GRANITE CITY — St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church Picnic got a celebrity guest on June 11.
Jacob Long was the celebrity caller for a game called I Dood It. Long, a Granite City native, works as a multimedia journalist for KSDK-TV in St. Louis.
“That was kind of fun,” picnic chairman Dennis Riggs said. “It was good to see him because he’s a graduate from Granite City.”
Long’s appearance was one of the biggest highlights at this year’s St. Elizabeth picnic, which wrapped up its 38th year.
“It was really neat,” said Megan Dittman, who was one of the picnic’s chairpersons. “It was even better that he was a Granite City native and he likes to boast about his own community and promote what we have here in our great town because so often people highlight the negatives that we have. So it was nice to have a switch. It’s nice to get him in there to talk about the positives.”
This year’s picnic lasted from June 10-12 under hot and humid conditions. Riggs said he was pleased with the turnout.
“The picnic worked wonderfully because we were able to control the crowd,” said Riggs, who has been the picnic chairman for 28 years. “The Granite City police said it was the smoothest, best-run picnic that we ever had here.”
Riggs said there was tight security to prevent loiterers from entering the property.
“We fenced in the property and we had to put gates up,” he said. “You had to enter through a gate. People didn’t understand how that was working, so some people avoided the picnic. We spent some money for the safety for not only for the parishioners and their families, but for the community and their families that came to the picnic. I had a lady cop who came and told me that it’s the first time in our picnic that she let her 12- and 13-year-old (children) go on the rides by themselves on Saturday night.”
There was music from local bands such as Butch Wax & The Hollywoods, Well Hungarians, Flipside Classic Rock, SMASH Band and Celebrity Mug Shots. Butch Wax & The Hollywoods was the first band to perform on Friday.
“It was one of the best lineups that we had in several years,” Riggs said.
There also were rides, games, food and activities such as face-painting and a 5K run.
On Sunday, the picnic had the World Bird Sanctuary, where patrons get to see a bald eagle, a falcon, an owl, a hawk and a raven.
“They were letting people touch them and see them,” Riggs said. “The kids loved it.”
The Serengeti Steve Reptile Show of Ballwin, Mo., also made an appearance on Sunday.
“I’m going to have him back next year on Sunday, too, because the kids loved it,” Riggs said. “He had 10 different reptiles with him. He had an alligator, he had a tarantula and he had an 8-foot anaconda. It was a very educational experience for the kids.”
Long, who graduated from GCHS in 2005, has been working at KSDK since August 2015. He worked more than two years in Jacksonville, Fla., before returning to the St. Louis area almost a year ago.
Dittman said she contacted Long through a friend almost two weeks before the picnic began.
“We were very lucky to have him,” Dittman said. “He originally was supposed to be out of town during the funeral of Muhammad Ali and plans had changed at the last minute, so he was still able to join us and he was excited to see what the game was all about. I hope in the future, I could get some other celebrities to help me call some games.”
I Dood It is similar to bingo.
“You throw red rubber balls and you have a sequence like bingo where it’s across the top, diagonally or horizontally, that means ‘You Dood It’ and you won,” Riggs said. “All of the prizes were handmade or donations from local business like oil changes or dinner or two or bobbleheads or whatever we get.”
Dittman said I Dood It is a popular game at the picnic.
“That game has been around for about 19 years, I believe,” she said. “I think it was started by the past chairman, Dennis Wilmsmeyer, and Alice Loftus with some help from George Friedel, the parishioner at our church. George is the one who built boxes and it’s been a family tradition since then. It’s a parish tradition. We’ve got people who come from all over to play and I got people who camp out all day. I get stopped in Schnucks in the middle of February and they tell me they’re ready for a game of I Dood It. It’s fun and it’s a game for everyone.”
St. Elizabeth had its first picnic in 1979. The picnic is scheduled the weekend before Father’s Day in June.
“I look forward to the picnic every year,” Riggs said. “On Monday, when we’re done tearing it down, I’m glad it’s over. Then, I start looking forward to it again here in a few months. I start planning next year’s picnic in August. I’ll look forward to 2017.”