I spent last night at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge on Bradley Road. And even though I’ve lived in Santa Maria for many years, and been to the Elks many times, I’ve never been a member, nor have I attended on Friday night when attendance is open to the general public. The Elks are responsible for the local Elks Rodeo and Parade which are a tradition in Santa Maria. I was invited to attend by the local Keller William Realty Coastal Valley office, as they were hosting a dinner there for non-KW agents who KW agents enjoyed working with throughout the year. I was nominated by a local REO agent, my nomination was voted on and accepted by the other agents at KW’s Santa Maria office, and I had the honor of attending the celebratory dinner last night.
Every Friday night from 6 – 8:30pm, the Elks has a “Cook your own Dinner” theme. You can select, steak, ribs, chicken or fish (last night it was halibut). They have an enormous barbeque pit in its own building where the heat from the burning oak is so intense that I didn’t even notice when someone opened the door. The food is arranged by type – fish at the end, then chicken, etc. You put a little wooden stick on your meat and write your name on it and throw it on the grill after applying some Santa Maria Susie Q seasoning. You can pick up a baked potato, salad, and salsa, use cash or a ticket to pick up a drink at the bar, buy a raffle ticket or two, and listen to the DJ spin some – ahem – “classic” tunes.
The decor is down home no frills with the kind of tablecloths that probably aren’t really “cloth.” Folks got out and started cutting a rug — young and old alike. The festivities began with that old standard — “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang, and when Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” came on people got off the wall and started getting down. We had a good time, and upon reflection, I think you can get a better picture of what Santa Maria is all about by going to the Elks on a Friday night than going anywhere else in town. And although, I don’t think I could join an organization that actually asks whether I’ve been a member of the Communist Party on it’s application form (Isn’t that McCarthy guy dead?), I could probably enjoy another Friday night at the Elks.