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Event roasts mayor to raise funds for VFW
Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum breaks out laughing along with his wife Veronica during his roast Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

It’s not every day that a community gets to see videos of its mayor wearing only a cloth diaper and parading through a party as Baby Huey.

But on Thursday that’s exactly what they got at a roast for Steve DeBrum – the former Manteca councilman turned mayor who had to endure nearly two hours of jabs, stabs and biting comments on everything from his political style to his waistline.

And it was all for a good cause.

The packed room that showed up for the festivities were doing so not only for the chance to see DeBrum squirm in his chair but to raise money for VFW Post 6311 – the longtime “homeless” post of war veterans that now has a home on Moffat Boulevard where a welcoming ceremony will take place Veterans Day.

The order of the day included laughs – cringing laughs and belly laughs and hysterical laughs and general laughs.

Former mayor and current VFW Post 6311 Commander Carlon Perry noted the event Thursday will generate funds to help cover the  operating expenses for the new facility. Perry  got the first cringe worthy dig of the night in when he talked about taking DeBrum to coffee with a group of guys that he warned him would hustle him when it came time to pay the tab.

No matter how many times they went out and flipped for the bill, DeBrum lost.

“I thought that this guy had to be the dumbest guy in the world,” Perry said. “I told him this was going to happen. But then I realized that he was probably a lot smarter than I realized because he was out there buying votes.”

Chuck Crutchfield, who served as the de facto emcee for the night, told the crowd that he was approached by DeBrum who was at the time kicking around the idea of running for the council and decided to take a straw poll of people at the annual Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair.

“The first person I asked responded, ‘Steve who?’ Is he related to the Clintons,” Crutchfield said laughingly. “The second person said that it’s a good thing that he has a strong woman behind him who would end up making all of the decisions anyway.”

But for all of the slideshows and countdowns – which were featured when Crutchfield gave a rundown of the 10 reasons why DeBrum ran for mayor, including “Because he thought it came with a crown” – the scene-stealer of the event was DeBrum’s brother-in-law Dave Dias.

Dias talked about wild partying days and the first time that he took DeBrum dove hunting “California style” – from the back of a pickup truck – and how when the truck went to accelerate to catch up with the dove, he tumbled backwards all the way to the back of the truck and when it quickly slowed to keep pace he was thrown all the way to the front of the truck – likening the entire experience to that of him impersonating a bowling ball that goes through the ball return.

But when Dias showed videos of a shirtless DeBrum dancing through a room as Baby Huey – wearing an adult-sized cloth diaper – in a video montage where he was dressed as a woman and impersonating Bruce Springsteen – he generated the most mouth-covering laughter of the evening.

To say that DeBrum was a good sport about everything would be an understatement, but the benefit aspect of the evening was really what the mayor was focused on when it came to reflecting on the honor of having people come out and rip on him in order to ultimate praise him for everything from his leadership style and unwavering commitment to his volunteerism and selfless actions.

“It’s staggering to see so many people here coming out for this evening to raise money for an organization that plays such a crucial role in our community,” DeBrum said about the roast. “It’s a very special evening for me and I know that I’m going to laugh tonight, but we’ll have to see if I’m still laughing tomorrow morning.”

The money raised for the event through ticket sales and raffles, according to Perry, will fund monthly operating expenses of between $3,000 and $3,500 for the first six months that the new facility is open.