UMF’s Marie Antoinette survives a cold 19 hours, earns $1,000 plus for charity

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FARMINGTON – Enduring temperatures in the teens though the night on a teeter totter dressed as Marie Antoinette, a University of Maine at Farmington art student earned more than $1,000 and two big boxes full of food for those in need.

Beginning Wednesday afternoon, Tim Berry as the super queen of excess in full 18th century court dress in bright hunter orange and three-foot tall hot pink wig, began the marathon for charity that was to end Thursday afternoon in a 24-hour teeter totter and weight drag event. As temperatures dipped from the low 20s into the teens by midnight, a determined Antoinette teeter tottered on through the night. 

Illuminated by two flood lights in the middle of the green in front of UMF’s Mantor Library during the long, very cold night, the performance/endurance event, as Berry called it, ended at 8 a.m., 19 hours after it began and 5 hours short of his original goal.

Friends who were dismantling the teeter totter this morning said Berry was fine, resting at home, “fatigued more than anything else.” They, along with several others, kept Berry company through the night. Supplied with food, constantly moving and wearing layers and layers of clothing, “You can get a lot under that big dress,” a friend said, he was able to keep from freezing up. 

By 8 a.m. a good crowd of students and faculty showed up to make their donations, give congratulations and urge Berry to come in out of the cold. He had achieved more than he’d set out to do in donation pledges and food collection.

The event was a product of a senior seminar art class assignment that sought to create a spectacle of art while making a difference in the community. The funds raised will go to Operation Keep ME Warm and a food drive to benefit the Care and Share Food Pantry in Fairbanks.

He choose Marie Antoinette on a teeter totter because, “I wanted something over the top,” Berry said earlier. “An attention getter.” The lavish-loving Queen of France who may or may not have said, “Let them eat cake” and lost her head by guillotine at the height of the French Revolution in 1793, did produce a successful fund raising effort like no other. 

The teeter totter weighted by sandbags at one end and Berry on the other, was an impromptu replacement for his original vision of having Marie ala trampoline marathon. That idea was reportedly nixed by UMF’s powers that be who were worried about insurance liabilities, he said.

Berry has been talking with Wal-Mart to see if the trampoline marathon fund raiser can be held there in the spring to raise more for charities. 

For those wanting still interested in donating to Berry’s good cause can email him a pledge at timothy.berry@maine.edu For more information on the heating fuel charity, visit http://www.unitedwaygp.org/ourwork/KeepMEWarm.asp

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