Annual event attracts hundreds for good cause

Published 6:45 pm Saturday, July 23, 2016

Amid the glow of lanterns hung from the ceiling and the chatter of the more than 350 people in attendance, Vicksburg got its groove on.

Thanks to the third annual Ritz on the River event held at the Vicksburg Convention Center Thursday night, community members had the opportunity to enjoy an evening out featuring dinner and a dance floor.

“To me every year, the enthusiasm is there, and it’s contagious. It’s just a feel-good event,” Annette Kirklin, executive director of the convention center, said.

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The event featured Georgia-based cover band Rupert’s Orchestra, which played an array of hits ranging from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson to Beyoncé.

“We’re very versatile. We can do all Top 40, all swing. We’re all about getting people up to dance,” band leader Mark Coughlin said.

And get up to dance they did.

But for all the fun happening in the VCC Thursday night, the event served purposes extending further than the dance floor.

“This is one of the best parts of the city of Vicksburg. The purpose is to come out have a good time and at the same time give a contribution to this community,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

A portion of Ritz’s proceeded will be donated toward Vicksburg’s Leader in Me initiative, which implements leadership-based learning within local schools.

Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Chad Shealey said to those attending the event, “You get to be part of something that changes the trajectory of a child’s life.”

In addition to the benefit to local schools, the event also serves as an opportunity to show off the city to event planners looking to host conferences and other activities in the convention center. Kirklin said Ritz has led to eight VCC bookings.

“That economic impact means a lot to this city,” she said, thanking all of the community sponsors that made the event possible, including Mutual Credit Union, Ergon, Lady Luck Casino and C Spire.

Those in attendance said the event served as a way to break up the workweek and catch up with friends.

“The food was delicious and it’s a great time,” Gwen Windham said. “We came for the food, the music and to catch up. They played (some of) what they had back when I was young about a hundred years ago.”