VIRGINIA CITY - Twenty entries, including a driving dog, classic cars and people wearing the clothing of Virginia City's heyday, sauntered down C Street Monday during the Labor Day parade. But the focus had shifted to Hurricane Katrina.
Despite the low turnout, the event was the perfect opportunity for a Reno couple to introduce "Katrina's Hope, The Open Door Relocation Project," a charity set up to help survivors of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf States now staying in shelters in Arizona.
"A thousand families relocated to Phoenix, and our donations will be trucked directly there to them," said Andy Geraci.
Geraci, whose wife, Tammi, was the force behind the grass-roots fund-raising effort, said major charity organizations are asking for monetary donations, but Open Door is asking for anything.
"Money, clothing, furniture, food will all go to families in Phoenix who have opened their homes to the hurricane victims," he said. "We are also looking for people here who are willing to open their homes for a three-month stay to these families and help them recover their lives."
The hurricane was a popular topic among parade-goers.
Mark and Debra Quam, who recently purchased a Victorian home on the Comstock, said they donated money to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals because they were worried animals displaced by the flooding weren't being cared for.
"The people there don't have much of a voice," Mark said.
"And the animals have no voice," Debra added. "I'm really concerned with all the people having to leave their pets. You don't know what's going to happen to them."
The parade's grand marshal, Max Baer Jr., former TV actor and aspiring Carson City casino owner, engaged in a conversation after the parade with onlookers concerning the catastrophe.
"The water is just filled with things," he could be heard telling a group of women.
Tammi Geraci said her organization raised $700 during the day, and Baer had offered use of his vacant former Wal-Mart building in Carson City for storage. Five people also signed up to open a room in their home for evacuees. She said if families are relocated to Nevada, the collections will stay in the state.
Katrina's Hope will be back in Virginia City this weekend during the Camel Races, accepting both money and clothing donations.
"There's a million possibilities here for us to help," she said.
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
You Can Help
Katrina's Hope, The Open Door Relocation Project, is collecting food, clothing, vehicles phone cards and cash for families relocated to Arizona from the Gulf Coast.
To make a donation, call (775) 691-4039 or drop off items at the group's truck Saturday and Sunday on C Street during the Virginia City Camel Races.
Organizer Tammi Geraci asks that if clothing is donated, it must be new or in good condition and freshly washed. Items should be packed in boxes, not bags, and be labeled sex and age specific.