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Pawleys Island: The Pavilion Reunion: Dancers will return to the floor for Habitat fundraiser

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Pavilion Reunion will return to Pawleys Island next year after a two-year hiatus. The event commemorates the dance halls that drew generations of young people to the island.

The last reunion was held in 2008 as a benefit for the S.C. Environmental Law Project. The next one, in May, will benefit Habitat for Humanity in Georgetown County, but it will also honor Jimmy Chandler, the law project founder who died in August.

“We’re excited,” said Annette Perreault, executive director of Habitat.

The first reunion was held in May 1998 and the annual event had a longer run than the Pawleys Pavilion, which burned in 1970.

Chandler, who grew up on the island and whose band played at the pavilion, envisioned the event as an ongoing fundraiser. But the economic downturn made it hard to get sponsors in 2009.

“We couldn’t find the sponsorships we needed to feel comfortable,” said Amy Armstrong, director of the law project.

The 2008 reunion included free food and upgraded restrooms. “We went the extra mile to build goodwill,” Armstrong said.

Although the three-member law project didn’t have the volunteer base, they did have the skills that led them to create a 5-inch-thick binder that provides step-by-step instructions for putting on the Pawleys Pavilion Reunion.

That’s been a big help to Habitat, Perreault said.

Habitat’s volunteer base and their construction skills seemed a good fit with the requirements of the event, Perreault said.

They’ve also talked with Molly Mercer, who put together the first reunion with the Pawleys Island-Litchfield Business Association.

“Nobody could be happier than I am,” Mercer said.

She feared it would be hard to revive the event as time passed. “For a decade people put that weekend on their calendar,” Mercer said.

Habitat will present its plans to Pawleys Island Town Council in October.

“The town is supportive of the Pavilion Reunion in general,” Mayor Bill Otis said. “The pavilion was part of the history of Pawleys.”

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