A Cruise for Water on Lake Erie
By Pat McKenna, Executive Committee Chair of the Northeast Ohio Sierra Group.
One of our recent successes was the "Sunset Dinner Cruise" aboard Lake Erie's largest cruise ship, the Goodtime III. The lake cruise included dining and an environmental/political satirist folk singer. By holding this event, we were able to enhance our relationship with one of our major supporters by choosing water as our main topic. We created club awareness by reaching non-members, we generated camaraderie amongst the ranks, and we raised awareness of our greatest environmental asset here in northeast Ohio -– Lake Erie!
The event drew more than 100 people. When disembarking, EVERYONE said they "can't wait until next year's cruise!" and that they all "had a wonderful time." These comments were enough to make us commit to making it an annual event and plan the next one for August 2012.
One of the major factors in putting this together was early planning. We had monthly meetings with task assignments and reports from each member on their assignment. We never gave up. When one of us got discouraged, the others worked to get us back on track and forge ahead. However, we learned that tabling events months in advance to sell tickets to our cruise did not pay off. People didn’t really start buying tickets until two to three weeks prior to the event.
We kept advertising leading up to the event, even placing an advertisement with the local NPR station. We also developed a one-sixth page ad that was easy and inexpensive to hand out to anyone, anywhere. It was something a person could put in his or her pocket or purse to take home, where they can make a note of the date, time, and location of the event. We could take these small slips of paper with us everywhere we went to hand them out.
Because we were on a ship, we did not need to hire entertainment. Most people walked around the outside decks, enjoying the fresh air.
Menus are very important. Our club has lots of vegetarians and vegans. We probably didn’t need to serve any meat products at all and would have saved money on the food. In hindsight, we were told that the caterers will work with us if we contact them long enough in advance and will make things we’d like to have that are not on their menu. We plan to gather recipes in the coming months to send to caterers.
Since we had 112 participants, we plant to make next year’s event a fundraiser with the hopes of doubling attendance at a minimum.