Local Legend Retires
Even if you’re not into rock and roll, you’ve likely heard of Mike Jagger. In the same way, even if you’re not into birding, you’ve likely heard of Pete Dunne. His superstar credentials in this world include: author of books (Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion and Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, among others); author of articles (The New York Times comes to mind); vice-president of the New Jersey Audubon Society; founder of the World Series of Birding; and Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, a position from which he is now stepping down, though he’ll continue offering his services to CMBO.
“The decision brings with it a mixed bag of emotions,” says Pete, who, at 37 years in, is New Jersey Audubon’s longest-serving staffer. “Hopefully I’ll be able to continue a lot of things that have been gratifying, like writing and introducing people to bird-watching.”
No worries, Exit Zero fans, Pete has no intention of discontinuing his Bird Dropping column, despite the fact that typing has gotten difficult since the stroke he suffered in March. “That was somewhat catalytic,” he told us. “It makes you realize you may not have the time to do all of the things you’ve planned.”
But Pete is transitioning to his new role with a host of fond memories in his back pocket, many of them involving the “splendid” people he’s worked with along the way. “Cape May is such a remarkable and unique place, and there is such a deep talent down here in terms of birding skills,” he said. “It’s also such a sharing place. People who come here marvel and just gush about how generous everyone is with the sharing of information and offering of help. It really is so reaffirming. I could go on about Cape May forever.”
Pete’s colleagues speak just as highly of him. “It’s been a helluva ride!” said Sheila Logo, CMBO Marketing Director. “Pete’s passion for making Cape May known as a world-class birding destination is only exceeded by his talent to do so. This little pinpoint at the bottom of the state has been featured in every major media outlet around the globe. He has made Cape May the model for eco-tourism which has been emulated throughout the world. But he’s always made time to listen, put his feet up, share his thoughts, feelings, ideas, and a good joke.”
Marleen Murgitroyde, Business And Events Coordinator, said: “Pete has made me laugh, cry, and reflect just with a few words from his pen. I’ll always remember sitting around having a beer (after work, of course) listening to his newest stories or one of his Solstice appeals. He’s one of the most respected people in the birding world, whether it’s because of his birding skill, his way with words, or his knowledge of natural history. Pete, thank you for everything you given to all us for over the past 37 years.”
Best wishes in your new position, Pete, and thanks for all you’ve done for Cape May.
David’s Disaster Relief
When we called local artist David Macomber about the 13-day trip he is making to the Philippines this week to assist with the typhoon aftermath, he was clearly uncomfortable about being made center of attention in Exit Zero. But when it comes to volunteering in underprivileged or, in this case, devastated areas, David is right at home.
“For the last 10 years, probably once a year, I go on a mission trip with my church to do humanitarian work,” David said. “I was in the Philippines about seven years ago. My dad and I, along with a whole team of people, built a church and community center, while my wife worked with children, distributing food.”
This time around, the goal will be to deliver food, medicine and water filtration systems to villages in need. The latter are attained through an organization called Waves for Water, which has distributed 100,000 filters, each of which can provide six months’ worth of clean drinking water for 14 people, around the globe. The nonprofit also served our neighbors after Hurricane Sandy.
“I have always felt like, as a world, we’re all one people,” David said. “We have our countries and our borders, but we’re all human. As an artist working for myself, my schedule is kind of flexible. That’s a real blessing; not a lot of people can take a week off. I just feel like it’s the right thing to do.”
If you’d like to contribute, you can drop donations off at Big Wave Burritos on Texas Avenue. Or, purchase a piece of David’s art — 100% of the proceeds this week will go toward relief in the Philippines. Visit sharksugar.com to check it out.
And finally, we want to plug David’s upcoming art show (even though he wouldn’t dream of asking us to do so in an article of this nature) happening at Galvanic on the Washington Street Mall this December 11 and 12, which are hospitality nights.
We love to support the work of talented local artists, especially ones with a heart as big as David’s.
A Rock(ette)ing Good Show
One graduate of Erma’s Jersey Cape Dance and Gymnastics Academy is feeling especially grateful this Thanksgiving season. And why wouldn’t she be? Twenty-three-year-old Megan Miller is seeing her life-long dream — performing with the Rockettes in Radio City Music Hall — come true.
“I’ve had former students perform on Broadway and with Justin Timberlake and at Disney,” said Jersey Cape Owner and Artistic Director and West Cape May resident Stina Smith. “And I’m proud of all of them; everyone wants to dance. But Megan never wanted anything else. She studied with me from the age of four, and even the very first time I met her, she told me: ‘I want to be a Rockette.’”
But it’s a tricky business, being cast as a Rockette. The troop is 156 women strong, all of them between five-foot-six and five-foot-ten in height. “You could be magnificent,” Stina said, “but if there isn’t an opening for someone your height, you won’t be hired.” Between 400 and 500 dancers — proficient in jazz, tap, and ballet — audition every year. From the spring try-out for the Christmas Spectacular — the Rockettes’ most famous show and the one in which Megan is currently performing — only 12 ladies were selected, according to New York Daily News.
