RALEIGH, N.C. — Organizers and attendees at this year’s Crape Myrtle Gala on Saturday, Aug. 1 were treated to a scare of humorous proportions.
As community members entertained themselves listening to comedian Leslie Jordan in the old All Saints Chapel sanctuary above and chatting away in the reception room below, some of the historic venue’s floor joists cracked and began to give way.
Wooden beams were visibly cracked and splintered from the reception room below. But Crape Myrtle chair Ron Stephenson said the damage was very minor, and no one was ever in jeopardy.
“Architects and the property management came out to the site quickly and they put up supports in the basement just to make sure nothing was a problem,” Stephenson told Q-Notes. He said none of the main supporting structures were damaged and the floor was never close to collapse. He said a prior event at the chapel the weekend before might have weakened the floor, with more damage becoming apparent at the Crape Myrtle event.
Despite the slight scare, Stephenson said the hundreds of attendees and comedian Leslie Jordan made the best of the situation.
“Leslie Jordan, God bless his soul, he is so good,” Stephenson said. “He went right along with the flow. He made jokes about the floor: ‘I hope my little tiny self doesn’t fall through,’ he said.”
Stephenson and other organizers directed gala attendees to the event’s outdoor tent, where they set up a six foot table as a make-shift stage. “Leslie Jordan went up on the tables and he did his show like he was on a 40-foot stage,” he said.
The event attracted about 600 people, Stephenson said. “People were still coming into the event and buying tickets 30 minutes before it ended,” he said. “It was just so unreal. People were really pumped up about it.”
Stephenson said he thinks this year’s gala was the “best in 10 years.” Advance tickets sales stood at about $20,000 and Stephenson expects the final figures could be as high as $50,000 or more. Applications for Crape Myrtle grant funds are due in September and the group will make final decisions on the grant recipients by the end of the year.
The Crape Myrtle Festival held several fundraising events prior to the Aug. 1 gala.
Stephenson said the floor incident gives everyone a unique story to tell. “It gives everyone a great story and every can just laugh,” he said. “We all had a wonderful time, with wonderful food, great attendance, great drinks and great music.”