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Fun Brigade tries new things monthly

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image Some of the group of Fun Brigade members that put on a Vintage Style Show at the United Community Church Sept. 6, pause before the show to talk about their clothes. Each outfit had special memories for the people who wore it. Penny Fletcher Photo

Anyone may come out and have fun.


SOUTH COUNTY — Back in January, some people in the congregation of United Community Church in Sun City Center put on their thinking caps trying to come up with new ways to accomplish old goals.

Ways to have fun together in a group setting and outreach to the entire South County community were high on their list.

“We wanted to do something that included people from Ruskin and Riverview and all the other places around here,” said Paula Lickfeldt, who heads the group with the help of Karl Buffington.

“Karl takes care of anything financial, supplies, money. While I do the organizational things to arrange our events,” Paula said. “We both have the title of co-chair, but we’re really very informal. We don’t have meetings. We are here to do fun things and reach out to others who may not be involved with any church.”

The Fun Brigade is not restricted to church members or to Sun City Center residents.

It is also not restricted to retirees.

“Anyone may come out and have fun,” Paula said.

In fact, they are looking to attract more people from the communities outside Sun City Center where the church is located at 1501 La Jolla Avenue.

After a couple of months of thought, the group formed in March.

“It was really an outgrowth of what we had been having as Fantastic Fridays,” Paula explained. “For five or six years, there had been an activity called Fantastic Fridays where there were dinner theaters. I was on the church council and I inherited Fantastic Fridays about two years ago. I wanted something that went on year round, because not everybody goes north for the summer.”

In the summer, there are still a lot of people in Sun City Center, she said.

Once the idea of the Fun Brigade was born, including outreach became an integral part.  

“We’ve had events where some people have come from communities around us,” she said. “We’ve even had some where they’ve brought their grandchildren and we’ve come up with things for them to do.”

The group does not make money but just takes in enough to cover expenses for events.

“We have a real exciting line-up planned all the way until January 2013,” she told me. “We have to plan pretty far out to get things on the church calendar because this is such a busy church.”

‘Surviving the Summer’ cinema and Fantastic Fridays meals were fun, she said. But the best event so far has been the dedication of a church bell given to them by a congregation in Valrico.

“On May 31 we held the dedication, accompanied by a dinner where dessert was made in  a men’s bake-off. The contest was really a wonderful surprise.”

Categories for desserts included the most decadent, which turned out to be Clare Fenney’s Nanaimo bars, which had layer upon layer of dark chocolate. Other categories included the healthiest, which was won by Tom Mitchell for his yogurt blueberry pie.

All together 18 men took part and more than 80 people attended and ate.

The group also had a “grab bag bingo” day that went over well and will definitely be repeated, Paula said.

“Christmas caroling was also fun and we’re going to do it again this year,” she said. People sign up and are split into groups to go to local assisted living facilities and nursing homes that ask for them. They also plan a holiday fashion show, where everyone will wear their holiday clothing from ornament ear rings to lighted Happy New Year T shirts.

“We hope to get enough people to go to shut-ins at home and not just nursing homes this year,” she added.

In April, there will be an ethnic potluck. People from all over South County are encouraged to remember their favorite dishes from family traditions while growing up or something from their ethnic background.

I met the Fun Brigade during their Vintage Style Show Sept. 6.

While most of the clothing from eras and events gone by was just for fun, the stories behind others were bittersweet.

Alyce Mills showed off a purple-and-white gown made in Germany by her great grandmother. Next to the gown was a photograph of Alyce’s mother wearing it. Alyce was obviously proud of both, and her conversation quickly showed how much she missed them.

Another interesting story involved the beautiful wedding gown brought by Marlus Johns for her marriage in 1966. She told me she had worn it again on her 39th wedding anniversary in 2005 two weeks before her husband died.

Hazel Martin wore a gown she had bought when she was mother of the groom in 1987 and Lois Stone posed with her in a gown she had worn as mother of the bride in 1990.

Both men and women take part in the Fun Brigade’s events.

To find out more about the Fun Brigade, call the church at 813-634-1304.

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