On October 29, 2012 the tristate area was absolutely devastated by hurricane Sandy. This will forever be remembered for the destruction it brought to our beloved Jersey Shore and the many families who are left without homes, with a long road ahead to recovery. It can be hard to find the good in something so bad, but here it was so easy to see. Communities across the state came together in every possible way to help their neighbors in this extremely difficult time. Donald, from The Mill in Spring Lake is one of those citizens doing everything he can. He runs operations at the Mill, a popular venue for weddings and other parties. Donald had a Saturday night on December 1 that was open and he decided to make use of the night in the best way possible. He gathered up volunteers from all over and put together a night to remember for all of those that have lost their homes from the storm. He was able to get approximately 15 volunteers to help set tables, serve food, and clean up at the end of the night. He had several employees that stayed to work double shifts, but working that second shift on their own time to help out as well. In the end, he also had over 240 guests that would be showing up to party and, if just for four hours, forget about the tragic events of the storm. The last piece of the puzzle was of course the entertainment. Donald decided to make a call to Mike, owner of Elite Entertainment, and ask if he had anyone willing and available to donate their time for the party. When Mike made the announcement, I jumped at the opportunity to do what I can to make this party happen.
The night of the party I showed up about an hour and a half early to get setup and get an idea of how the night will go. It was then I learned just how much Donald had in store for the guests of this beautiful holiday party. First, they had over 60 prizes to give away in a Chinese auction which they handed out five tickets per guest to spread out as they wished among the gifts. Included was everything from scarfs, blankets, and pillows to lamps, dishes, and jewelery. All a great start to get people started on replenishing what they lost. On top of all those prizes, there were also many more gifts for children that were being given away as well. But instead of a Chinese auction, this was much more exciting for the children. I was instructed to put on the song “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” and get the crowd amped up for the arrival of the big man in red. Santa himself showed up and all the children in the room had a chance to sit on his lap to tell him what they wanted for Christmas and then also walk away with a gift right then. It was an amazing site to see the smiles on the kids faces as they got to see some real Christmas magic that night.
While all the gifts were great, we still had plenty of entertainment for the guests to enjoy as well. Besides have me DJ the party, there were also five live performances spread throughout dinner time. The live portion of the show was kicked off by a girl named Rachel who was performing in public for just the second time. Listening to her sing and play guitar you would think she had been doing this for years. She performed a song she had written herself about the storm and sounded fantastic, the crowd agreed. Following Rachel was her friend Emily who took over the guitar and sang just as beautifully as her friend, again pleasing the crowd, bringing absolute joy to everyone in the room. The next two performances were from Jennifer and Michael who gave me background music to play for each of them and sang Broadway style songs. Both of which again had just incredible voices along with some nice dancing during breaks to really make them a joy to watch.
For the last performance, Jennifer and Michael teamed up to do a duet of “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree“. This was a very upbeat number and I knew would be a great way to team up with Jen and Mike to open the dance floor in a very different way then your standard party. I had them start inviting people up throughout their performance and then kicked the party right into gear with “Runaround Sue“. No one hesitated to get up and dance the rest of the night away as I took them through the decades from the 50′s up to the 80′s. I also broke up fast paced high energy dance sets with a couple beautiful slow dances for the lovely couples.
In the end this will always be a night that everyone in the room, especially me, will never forget. It felt absolutely amazing to be able to donate my time to such a worthy cause and to be able to make so many people, over 240, so happy for that four hours after all they had been through. While I know this was simply one night to help forget about what has happened, I know the power of fun and laughter when going through such a tough time. And when you combine all the talents and volunteers that we had that night, all gathered for the sole purpose of being happy without the distractions of business and how much this and that costs, you are guaranteed to have a great night that will never be forgotten.