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Sweet charity

Church, even preacher, goes all chocolatey to raise $2,500

Church, even preacher, goes all chocolatey to raise $2,500

February 10, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SMITHSBURG - Fidgeting children clutched dollar bills and smiled impishly, savoring the prospect of lobbing a chocolate pie in the face of their clergyman.

Pastor Gerry Johnson slipped his head through a garbage bag and dutifully took his place before the crowd. This was the second of three rounds of Pie in the Eye he would endure throughout the day.

Not a typical Sunday offering, indeed, but a worthwhile venture nonetheless, Johnson conceded.

Of all the children who paid for a chance to wallop the pastor, Nolan Zahm won the honors. Johnson knelt to give the 6-year-old a better aim. Nolan seized the pie, lined up his shot, then - POW - right in the kisser!

Chocolate whipped cream splattered into the air and the crowd roared with laughter.

"The kids seem to enjoy it and participate in it. That's the upside. It's a lot of fun, and believe it or not, it helps build relationships," Johnson said.

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Such was the spirit at the third annual Chocolate Festival at Trinity Lutheran Church in Smithsburg Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The festival was a fundraiser to support a youth missions trip. Along with the Pie in the Eye feature were old-fashioned cake walks, a chocolate cookie baking contest, a silent auction and sales of all things chocolate.

Twelve-year-old Colton Duvall of Smithsburg indulged in chocolate fudge, while Chris Mitchell, 15, devoured a chocolate peanut butter brownie. Nearby, Christian Rejonis, 14, savored a still-warm peanut-covered brownie.

"I like coming here and talking to people and eating chocolate," Rejonis said. "Everybody loves chocolate."

Keith and Virginia Forrester of Smithsburg donned T-shirts with the Hershey's Milk Chocolate logo. Virginia snatched some brownies while Keith scored white and dark chocolate-covered strawberries with sprinkles. Then they set their sights on the boxed chocolates.

Downstairs in the church basement, Ann Shilling of Smithsburg led children in making crafts and valentines adorned with, of course, chocolate. Just beyond them in the next room, the film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" played on the TV.

Josie Snyder, 9, of Hagerstown, attended the festival with her grandmother, Janice Jamison. Josie made a craft while she looked forward to using the chocolate fondue fountain.

"I like the pretzels covered in chocolate fondue. I think it's fun," she said.

Lianetta Ruettgers, 70, went to the festival with a group from Manassas, Va. Ruettgers said Johnson used to be a pastor at her church.

"We came up to see the festival. We know about the chocolate festival so we said, 'Let's get a little busload.' We've had a great time. I even won a cake in the cake walk. A chocolate cake. The best one!" Ruettgers said.

Johnson said he expected the festival to draw more than 300 people and to raise around $2,500.

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