The 31st edition of the Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon takes place over three nights this year, from March 12-14.SUN / JOHN COLLINS Sun staff
The 31st edition of the Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon takes place over three nights this year, from March 12-14. SUN / JOHN COLLINS

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

DRACUT -- Despite an opening-night power outage that forced producers of the Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon to cram four nights of entertainment and fundraising into three, the event still managed last March to generate a record $133,000 to fund 54 college scholarships for Dracut students.

This year, organizers of the 31st edition of Dracut's signature, annual fundraising event have scheduled it to be broadcast on Dracut Access TV for only three nights. But it's not because they anticipate another power outage, or because they want to push their luck.

The event was shortened -- it's March 12-14, a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- in advance, as organizers await construction of the new Dracut High School to be finished, according to DSF President Donna Yackel.

"It's three nights because of the limited venue that's currently available to us at Dracut High School," she said. "We'll have the DATV studio, the choral room and limited lobby space to do our live performances by smaller groups, but we're not going to have the auditorium for larger groups."

Yackel said the larger school bands and musical groups will still perform and be seen in this year's telethon. However, it will occur by way of having DATV pre-record their performances at Lakeview Junior High School ahead of time, and inserting video playbacks during the telethon.

The Scholarship Foundation's fundraising goal heading into last year's telethon was $100,000; organizers decided to raise this year's bar a bit higher, to $110,000, despite its being scheduled for only three nights, and performers having to make do with limited venues.


Advertisement

"I don't believe it will be a big handicap in reaching our goal again this year, because last year, despite the power outage, we were still able to get all the talent in front of the cameras, and reach our fundraising goal," Yackel said.

Last week, organizers were busy sending out letters to area businesses hoping to recruit as many platinum and signature telethon sponsors as possible, Yackel said.

Meanwhile, producers are continuing to work on coming up with broadcast surprises, game shows and fundraising "challenges."

One particular challenge that worked well previously involved Dracut High Principal Richard Manley offering to dye his hair blue if seniors raised "X" amount of dollars, Yackel said.

Another popular skit that will return to this year's telethon is "Dracut Cab," modeled after the hit TV show "Cash Cab," with a host seated in a mock cab, quizzing passengers.

"Jim Buxton will open the show, as he has every year for the last 30-odd years, and Gary Meuse will be back at the controls," said Yackel.

The telethon is scheduled for the second week in March so as not to conflict with high-school exams a week later, and because it coincides with college spring break. This enables some of Meuse's most valuable volunteer TV crew members to work the marathon telecast during their week off.

Yackel noted the 31st annual Dracut Scholarship Telethon may be viewed live not only by residents on DATV's channels 8 and 22, but anyone can watch the live-stream broadcast online at www.dracutscholarship.org.

Follow John Collins on Twitter and Tout at johncolowellsun.