TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

Dad Jay, Amelia and little brother Curtis Brooks demonstrate what talent is all about at the annual show held in Hortonville every spring.

When it rains…

Sometimes, both the metaphorical and literal definitions collide, and such was the case this past week as the skies opened and literally soaked the Upper Delaware River region, while simultaneously the downpour of events cascading across the counties commenced, as alluded to last week.

I’m all for April showers and love listening to the rain pitter-patter on the roof, while the dog (who is coming along nicely, thank you) loves to splash around in puddles and drag wet things in from the woods, creating muddy paw prints indoors that often last long past summer. Not complaining, since I’m thrilled that the pooch can walk. Shrugging off the desire to simply hunker down and enjoy the rain, I made a conscious decision to stay within the confines of Sullivan County last week and make shorter trips to more destinations, several of which have been on my rapidly-filling calendar for months.

Once I made the proximity to home a priority, I remembered that the Monticello High School dance competition was on my radar and hustled over there to check it out, see what the kids have been up to and be entertained all at the same time. Meanwhile, the wind howled outside and the rains began anew. Television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have created resurgence in interest, and it’s refreshing (IMHO) to see the younger generation want to kick up their heels right here in our own backyard. Capitalizing on that, the Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium filled last Friday with friends and family anxious to see “Do You Think You Can Dance?” and the answer was quickly revealed. Yes. Yes, they can. Competing in several categories, including contemporary, jazz and hip hop, the students knocked my socks off with their talent and professional presentation, and while there were awards presented for first, second and third, they are all winners in my book. 

Meanwhile, everyone is a winner at the annual Hortonville talent show, and each goes home with a certificate to prove it. Before the cavalcade of talent commenced last Saturday, emcee Richard Ross pointed out that not only was it his 30th year hosting the evening, but that both Carol Montana and I (as judges) were also in it for the long haul. “Once you’re in, it’s a life-long commitment,” Ross informed the packed house, and thankfully, it’s a pleasure to participate, since “there is no turning back,” according to Ross and show producer Jane Orcutt, who also provides piano accompaniment for several of the entertainers.

Comedy routines, instrumental acts, musical duets and even a tableaux of how a painting is brought to life made for a fantastic evening and helped raise funds for the Youth Economic Group (YEG), all of whose members are students who “discuss and spread awareness of economic and social justice issues” with the community. The kids, who “work under minimal supervision,” design and manufacture goods like tote bags and T-shirts that help subsidize their efforts, creating a win/win for all concerned. Following the finale, I was momentarily dismayed to realize that I had left the Tupperware at home, but Jane hooked me up and sent me off with baked goods, so I guess I’ll be back next year. “You have no choice,” Ross reminded me with a chuckle, as I leashed the dog and headed home. “Might as well enjoy it.” And I always do.

Although the clouds parted on Sunday, marking the beginning of a really beautiful spring day, I had already made a choice to spend time at the second annual Liberty Rotary Club Hummingbird Award and Paul Harris Fellow Recognition Brunch, which was slated to honor (among others) someone I’m proud to call my friend: Al “Funzi” Frangipane, whose lifelong commitment to community service is beyond admirable. A member of the American Red Cross Response Team since 1999, Frangipane has also found time to sit on the board of commissioners of the Kauneonga Lake Fire District and preside as president of Bethel First, and he has been a member of the Bethel Lions for 15 years. Organizing fundraisers benefiting St. Jude while serving as treasurer of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are just some of the duties Frangipane has taken on since taking residency in 1976, and his list of accomplishments is almost as impressive as his humble approach to being recognized for his community service. “If I could freeze one moment in time,” Al shared with the crowd, “it would be while chairing and observing how the first Radio-Thon for the Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans and their families unfolded. It was my proudest moment.” Kudos to all who were recognized at the brunch, for they are all truly an admirable bunch.

To view photos of all of the events listed above, visit


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