Published 1:53 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bass works behind scenes at fundraiser

When the doors of the Kiwanis Center open Saturday and local students take the stage in their Cookies With Characters roles, there will be countless volunteers working in the background to ensure that the annual fundraiser for Meredith’s Miracles comes off without a hitch.

Count Andalusia High School freshman Rosemary Bass among them. Bass, the daughter of Tripp and Regina Bass, is serving as junior director for the fourth year running.

Cookies with Characters director Kylie Spears said she picked her for the job.

“Basically, I’ve known Rosemary since she was a baby,” Spears said. “She and (my son) Dalton are the same age. I’ve watched her personality, and knew she could do it.”

Spears said Bass had hard acts to follow in former assistant directors Carson Posey and Sara Atkinson.

“When they were graduating, I panicked,” Spears said. “But Rosemary was right at the right age. People don’t think a sixth grader can handle something like that, but they can.”

In her role, Bass helps recruit students to try out for characters’ roles; texts them to remind them of tryouts or practices; keeps up with information about sponsorships; and helps with general organization. As the countdown to Saturday’s show continues, the two directors were putting the finishing touches on a PowerPoint slide show highlighting sponsors. Thursday, they’ll begin dress rehearsal and be ready to open the doors Saturday morning.

If someone shows up Saturday to volunteer, Spears said, “I’ll tell them to go find Rosemary. She’ll keep up with the list of things to be done.”

This year’s show will be more of a parade of characters than a play.

“We have a circus theme,” Bass said. “John Reid McGlamory is the ringmaster.”

“We’re pulling it from The Greatest Showman,” Spears said. “The characters will dance to their songs. We’ve had a lot of requests to bring back the songs and dancing.”

There will be 200 to 250 volunteers working on Saturday, some in character, some as guides, some selling souvenirs, others serving cookies. Bass said for her it is all fun. With fair hair and blue eyes, she could easily land the role of Cinderella.

“When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a character. But after I got started with this, I never thought of being a character,” Bass said. “I love being on the floor.”

The director and assistant director talk about the fundraiser al year long, but the conversation amps up in December when they begin planning a show and scheduling tryouts. By Feb. 1, they are constantly busy. Bass also finds time for colorguard, volleyball, Peer Helpers, the FCCLA, and the youth group at Andalusia’s First Baptist Church. She also plays guitar and sings, and plans to become a pediatric nurse.

“I’ve met so many different people,” she says of her Cookies with Characters job. “It’s really fun.”

Doors open at 11 a.m. Saturday for the noon show, which closes at 2:30 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m. For the 5 p.m. show, which closes at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person and includes a cookie, the show, and access to characters for photographs and autographs. Spears said she has deliberately kept the price low so that as many children as possible can attend. She encourages parents and grandparents to bring money for the extras that will be on sale inside.

Cookies with Characters is the biggest fundraiser for Meredith’s Miracles, which assists parents with non-medical expenses when their children have to leave the area for specialty care. In the past year, the charity has assisted 166 families with $57,13 in support. In the 12 years of its existence, it has assisted more than 1,000 families with more than $551,000 in support.