By LOIS KINDLE
A crowd-pleasing array of decadent chocolates and paired wines will be featured in Death by Chocolate, a tantalizing fundraiser for the East Bay High School Athletic Boosters. The all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Firehouse Cultural Center, 101 First Ave. N.E., Ruskin.
This will be the second Death by Chocolate hosted by Amanda Marrero, owner of Fringe Benefits Salon. The first one held in 2015 netted about $3,000, and Marrero hopes to bring in even more this time.
“My goal is to raise at least $3,500,” she said. “The money helps defray the cost of uniforms for the school’s various athletic teams, pays for mandatory sports physicals for students in need, covers travel expenses to away games and pays for things like programs.
“I’m an East Bay alumnus, and I feel it’s important to support the school through athletics,” said Marrero, 37, who graduated in 1998. “Kids learn a lot of life lessons through sports. I know I did.”
Admission to Death by Chocolate is $20, which includes an array of chocolate-themed desserts made by members of the East Bay High School Baking Club and area bakers Tiffany Williams Wilson (Mrzstickyfingertips), Lynn Kessel and Barb Lewis; samples by PRP Wine International; hors d’oeuvres and chocolate martinis.
“If you’re a chocaholic and you want to try many different chocolate desserts, this is the event for you,” said Ruskin resident Penny Smith, co-owner of H&R Block office in Ruskin, Apollo Beach and Sun City Center. “I went to the last one and I wouldn’t miss it.”
Ruskin resident Tracy Cannon, owner of South Shore Signs, agrees.
“It was the best chocolate experience of my life,” she said of the 2015 event. “And then you add wine … it’s the perfect way to spend an evening on your own or with a date.”
Death by Chocolate will also feature live jazz music by Chuck Weirch, free photographs by a professional photographer Chris Sharp and a silent auction. Items up for grabs, which were collected by student athletes at East Bay High, include:
• a three-day Carnival cruise;
• party in a cooler;
• Nascar-themed gift basket;
• certificates for in-home wine tastings;
• and a gift certificate tree valued at $200 that features area restaurants and retailers like Beall’s, Marshall’s, East Coast Pizza, DQ and more;
• a large beauty basket featuring hair services and products from Fringe Benefits Salon worth $300;
• a year’s supply of Papa John’s Pizza; and more.
Marrero challenged the school’s numerous athletic teams to compete for the money Death by Chocolate raises by soliciting items for the auction.
“The team submitting the item that gets the highest bid wins all the money (to use as stated previously),” Marrero said.
Donna Reynolds, a representative selling LuLaRoe clothing, will donate a portion of any sales to the East Bay High School Athletic Boosters.
Tickets for Death by Chocolate can be purchased at deathbychocolate.eventzilla.net, the Firehouse Cultural Center, Fringe Benefits Salon, the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, or through any East Bay High School athletic coach. They will also be available at the door the night of the event.
For additional information, call 813-967-5811.