March 25, 2005

Drinking Margaritas may help children

By J.D. Hawk

America has a history of laughing in the face of life’s obstacles with relaxed optimism and unmatched bravado. So when money needs to raised for the education of Chula Vista’s children, the EastLake Educational Foundation (EEF) doesn’t necessarily plead for funds, they throw a party instead— Mexican fiesta style. “We wanted it to be relaxed and fun,” Miguel’s Cocina Manager Cassandra Kidwell said.

Fun indeed, because one may now contend that the drinks being consumed, and all the cheery, teary-eyed notes being sung — at least on the south patio — are not only a remedy for workday stress, but actually helping children by increasing the purchasing power of the EEF for computers and technology-based equipment. “The proceeds from this event benefit the foundation and support six schools in the EastLake community,” EEF Executive Director Rhonda Valencia said.

Miguel’s Sigi Gutierrez warms up the crowd before the contest starts.

Kidwell teamed up with the EEF Executive Director Rhonda Valencia to bring karaoke singing to Miguel’s during the month of March with the proceeds going towards the EEF. To date, the EEF has raised over $500,000 over a span of five years for EastLake High school, EastLake Middle school, EastLake Elementary school, Olympic View Elementary school, Arroyo Vista Charter school and Salt Lake Creek Elementary school.

For $10, partyers and sober well-wishers alike can join the “party patio” and enjoy the sing-off in a weekly contest beginning at 8 p.m. The karaoke contestants may choose songs ranging from Pop to country, from Ranchero to Blues, from soul to you-name-it, because Master of Ceremonies Juan Robles brings over 3,500 songs to choose from.

After Karaoke contestants complete their song, a panel of judges give their scores, from 1 to 10, and the average score is then announced by Valencia. Judges can be anybody who is willing to judge, but mostly they’ve been people with some public record, like councilman John McCann, the Mortons, or Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Cohen.” There’s been a tremendous outpouring of support and talent.” McCann said. “I’ve been incredibly impressed by the talent we’ve had.”

Contestants have been competing since March 2 and the past winners will all meet again for the final Wednesday on March 30 at 8 p.m.. Besides just having fun and raising money for Eastlake’s children, the winner will take home over a thousand dollars in prizes, including among other things, a pearl necklace and two tickets to Las Vegas. “I’m very excited. I’m going to try out for American Idol next year,” week three’s co-winner Megan Killoran, 25, said.

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