By Anna-Marie Menhenott
MARTIN COUNTY -- What began as a form of entertainment for a group of soldiers while deployed in Iraq has turned into the biggest moustache bash of the year.
The Moustachio Bashio, organized by the Moustache March for the Military, will raise funds for Operation 300 and The Joe Lusk Memorial Foundation through a moustache growing competition.
"The idea started when my husband Gary was serving in Baghdad," said Amber Ducote, board member and co-founder of Operation 300. "He and other service members started growing their moustaches as a form of entertainment. They'd see who could grow theirs the longest or fastest. This time last year, we had a small event where a few people grew moustaches. This year, it has grown into a really big event."
More than 30 people signed up to participate in the month-long moustache growing event, which will culminate on March 29 at Pirate's Loft.
"The winner will be named 'moustache man of the year.' With that title comes a trophy, bragging rights and lots of moustache respect," Ms. Ducote said.
Operation 300 is a nonprofit foundation designed to create a week-long experience for children who have lost their fathers as a result of service to our country, founded in memory of local fallen hero, Elite Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn.
The Joe Lusk Memorial Foundation was established to bridge the gap between the financial support the government can provide our wounded veterans and the reality of their needs.
All throughout the month of March, contenders have been growing a 'stache in remembrance of all the fallen soldiers that put their lives on the line for our freedom.
Local celebrity judges, Sheriff William Snyder and Stuart Commissioner Doug Smith will judge the best in several moustache growing categories.
The Great Moustachio Bashio takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. at Pirate's Cove in Stuart.
Tickets are on sale for $50 per individual, $90 per couple, $40 for participants, and $35 for veterans online at www.mustachemarchforthemilitary.org.
For more information, call (772) 284-3007.