The Chronicle

DARTMOUTH – A last-minute surge in demand caused the ticket sales for the Lloyd Center for the Environment’s annual clambake fundraiser to soar beyond all expectations, resulting in a sell-out for the fifth-year in a row. Last Friday night saw South Coast residents and guests from all over New England joining forces at CLAMBAKE XXIII, “Simply the Best!” raising funds to meet the growing demand for the Center’s education and research programs.

Seven hundred fifty supporters dined on traditional New England boiled lobster dinner and danced the night away to music by the popular “Men in Black”. Bidding-high on an impressive collection of over 100 items and services donated for the event’s much anticipated Silent Auction, these celebrating supporters made it clear that they care deeply about backing the Center’s ongoing efforts to protect the fragile nature of the area’s coastal ecosystems.

Early in the morning of the day preceding the big event, with the sun just above the horizon, Event Manager Andrew Simpson and his team of the Center’s loyal volunteers went straight to work at the challenging task of transforming the huge paved beachside parking lot of Demarest Lloyd State Park into a spectacular and elegant dinner-dance setting, designed expressly for this group of important supporters.

Photo banners illustrating outstanding features of the Lloyd Center’s work were hung high in the majestic peaks of the huge Newport-style tent. Hand-painted surfboards and “flip flop” beach shoes set the festive “Catch the Wave” theme. Seventy-five tables were set with candles floating in three-tiered glass centerpieces, palm fronds, sea-shells and hibiscus blossoms.

Guest’s chairs were adorned with “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse” shopping bags and customized Clambake XXIII hats bearing a whimsical “surfing clam”. Outside the tent, a restored, vintage 1967 Mustang Convertible carrying surfboards, a classic “Woody” beach wagon and an environmentally friendly 2009 Toyota Prius from the presenting sponsor, Toyota of Dartmouth, established the “beach” theme for arriving guests.

For many years, the Lloyd Center’s Clambake and Silent Auction has marked the official start of the summer season for South Coast revelers. Despite the air of fun and frivolity, everyone at the Center take the event’s continual success very seriously.

Executive Director D’Arcy MacMahon spoke from the heart when he addressed the Center’s supporters, “Thirty years ago, Karen Lloyd had a dream of creating a first-rate environmental education center here on the South Coast of Massachusetts. Over the years, her sister Angelica and members of her family have moved that dream forward, providing incentive for others to join in support of the Center. Today, we are honored to have legions of new members who truly understand the need to protect our coastlines. Without the support of each of you,” he told the assembled throng, “we could not be reaching as many as 15,000 children each year, nor providing the research services for which there is such a growing demand.”

MacMahon also thanked Rusty and Marky Shapleigh, past co-chairs of the clambake committee for their hard work, and Stephanie Erickson, chair of this year’s committee. Other members of this year’s hardworking committee include Barbara Ferri, Sandra Hall, Mary Ellen Hawes Lees, Mary Mandeville, Carlin Moroney, Tina Nauman and Event Managers Andrew Simpson and Don Douglas.

Founded in 1978 and situated with its headquarters overlooking Dartmouth’s Slocum River, one of southeastern New England’s most spectacular estuaries, the Lloyd Center for the Environment has achieved a well-earned reputation for excellence in environmental research and education. Through its innovative outreach programs, it has established itself as a leader in the ongoing effort to raise awareness of the area’s fragile coastal resources and the importance of protecting them.

With extraordinary water views and five miles of hiking trails through unspoiled forest and salt-marshes to be discovered at its coastal nature preserve, the Lloyd Center offers a variety of recreational and educational opportunities for families, birders, school-children, hikers, scientists and nature enthusiasts of all ages.

The Hardscrabble Nature Preserve and Visitors Center, with its new Nature-View Tower, are open to the public, without charge, at 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth, MA. Live nature exhibits can be seen 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Sunday. Trails are open from dawn to dusk.