MERCED — "Groovin' with CASA," a benefit dinner for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Merced County was a huge success, said CASA representatives.
"It was a great turnout, and we were thrilled," said Nancy Young-Bergman, president of CASA's board of directors. "This was the biggest turnout we've ever had for this fund-raiser."
Young-Bergman said that about 475 people attended the event Friday, many of them wearing costumes related to the fund-raiser's theme -- the psychedelic '60s.
Young-Bergman estimates the event raised more than $35,000 for CASA of Merced County.
The proceeds will go toward training additional CASA advocates. It costs about $2,000 for one advocate's 40-hour training, she said.
CASA of Merced County, launched September 2010, has more than 50 advocates in the program. They represent the interests of foster children as they go through the court system, Young-Bergman said.
Homegrown '60s psychedelic band Crystal Syphon took the stage at the Merced County Fairgrounds -- the band's first appearance performing a full electric set in more than 40 years.
Crystal Syphon was among the most popular bands to emerge from Merced's 1960s music scene. It made several appearances around the state, including three at San Francisco's Fillmore West, sharing the stage with legends including Bo Diddley, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Santana.
Five of the band's original six members performed Friday night, Young-Bergman said. Jim Sanders, Jeff Sanders, Bob Greenlee, Dave Sprinkel and Tom Salles took the stage.
The band performed all 10 songs from its album "Family Evil," in addition to a few extras.
Currently, about 500 to 600 children are in foster care in Merced County, said Young-Bergman. Between 75 and 78 of them are represented by CASA. She hopes to recruit more advocates.
"These kids are wonderful and they deserve to have people care about them," Young-Bergman said.
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, had tables at the event. Representatives from the office of state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R- Ceres, and other local elected officials were in attendance.
"We just have a lot of community support, and that is absolutely critical for our success," Young-Bergman said. "We have a wonderful group of partners and it's all for the foster children."
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.