CAJUN CORNER By STEVEN DEDUAL Go directly to jail — for babies

Although I was not jury and executioner, I was still able to play judge.

Of course I am referring to my time at the annual March of Dimes Jail and Bail held in the Fountain Room at Harborside Fountain Park June 24.

When Alan Gulick, spokesman for March of Dimes, asked me to be the judge, I wasn’t quite sure what he had in store for me. He said I would get a gavel and a robe though, and that was all it took to convince me to do it.

The problem, or so I thought, was my editor. The event happened to fall on a deadline day, which is not a good day to miss in the community newspaper business.

However, she was very supportive of the idea. She allowed me to take part, as long as I could be back to the office later in the afternoon for proofing pages.

When I arrived at the event I was a bit nervous. I had never participated in anything like this before. Ginger Gray, assistant community director, and Susan McAbee, community director for March of Dimes, explained my job and made me feel a lot better about what I was to do.

Now, the fun part. I was in charge of charging “criminals” and handing down their sentences. What power! Well, not really. It was all in the name of raising money for babies. But I did my best to have fun with it and play along. These “criminals” were charged with whatever I felt like charging them with and then were sentenced to one hour in “jail.” While incarcerated, they had to use their time to call friends, family members and co-workers in an attempt to raise their bail, which was set at $1,000. Once their hour was up, they had to appear before me again so I could decide whether to commute their sentence or force them to do more time (I didn’t do that to anyone though because I had no security force backing me up!).

It was a really fun time and most of the people involved played along. Jay Lovato, assistant chief of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, was charged with “being too nice to reporters on fire scenes” and Bremerton mayoral candidate Mike Shepherd was charged with “being a politician.”

Shepherd served his hour in “jail,” but I felt he could have done more fundraising.

“Next year I will do great,” he said. And with that, I let him off the hook.

Some of the people who came in had no clue what it was all about, but most were happy to do what they could. Some people even stayed past their hour-long sentence just to get as close to their $1,000 goal as possible.

It was quite a scene and I am humbled to have been chosen to participate. I am very hopeful I’ll have an opportunity to take part again next time.

Steven DeDual is a staff writer at the CK Reporter.

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