Yes, it finally happened. After months of planning, weeks of preparation and days of excited anticipation, the gang at The River Reporter gathered in Callicoon, NY (www.villaroma.com ) and joined nearly 100 civic-minded individuals, donned fantastic costumes and spent a few hours entertaining more than 500 guests who turned out to take in the show benefitting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sullivan County (www.bgcorange.org ) for the sixth annual Sullivan County Celebrity Dinner. In the six short years since this fundraiser was conceived, the event has grown exponentially into one of the premier evenings in the Upper Delaware River region and now that its reputation has been secured as the place to be, the evening sold out in record time.
This year’s theme, “The Bright Lights of Broadway,” encouraged 90 “celebrity servers”—on 20 teams, representing local businesses and organizations—to dazzle their guests with fabulous fun and impressive (IMHO) musical numbers from shows such as “Les Miz,” “Mary Poppins,” “Cabaret,” “Grease” and “A Chorus Line.” As a proud sponsor of the Boys and Girls Clubs, The River Reporter was thrilled to jump on board, deciding to put our unique spin on Broadway’s megahit “Annie,” with a cast comprised of our own Eileen Hennessy, Breann Cochran, Isabel Braverman and Amanda Reed. TRR Director of Advertising Barbara Matos managed to secure ringer Lynne Freda (www.fredarealty.com ) to join in, and since Dharma the Wonder Dog was assigned the role of “Sandy” the rest of the troupe somehow convinced me to don a ridiculous wig and dress and lip-synch my way through “Tomorrow,” as the orphans, Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbuck$ egged me on singing “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
The ladies looked adorable as the waifs, Hennessy had folks rolling in the aisles with her mock-drunken antics, and Amanda Reed (as Daddy Warbuck$) had everyone convinced that she had shaved her head for the show. I looked like a frightening, hopefully hilarious, nightmarish version of the world’s most famous orphan, but there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my personal hero, Executive Director Alexis Eggleton, who spearheads this amazing event yearly, aided and abetted by a slew of club employees and volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that “the sun will come out tomorrow” for the hundreds of kids that the Boys and Girls Clubs programs support. Master of Ceremonies Greg Goldstein (www.misneragency.com ) hilariously hosted once again with his incredible ability to think on his feet, and at the end of the day, more than (drum roll please) a record-breaking $61,000 was raised through the generosity of all who attended, digging deep to tip the entertainers, while enjoying a silent auction, cocktail hour and four-course dinner, all the while being serenaded by the costumed revelers. To view more photos, “like” us at www.Facebook.com/theriverreporter .
Exhausted, I grabbed a few hours of sleep and decided to dress like a man for the next fundraiser on my schedule. The Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) is no stranger to entertaining and did a bang-up job at another sold-out event in Eldred (www.henningslocal.com ), raising dollars for the GBCC “Community Service Scholarship, Cul-De-Sac and Streetscape maintenance and assorted Beautification and Charitable projects.” Chamber President Ed Gavalla opened the evening, welcoming guests as the talented “Rhythm Express” band played throughout the evening’s festivities. A number of awards were presented, including the “Guardian Award” to Sullivan County Historian John Conway and wife Debra, Director of the Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History. “There’s truly something spiritual about the Upper Delaware Valley,” Mr. Conway told the audience, “and I get to spend every day with my partner, my muse, my everything,” gazing lovingly at his wife as the crowd enthusiastically applauded. Additional awards for “Business of the Year” (River Valley Family Medical) “Volunteer of the Year (Charlene Trotter) and The River Reporter “Readers Choice” honors for “The Best Neighborhood” and “The Best Community Event/Pumpkin Fest” were handed out by yours truly, faithful pup at my side. Saluting the youth of America, more than $2,000 in scholarships was awarded to Eldred High School seniors Brian Jasper, Tim Worzel and Peter Vorstadt, all of whom have plans for higher education in their chosen fields. Following comedian Gavin McInness’ riffs on a “citiot’s” view of life in the country, silent auction winners were announced, and dancing ensued, proving, once again, that putting the “fun” in fundraisers is the only way to do it. There are plenty more on the horizon to participate in, so I’ll take a nap and keep you posted.