Oh, my aching feet! If ever I wondered whether I had missed my calling to work in food service, the answer is now crystal clear. A few months ago, I accepted an invitation to represent The River Reporter and take part in the 5th annual Sullivan County Boys and Girls Club Celebrity Dinner (www.bgorange.org ) held this past weekend in Callicoon, NY (www.villaroma.com ).
The event was an opportunity to raise funds for the organization and to provide those donating an evening of great food served by local celebrities, along with a fantastic show that amuses and entertains. This year’s theme, “Music from Your Youth,” allowed more than 40 well known Sullivan County residents to strut their stuff in outlandish costumes. Divided into teams, these celebs waited on tables to compete for “bragging rights” as the ultimate Tip Challenge winners, top honors ($5,732) going to first timers, Team Bethel Woods, for their Woodstock Hippies photo booth and regalia.
Truth be told, I was asked to be on a variety of teams. I’m guessing that it was not me but Dharma (the wonder dog) that was desirable as a member, but ultimately I decided to align myself (and her) with Team Italian Stallions, led by Thunder 102’s Paul Ciliberto and Michelle Semerano along with Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini, Sullivan County Partnership’s Allan Scott (www.scpartnership.com ) and newly appointed Partnership VP Michele Klugman-Resnick as we donned wigs, costumes and makeup to perform as “Legends in Concert.” Cellini and Ciliberto’s “Blues Brothers” routine was a smash, in addition to the Partnership duo’s Ike and Tina Turner and Semerano’s Liza Minnelli. I was elected to impersonate Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and did my best to keep up with the rest of the pack, but of course, Dharma stole what little thunder I might have had.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther again was in demand, but her team of hippies had some stiff competition from the Bethel Woods “stoners,” not to mention the fierce contest and incredible performances from Team KISS, Team ABBA, Team Roscoe (and their bagpipers), The Beatles, the B-52’s, Kenny G, and Simon and Garfunkel. Oh, the list goes on. I thought my crew was joking when informing me that we, the “entertainers” would be serving (and busing) the four-course meal, but they were quite serious, and as a result, three days later my dogs are still barkin.’
My admiration for the efforts of all involved and especially the club’s executive director, Alexis Eggleton, is unparalleled. “We are actively in pursuit of raising money all year long, one dollar at a time,” Eggleton shared. “In a terrible economic climate, we have been forced to reduce our reliance on grant money and have turned to the community, which has gone above and beyond in response, making the Celebrity Dinner the ‘event of the year’ here in Sullivan County.”
The final count (still growing) is over $40,000 dollars, so The Boys and Girls Club will be able to continue to flourish. Tax deductible donations can still be made by visiting the web site or calling 845/342-8833. Dharma raised more than her share of funds auctioning off The River Reporter’s “pawtographs,” and we’re already consulting over next year’s plans assuming that we’ll all be fully recovered by then.
With great entertainment still on my mind, I managed to heave myself out of bed on Sunday, toss the recuperating dog into her carry-on and swing by our local distillery (www.catskilldistillingcompany.com ) to catch lightning-hot, progressive country sensation the Jacob Martin Band (www.jacobmartinband.com ) as they swung through town to kick off the Thunder 102 “Startin’ to Rumble: Up Close and Personal” series, showcasing up- and-coming country stars of the future. The guys were (IMHO) fantastic and had a tremendous rapport with the audience. I’m fascinated by their story, which front man Martin shared. Seeking to form a band, he advertised on the Internet (www.craigslist.com ), finding himself guitarists and a drummer who meshed as a unit and are now touring out of Nashville, performing original songs and covering country hits, while putting their own unique spin on them. Their visit to the original Woodstock Festival site was “inspiring” and their fervent wish is to “perform on the main stage at Bethel Woods in the near future.” My guess is that we’ll see them fulfill that dream soon. That’s entertainment!