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December 04, 2016
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Trick or treat?

Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director Alexis Eggleton’s impassioned speech brought the crowd to their feet at the organization’s 20th anniversary celebration in Middletown, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

Halloween—people either love it or hate it, but the holiday is not the only excuse to dress up. This past week marked the 20th anniversary of the Boys and Girls Clubs serving Northern Orange and Sullivan Counties, and to thank the supporting communities and sponsors, the organization (www.bgcorange.org) hosted “Celebrating 20 years of Building Great Futures,” a fundraiser extraordinaire held in Middletown, NY (www.westhillscountryclub.com).

The formal affair was elegant, and socializing during the cocktail hour was a great opportunity to not only congratulate the staff and volunteers, but also to admire the evening gowns and tuxedos floating across the dance floor. I hesitate to think that my invitation was an afterthought, but suffice it to say that my place card read “Dharma the Wonder Dog and Guest.”

For once, the pooch was not the center of attention, but that did not prevent the servers from bringing her filet mignon on a separate plate and refreshing her water in a crystal bowl every 10 minutes.

A thank you card at every table read, in part, that “The Town of Wallkill Boys and Girls Clubs began as a Saturday morning program in Circleville, NY,” and went on to say that “Today, we serve over 3,000 children and teens in 16 locations in Orange and Sullivan Counties…providing before- and after-school programs, summer day camps and community events.”

A fantastic multi-course meal, entertainment and dancing ensued, but not before a few speeches, highlighted by executive director Alexis Eggleton’s impassioned speech that illuminated her dedication to the kids and how “20 years of impacting lives” began for her.

Eggleton is (IMHO) such an inspiration to the community at large, that words don’t do the woman justice. While quick to point out that “it would be impossible without the support of so many,” in my eye, it is Alexis who has spearheaded such amazing accomplishments during her tenure with the organization.

“In these challenging economic times” the table card continued “more than 42% of our club kids live at or below poverty. Yet, we serve any child regardless of their family’s income or ability to pay. We can do this in large part, thanks to your [the supporters] generosity.”

Inspirational and emotional, the evening was a huge success and my hat (and Dharma’s chapeau) is off to all who contributed to the glittering soiree and continue to do their part all year long.

Anxious to be admired for something far less meaningful, I decided to give the dog the night off and sally forth on my own to an evening of pure silly fun, celebrating things that go bump in the night at the annual Halloween party at the Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, NY. Now in its fourth year, the event (www.dancingcatsaloon.com) has grown exponentially in popularity and has quickly become the stuff that legends are made of.

Each year, attendance swells and the endless parade of fantastical costumes was a treat of epic proportions.

Since I was attending stag, hostess-with-the-mostess Stacy Cohen decided to throw me a bone and put me on the judging panel to help select contest winners in a variety of categories. The Herculean task was tough, since there were scores of amazing get-ups.

Bone munching cave dwellers, Geisha girls and courtiers danced the night away with Elvis, Joplin and the assorted ghouls and goblins that are requisite for the holiday, but it was the “T & A Girls” that stole the show, shaking their booty and causing the crowd to howl with approval as they accepted the grand prize toward the end of the evening.

Music provided by Peter Florance and the New Kings elevated the night, as the roaring bonfire outside warmed the faint of heart who were too spooked to remain inside.

It wasn’t easy to select a costume that did not include a dog, but I managed to amuse a few with my “generic rock star” ensemble, while endlessly fielding questions as to the animal’s whereabouts. With tonight being the official holiday, I plan to hit the streets with the pooch in tow and go door to door, begging for candy, while snapping pics of the kiddies decked out in scary attire. It might be a trick to get folks to look at me while her tail is wagging, but it’s a real treat to see the children delight in the age-old traditions that jack-o’-lanterns illuminate throughout the Upper Delaware Valley. Happy Halloween.