, Johnston said. I felt like the presence of God was there and I like seeing people happy.
Count Debbie Hjort as one happy customer. The mother of three said it would have cost her $150 to gear up for the upcoming school year, so thats why she had son Cory first in line before the largess was dispensed. Hjort was also volunteering at the event, so that was a plus to help get the pole position.
Its such a blessing and I dont mind helping out in other ways, she said.
Volunteer Alice Johnson was one of the dozen women and men working the tables piled high with backpacks filled with school supplies; they were organized by the appropriate age and grade level, with walls of reinforcements behind the tables. Johnson was on her toes as the thousands of people in line started chanting the countdown before a hasty, but well-manner scramble for the goods.
Its scary to look at the sea of faces, Johnson laughed as the time drew near. Im liable to tear up.
She is a member of Turning Point Church, where the jubilee originated nine years ago when two women gave away 50 backpacks. They had 6,500 prepared this year.
We dont look at their bank accounts, Johnson added. To me its not only giving to the community but building community among the churches, because thats what Jesus said. Jesus said you shall be known for your love for one another.
At the other end of the field a tent was filled with hair stylists who gave their time for the shear pleasure of helping students make a good first impression. Janelle Ling from Everett Community College was snipping the locks from seven-year-old Sean Wilmots head as his younger brother Aaron got buzzed by Carrie Lufkin.
Its pretty cool, Ling said as Wilmot bowed his head.
Outside at the overflow tables another pair of sibs were under the scissors, two Lake Stevens kids named Malu and Keli Rynders, going into kindergarten and first-grade, respectively, according to their mother Molly.
Its our third year coming here, she said. Its awesome. Its such good things for the kids.
That would include a dozen bouncy houses, with a gladiator combat ring. There was free food and drinks, including more than 9,000 hot dogs grilled and boiled by a team of cooks led by logistics wizard Jim Gutenkaus. Not only was the food hot, but the four chow lines flowed smoothly and the chefs kept up with demand, and the tables were always full.
Our lead food guy is just an amazing man, Johnston said, noting that even a charitable event has to be accountable. Hes always right on his budget. He is spot on, were so blessed by him.
Lindsey Gutenkaus is Jims daughter-in-law and she was smiling despite working hard to keep up with demand as she handed out the frankfurters.
Its fun, she said. Were getting to bless people. Thats what were here for, to make people feel welcome and loved.
That takes a lot of work and Johnston was quick to cite the efforts and contributions of the 15 churches, 657 volunteers and about 35 businesses who lent a hand or donated goods or services. The event probably cost about $140,000 to put on, not counting the thousands of hours of volunteer time.
All the churches contributed in some way, Johnston said.
But the star of the show was bringing the faithful together, she emphasized. At the opening worship service Steve Schertzinger of New Hope Community Church said there were 15 churches cooperating for the jubilee, but they were just franchises of the one true church.
What were doing here today is a work of love, Schertzinger said.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
For teens there was a huge living room with couches, video games and a break dancing floor; a team of muscle men opened the day by break bricks and kids were awed by a display of wildlife that included an alligator, turtles, vultures and many others. Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, and city council members Lee Phillips and Carmen Rasmussen were also onstage, but the audience didnt seem too excited until they started giving away raffle prizes. They got some help from superintendents of the Marysville and Lakewood schools, Larry Nyland and Larry Francois and county council representative John Koster.
The festival got a huge thanks from a neighbor who appreciated the care the group took to alleviate the traffic and parking involved, and for picking up litter for blocks around the Totem Middle School campus.
Steve Averill is a long-time resident of the area who has witnessed the mess and noise of many Strawberry Festival events in the same neighborhood and he saw jubilee workers scouring the sidewalks late that night.
We appreciate them cleaning up afterwards, Averill said.
Isnt that cool? Johnston responded. Were really trying.