Dinner to aid Historic Harmar Bridge Company

MARIETTA — Having a meal on Marietta’s west side this Sunday will help keep the lights on at one of Marietta’s most-loved features.

The Historic Harmar Bridge Company will host a spaghetti dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. at Spagna’s, with 50 percent of proceeds to go to the nonprofit that maintains the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge.

“A lot of people still don’t know that the bridge is owned and maintained by a private, nonprofit organization,” said Chuck Swaney, vice president of the bridge company. “We also own a good deal of property on the west side — the train cars, historical post office and the area all around there. It is a lot to maintain.”

The biggest expenses in a typical year include about $2,000 worth of mowing and the bill for the LED lights on the bridge. General maintenance for about a year on the company’s properties ranges from about $4,000 to $5,000, said Swaney.

“All those little things add up,” he said.

There are also often bigger projects, such as $5,000 put into repairing the east entrance to the bridge in recent years. Long-term goals include linking the walkway to the city’s River Trail.

The nonprofit hopes to raise about $1,000 at the dinner, one of three annual fundraisers. They hold another spaghetti dinner earlier in the year and host the Harmar Days festival in the summer.

The bridge company is made up strictly of volunteers, said president Brooks Harper.

“Absolutely no one in the organization gets paid for anything,” he said. “Everything we get goes into the projects there in Harmar.”

Harper said it’s heartwarming to see how many people often attend the spaghetti dinners.

“We get support,” he said. “It’s really pleasing when you tell people ‘We need your help’ and they line up to help us out.”

The restaurant will be open for regular business as well during dinner hours, although everyone is welcome to join the fundraiser, said Swaney.

“If someone happens to walk in for dinner, they’ll have a chance to have spaghetti and help the bridge company,” he said. “It’s a nice plate of spaghetti, garlic bread, what more could you want?”

Harper said the food at the event is always delicious, and the support is appreciated.

“I’ve been involved with this for 30 years and we’ve been self-supporting,” he said. “We just keep beating the bushes to see if we can make a dollar here and a dollar there. We hope people show up.”