marcia wood not happy about beer
BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON IS THIS HAPPY HOUR? — Addressing the Orange City Council, Sorosis Club President Marcia Wood, at left, voices dismay over the city’s permitting another nonprofit organization to join in selling beer at the upcoming Independence Day celebration. The club has operated a beer concession at the event for the past decade as a fundraiser for charitable activities. The other group offering beer at the July 2 gathering is Backpack Buddies, which has also secured the city’s OK and a state license to sell on that day. Backpack Buddies is a charity founded and operated by Kelli Marks, at right, who is also vice mayor of Orange City. Between Wood and Marks are Orange City Council Members Martin Harper and Jeff Allebach.

As usual for its Independence Day celebration, Orange City’s traditional big gathering at Valentine Park will feature beer sales for those of legal drinking age.

This year, however, because of the lack of a policy on such sales at special events, two nonprofit organizations will sell and serve, rather than only one. That prospect pleased at least one partygoer who addressed the Orange City Council June 28.

“I can’t think of anything worse than standing in line on a hot day waiting for a cold beer,” Eddie Stamm told the council.

For the past 10 years, the Sorosis Club of Orange City had a monopoly on the sale of beer at the city’s holiday celebration, which, this year, will take place Saturday, July 2, at Valentine Park. The organization uses the beer concession as a fundraiser for its charitable activities and programs, especially for children. Sorosis Club President Marcia Wood said her group had already prepared to be at the celebration, just as in prior years — before the COVID-19 pandemic — unaware another group had secured the city’s blessing to sell beer.

“We have to get signed off by the city, and we have to get signed off by the [Florida] Department of Revenue, to get a one-day temporary license,” Wood noted.

The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco issues such licenses. The club’s license costs $25, she said.

Besides meeting the legal and regulatory requirements, Wood said the Sorosis Club had purchased approximately $1,000 worth of canned beer, ready to chill and sell at the July 2 event.

Unbeknownst to the club, Backpack Buddies, a charity established and headed by Vice Mayor Kelli Marks, also was planning to sell beer.

“Backpack Buddies came forward and submitted an application,” City Manager Dale Arrington said, telling the City Council they could decide “if there can be one beer vendor or no beer sales.”

“We do not have a policy on multiple alcohol vendors,” she added.

Arrington said she was “unaware” of any developing problem with competing beer sales.

Marks said her organization, known for its drive-by food distributions in Orange City, has already ordered its beer for the upcoming celebration. Marks added Backpack Buddies was ready to meet the demands of adults coming to the outdoor celebration, culminating in fireworks.

“They want to drink beer,” Marks said.

Sorosis Club members said they had learned later that Backpack Buddies was planning to sell beer.

“We were totally blindsided. We ordered our beer,” Ellee Massey told the council. “We were just totally blindsided by the city.”

The council resolved the dilemma by permitting both organizations to set up beer concessions at this year’s holiday event. At the urging of Council Member Bill O’Connor, the council urged Arrington to gather more information with the intent of setting a policy on alcoholic-beverage sales at future special events.

“If there is too much beer out there this year, we’ll know it,” Council Member Alex Tiamson said.

Before adjourning the meeting, Mayor Gary Blair wished everyone a safe holiday, and, “if you’re going to buy beer from multiple vendors, be careful.”

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