Former Orange County Circuit Court Judge Larry Blanton annually hosts what is known as the Judge Blanton dinners. These formal dinners consist of both the girls and boys basketball teams from Paoli, Orleans, and Springs Valley high schools. Cheerleading teams from each of the schools attend both of the dinners as well. The girls team and boys team dinners all take place at the Paoli Presbyterian Church.
Blanton started these dinners as a way to bring communities together and celebrate something they all have in common, basketball. Because players, coaches and cheerleaders are randomly seated, it is a time to get to know people from different schools.
Every year, Blanton makes it a priority to let the athletes know how thankful they should be for their parents, coaches and anyone else who is supportive of them. He also gives a speech on sportsmanship and how it is essential when participating in sports.
Orange County Youth Council helps throughout the night by setting up tables, refilling drinks and taking and washing plates. Blanton likes to serve the same food every year, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, rolls and a side salad. Additionally, at the end of the night, Blanton serves a cake decorated with a basketball theme.
“My favorite thing about the night is talking with the other teams,” said senior Keaton Chastain.
This year, the the dinner for the girls will take place on October 24, and the dinner for the boys will take place on November 7.
Story by Sara Kesterson and Kinley Block