Giggling gals with glittery gams go gambling with gregarious gangsters for the 35th Annual Casino Night

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Giggling gals with glittery gams go gambling with gregarious gangsters for the 35th Annual Casino Night

Shannon Edmonds

Vincent Graziano, Neomi Hennessy, Katie Foster, Ashley Fraser, and Hayes Johnson pose for the camera

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The cold, misty night outside could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the gamblers present at Johnson State College’s 35th Annual Casino Night, held this year on March 16 from 8 p.m. to midnight.

A crowded Stearns dining hall was beautifully lit by the Dibden crew with blue and reddish-orange lights. Carnival lights festooned the catwalks, lending an almost outdoors feel to the event. Big band music, including some great Gershwin brothers hits, played over the speakers.

The theme, Prohibition, led to arguably the best-dressed Casino Night that has ever hit the campus. Attendees came dressed in anything from current-day clothing to pinstripe suits complete with matching fedoras, women in full flapper regalia, fantastic wing-tipped shoes, and one lavender colored box adorned with a tie.

The box, inhabited by Todd Loskutoff, was polite about his predicament. “I was worried I didn’t have anything nice to wear, so I made this to cover my street clothes,” he said.

Katie Foster, a JSC alum who returned for the night to find old friends and revisit old times, looked as if she had walked straight out of a speakeasy in a fantastically yellow-and-black striped flapper dress and over-the-top beaded necklaces. The outfit, purchased from Old Gold in Burlington, was on loan from her sister. “I feel like a bumblebee,” Foster laughed.

The event was once again coordinated by the Student Government Association. All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the United Way of Lamoille County, a community-service organization based in Morrisville, Vt.

United Way, led by Executive Director Dawn Archbold, has pioneered programs like the Firewood Project and a prescription discount program.

Tickets cost $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Once inside, attendees had their hands marked and received a commemorative glass with $500 fake gambling money inside.

It was then up to them to gamble their way to fame and fortune at the games available in the dining hall, which included blackjack, poker, and a roulette wheel, run for the first half of the night by Miss Vermont 2011, Katie Levasseur.

Other dealers included staff, students and faculty, such as senior Travis Snyder, Public Safety officer Mike Palagonia, Psychology professor Gina Mireault and Coordinator of Residential Living Jeff Bickford.

Those who felt like shmoozing rather than going broke had plenty of ways to do so. A photo booth was available for pictures with friends at a minimum donation of $1. Cheaters at the games had to sit in a gloomy looking “JAIL” booth for at least two minutes.

For those lucky enough to be over 21, a single wet gambling area was available in one of the conference rooms adjoining the dining hall.

For the rest of the attendees who had to go dry, the JSC Ultimate Frisbee Club provided Italian sodas and water, sometimes offering drinks throughout the crowd on silver trays. The food was fantastic and widely varied, including crab rangoons, jalapeno poppers, tiny sandwiches, and a chocolate fountain and plenty of goodies to dip in it.

The night was wrapped up by a rousing auction, which began around 11 p.m. Those who had done well during the night could now use their fake fortunes to win real prizes, so long as they bid the highest. All prizes were items donated from local businesses and could be absolutely anything.

The auctioneer, SGA Senator Jessica Pafumi, egged on audience members to bid higher and higher as Senators Colin Santee and Aly Finn displayed the goods. “Come on guys, don’t let it stop there!” she’d cry as the bidding slowed, and if the bidding was hot, she’d challenge, “Are you really going to let them take that away from you?”

A small sample of items included a giant bag of dog food, Long Trail maps for hikers, a $25 gift certificate to the Hub, Green Mountain Coffee samples, a gift certificate to the Jeffersonville restaurant The Family Table, and a pair of tickets for a wine-and-cheese tasting at Boyden Valley.

The Boyden tickets, possibly the most fiercely bid-for and expensive items of the night, were carried away by lucky couple Nick Cooper and Madeleine Gibbons.

It was difficult to leave the warm and inviting dining hall to go back into the rain outside once the event was over. Fortunately, gamblers only have to wait until next March to do it all over again.

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