Some 1,100 diners slurped up as much soup as their tummies could take at Saturday's third annual soup-a-thon fundraiser, staged by the St. Frances Cabrini Knights of Columbus.
Sixty-seven restaurants, plus 24 Knights and St. Frances Cabrini parishioners, contributed 340 gallons of their favorite potage to ladle out — all that a $5 ticket-holder could consume during one of four 45-minute sittings.
For $1 more, those who saved space could choose a slice of cake or a cut of pie donated by home bakers and the bakeries at Publix and Winn-Dixie.
The daylong event cleared $5,500 in the soup line, $800 at the church's Respect Life Ministry bake sale and $2,800 in a raffle of 60 gift baskets.
The Knights have yet to determine which charities it supports will receive the money.
Denny Rosenberg of Spring Hill gulped when asked how many varieties of soup he had tried.
"All of them," his wife, Susan, interjected.
"Holy smoley," said Rosenberg, 70. "I feel like I did."
It was the second year he has bought a ticket for the soup-a-thon.
"I wouldn't miss it," he said. "I brought 10 people today."
His favorite at his lunchtime serving: beef and cabbage.
"It was a hearty soup," he said. "The split pea was probably the best I've ever tasted. I'm not a split pea man, but it was wonderful."
Meanwhile, Toni Thomas had just returned from the serving line as she sought a second bowl of seafood bisque.
"Plenty of seafood in it," said the 76-year-old Spring Hill resident. "Very tasty. I know because I make it (at home)."
Her repeat request was denied. The pot stood empty.
Soup-a-thon chairman Jack Hauser said the seafood concoction was the first to "sell out" at each seating.
Thirteen-year-old Haley Jessings of Spring Hill scooted from tending the raffle ticket table to visit the ladling line, from which she already had sampled the bisque and the crab-and-corn soup.
"If you guys get the hot-and-sour," she ordered the servers, "come and get me."
After spending a half-hour with her spoon in a soup bowl, 5-year-old Genevieve Barreto of Weeki Wachee took her fork to a slice of chocolate and vanilla layer cake, saying it was her favorite taste of the day.
"I like it all the time. It's me," she said.
Which soups had she sampled?
Genevieve looked to her parents. Dad, Paul Barreto, rattled off: "Pasta e fagioli, Italian wedding, stuffed pepper, seafood, Italian chicken vegetable.
"We shared," he added.
On Monday, Hauser and other Knights prepared to phone winners of the raffle. The drawing took place Sunday evening, after an additional sale of chances Sunday.
He noted that the quart-sized receptacle into which the hopefuls deposited their tickets for a $1,000-plus tricycle-built-for-two had to be stuffed down twice.
One chance taker, he said, bought $100 worth of 25-for-$5 tickets, pushing them all into the pot.
He didn't win, Hauser lamented.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]