The tables were set and the drinks were on deck Sunday afternoon as volunteers and staff awaited the crowds for the annual Gervais Street Bridge Dinner. 

Members of Columbia and West Columbia communities joined together on the Gervais Street Bridge, a connector of the two cities, for an evening of fun and food. Event sponsors and VIP guests began arriving at 3 p.m., followed by general admission an hour later. 

Southern Way Catering provided the meal, consisting of a variety of passed appetizers and a main dish of cornish hen, mashed potatoes and green beans with feta cheese and tomatoes. A homemade cookie for dessert by Ally & Eloise was placed at each seat in a pre-wrapped baggie. 

This year's bridge dinner was coordinated by local nonprofit Carolina Together, whose mission is to manage and maintain premiere fundraising events for the community. Marketing and communications director, Neil Boone, said he was so appreciative to all who took part in the event. 

"I think everybody enjoyed coming out and getting to spend time with the community, friends and family - even if they were in their 'pods' and doing it safely. We all just got to come together for these seven causes the bridge dinner benefits," he said. 

As opposed to years past where individual tickets were sold, the 2021 tickets were sold per table. All tables were spaced with gaps in between, to encourage social distancing and maintain safety for each group of guests. Hand sanitizing stations were located on the bridge and individual sanitizers at each table. Masks were required when not eating or drinking. 

West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles said he was appreciative to work alongside Columbia to help put on the event. "I am so happy these two cities have come together to welcome back social activity, and happy folks are having the opportunity to get out and remember what it's like to embrace everything that's wonderful about our shared space," he said. 

WIS TV's Judi Gatson emceed for the evening and the Reggie Sullivan Band entertained the crowd. Each table was decorated with live spring florals, created by Front Door Studios and accompanied by begonias from Gardener's Outpost. 

Funds from the dinner will be used to help support local organizations Serve & Connect, The River Alliance, Canoeing for Kids, The River District, Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc., The West Columbia Beautification Foundation and the City of Columbia Beautification and Forestry.

Boone said they have plans to continue developing and adding to the bridge dinner each year. "This is one of the marquee events in the Midlands, and we want to keep it that way and let it just keep growing from here," he said. 

The next Gervais Street Bridge Dinner is being planned for the fall. Boone said to stay tuned for details on the event's Facebook page

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