By Matt Wiley

“It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!” Well, you may not be able to stay there, but you can come watch some football, enjoy a few cocktails and support a good cause.

On Saturday, October 13, the New Tampa Family YMCA will host its eighth annual “Saturday Night Lights” fund-raising event beginning at 7 p.m., in which all of the proceeds will go towards helping less fortunate children and families of the community to be able to use the New Tampa YMCA, which is located off of Compton Dr. in Tampa Palms.

“We’ve already met our goal for the year,” says Jennifer Berenyi, special events coordinator for the Y. “Each year, we set a goal for our annual community support campaign. This year, we met our goal of $30,000 early, so this event will allow us to just keep on raising more money.”

The event, which began eight years ago with a more formal “Passport to Paradise” theme, has since evolved into “Saturday Night Lights,” with a tailgating theme, which invites those that attend to don their favorite team’s colors or jersey — in this case, college football — and root them on as games are aired on several large TV screens.

“This theme allows people to come in wearing their favorite casual sports gear and still have a good time at the Y,” says Berenyi.

Although the dress code is somewhat more casual than the old “dress to impress” required for the “Passport to Paradise” events, the facility, which is usually echoing with the clanging of weights and the dribbling of basketballs, will take on the appearance of a banquet hall, right in the middle of the New Tampa Y’s basketball court. Dancing is encouraged, as a DJ will be present to keep the party moving.

“We do some serious ‘makeover magic’ on the court,” says Berenyi.

A dinner also will be served, with catering provided by several local eateries, including Ciccio’s California Cuisine, the Texas Roadhouse, Cakes by Laiza and more, followed by a “Must See” silent auction that, Berenyi says, never ceases to amaze, with its variety of spectacular items up for bids.

Tickets for the eighth annual “Saturday Night Lights” at the New Tampa YMCA cost $50 in advance for general admission; $75 for MVP tickets (which include a seat at a table, as well as priority checkout following the silent auction); or $750 for a table of 10 MVP seats.

Tickets can be purchased online at YMCASaturdayNight For more information, including sponsorship inquiries or table purchases, or info about the New Tampa Family YMCA (16221 Compton Dr.), please call Jen at 866-9622.

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