Ahot and steamy September 4 set the stage for the final 1st Thursday celebration of 2008. Hosted by the 104-member Del Ray Business Association, the crowds were huge and the bottled water plentiful.
Several special events highlighted the Cuisine on the Avenue theme. The first was a cookie-baking contest, with 12 entries for the judges panel, composed of Rep. Jim Moran (D-8), Liz Davis of The Dairy Godmother and Del Ray resident Lauren Smith, to sample.
Winner in the best-looking cookie category were the peanut butter cookies by Amanda Cutts. The winning chocolate chip cookie was submitted by Nora Buehler and the most creative cookie, named Surprise for the whole marshmallow in its center, was entered by Heather Martin.
Eight of Del Rays favorite restaurants submitted entries for the Best of Del Ray entre and dessert contests. Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and Councilman Justin Wilson judged, and after ingesting enough calories to take them through Halloween, they made their decision.
The Del Merei Grilles strawberry shortcake was the dessert winner, while there was a tie for best entre. Del Merei Grilles tenderloin tips, fried oysters and haricot verts shared top honors with the pork tenderloin with pancetta hash and potatoes from La Strada. Both restaurants will receive a Best of Del Ray banner.
Businesses stayed open late and there was food and musical entertainment stretching along the Avenue from Natures Nibbles to Fireflies. The band Folkadelic provided entertainment throughout the evening at the Farmers Market.
As always, there was special recognition for charitable work in the community. The two nonprofits selected for the final 1st Thursday honors of 2008 were Alive! and Meals on Wheels.
The highlight of the night was the lemonade stand personed by Camila Cardwell, Melanie Oliva, Owen Cardwell and Guy Cardwell. These young Del Ray entrepreneurs pledged to donate a portion of their proceeds to Meals on Wheels and Alive! Last month, they donated a portion of their proceeds to help purchase mosquito netting for African children and to a Caribbean poverty alleviation program.