Inspired by the popular TV show “The Masked Singer,” on Saturday night seven Emporia locals took the stage at the Granada Theatre to participate in the fundraiser “Emporia Celebrities in Disguise.”

“I have made the joke a few times that if I said that this was an original off the head idea, I would probably get sued,” KVOE news anchor Tagan Trahoon said with a laugh. “I came up with [this idea] because I am a huge fan of ‘The Masked Singer’ TV show. I have always thought that would be such a cool event to be a part of and I think it is so much fun.”

After previously working with Granada Theatre Executive Director Rebeca Hererra to host “Granada’s Got Talent,” Trahoon brought the idea up with her. Together, they got the ball rolling to create this idea.

“I just love that TV show and I thought, you know, that would be a really unique [and] fun event to have in the community — even if you have never seen the show,” he said. “I just thought the idea was like, so much fun. That is just kind of how we came up with it. I really like sitting there and watching TV at the end of the night and I guess it finally paid off.”

Hererra was over the moon, as Trahoon described. She thought it would be something fun to have in the community.

“So when he had asked about doing ‘Celebrities in Disguise’ I was like yeah, that would be amazing,” Hererra said. “I like working with [Trahoon], he was really easy to work with.”

Wanting to give back his hometown, Trahoon thought the idea was a great way to give back to his community. Originally having a benefactor in mind, but due to the ongoing novel coronavirus, the local organization was not comfortable with the fundraiser.

“They just figured it might not be the best time, so they decided not to [participate] and I totally understood that 100%,” he said. “So, we decided why not make this a fundraiser for the Granada because I love the Granada Theatre. I have gotten to actually be on that stage before, I just love the theatre. I think it is a gem in our community.”

Contacting people for participants was easier than what Trahoon and Hererra initially expected.

“I am very fortunate in my line of work, … You know we get to meet some really great people in our community and you become very close with them because you are interviewing them on a regular basis,” he said. “I believe that if somebody is going to trust me to interview them, I have to build a relationship with them. I built these relationships over the last four or five years.”

After compiling a list of people Hererra and Trahoon thought would be entertaining, Trahoon explained that it took very little convincing to get the eight participants on board.

“Mark Schreiber, for example, he was the first person I called,” he said with a laugh. “If you know Mark, he is the life of the party anywhere he is.”

Jeremy Dorsey, Jeanine McKenna, Jenny Losada, Sally Sanchez and Jose L. Feliciano Jr. all performed in the event, along with Hererra and Trahoon. Unfortunately, Sanchez fell ill the night of the performance, but every participant knew the purpose of the event and Trahoon thinks that they recognized the importance of the theatre to the community.

“I wish I could say that it was just ‘I am such a great salesman,’ but I think they just care so much about this community that they were willing to do anything it took to help show their support and their love for the community and I cannot thank them enough for that,” he said.

Trahoon shared that they anticipated to have raised anywhere from $450 to $600, but Hererra later informed that “we believe that our net profit is $972.” Despite doubling the anticipated rough estimate, he was happy to have the event in the middle of a pandemic.

“I literally said at the start of it if we sell 25 tickets and we make like $200 I might have a heart attack,” Trahoon said.

To have people together, masked and socially distant, was a nice feeling to have, Trahoon described. He thinks that the community needs more events like Saturday night in Emporia. He credits Cory Anderson, Chuck Samples, Darian Harris and the judging panel, Scott Briggs, Michele Boyce, Sonya Hodges and Earl Hoffman along with the theatre staff, contestants and audience for making Saturday a wonderful end to a challenging day.

“I had not talked about it too much, Saturday was [a] very emotional day in general for me,” Trahoon said. “Almost two weeks ago, we lost a very, very close dear family friend who was like a second mother to me. Unfortunately on Saturday, the same day as the event, we actually had her funeral. So, I had to go to the funeral and come back, you know, I was an emotional wreck throughout that entire event … [but] everybody was just so supportive and just made [the event] run so great.”

Together, they already have plans on having another “Celebrities in Disguise” event next year to benefit another organization. Currently, they are in the process of selecting a benefactor.

“We are really excited for next year … we thought that Saturday went so great, we cannot wait to see how we improve next year,” Trahoon said.

“I just wanna thank Emporia for being a part of this event and for really getting involved,” Hererra said. “I really appreciate that. It was a lot of fun to be able to put something like this for the community and we hope to continue with this event for years to come.”

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