“She went through a lot to get to this point,” Stina said. “She did a summer intensive with the company when she was 18 or 19. The second year, she was scholarshipped by them to come back and do another intensive. The following year, they asked her to be an assistant, then hired her as a teacher. Throughout all of this, even while teaching young girls how to be a Rockette, she was auditioning… and coming very close every time.”
Megan kept at it until she was hired as part of a Rockette touring company, performing in Illinois, Texas, and Florida… but not at Radio City. Adding insult to injury, her twin sister, who’d given up dance at a young age in favor of sports, had landed a physical therapy internship with the Rockettes, meeting all of the dancers and getting a first-hand look at back-stage Music Hall life. “Poor Megan was dying,” Stina said.
Then, this June, Megan auditioned one last time, hoping to at least be cast in the upcoming spring show. That night, while staying in a friend’s apartment in New York, she got the call, inviting her to join the Radio City Rockettes for their Christmas Spectacular. She screamed so loud, she told friends, that people in the next apartment over thought she was being murdered.
On November 8, Megan’s former Jersey Cape teachers traveled to the city to see the show and get a backstage tour. “It was magnificent,” Stina said. “And it was that much more magical, seeing her up there.”
The Christmas Spectacular runs until December 30. Visit radiocitychristmas.com for tickets.
Congrats, East Lynne
East Lynne Theater was one of five Equity professional theaters in New Jersey selected to help decorate the Governor’s Mansion, called Drumthwacket, for the holidays. “How’s that for a name?” says East Lynne’s Artistic Director Gayle Stalhulth.
This is a great honor considering the mansion, located just outside of Princeton, receives around 6,000 visitors between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. “Three of our costumes, designed and built by [East Lynne costumer] Marion T. Brady, will be displayed from our fall 2012 production of It Pays to Advertise,” Gayle told us. “Originally on Broadway in 1914, it is about the absolute power of advertising with actual facts and figures about what the likes of Kodak and Kelloggs spent in 1914, at the time World War I began in Europe.”
And what, exactly, does that have to do with Christmas? Look no further than your television set for the answer to that. “What is Christmas without shopping!” Gayle said. “The lure of the advertisement. Our display will be as if one of our mannequins is looking at a shop window advertising clothes of the period.”
Be sure to check out drumthwacket.org for information on holiday open houses. Way to go, East Lynne!
On 11/22, see the first Wilbraham Park tree-lighting from 6-8pm. Food and caroling.
Holiday Preview Weekend
From 11/22-11/24, at the Physick Estate, there is food, tours, wine, a tree-lighting ceremony and trolley rides for the kids. Call 609-884-5404.
Barry’s Christmas Opry
On 11/24, at West Cape May Borough Hall at 7:15pm, listen to live country. Raises funds for the West Cape May Christmas Parade. ($20). Dinner and a show availale ($39). Call 609-884-1005.
Chicken Pot Pie Dinner
On 11/24, West Cape May Volunteer Fire Department hosts this dinner from 4-7pm to raise money for the WCM Christmas Parade. Stick around for the opry (see above). Call 609-884-1005.
On 11/28, feel guilt-free about the year’s biggest meal with this run, Cape May Fitness’ 11th Annual. Begins at 600 Park Boulevard. Registration starts at 8am; race, at 9am. $25, adults; $18, people aged18 and under. All proceeds benefit the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund. Call 609-435-5917.
Community Messiah Sing-a-long
On 11/29, this event will be presented at at Cape Island Baptist Church at 7pm. Free. Call Ruth at 609-886-5862.
Holiday Crafts Fair
On 11/29 and 11/30, shop for handmade gifts from 10am to 4pm at Convention Hall. $2. Call 609-884-5404.
Sixth Annual Jazz Brunch
On 6/1, the Merion Inn will host this event to benefit Animal Outreach of Cape May County. 10:30am-1pm. Purchase tickets ($35) at aocmc.org or at the Adoption Center, 600 Park Blvd, Unit 3. Or call 609-898-1738.
Seventh Annual Hospitality Night
On 12/6, it’s the merriest time of year to experience Lower Township.
On 12/6, turn up at 6:30pm and watch the lights come on at Rotary Park, in the center of downtown Cape May. Call 609-884-9565.
West Cape May Christmas Parade
On 12/7, bring some hot chocolate (or something a little spicier) and a cozy jacket and prepare to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is one of the very best small-town parades in the northeast; there are 12 marching bands. The parade starts at 5pm on Broadway.
Christmas Bazaar And Luncheon
On 12/7, at the Church of the Advent, at 686 Washington Street, enjoy this old-fashioned bazaar, from 9am to 2pm.
Crafts At Christmas Show
On 12/7, if you’re still looking for that perfect tree-topper, head to Convention Hall from 10am-4pm for for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations and, most importantly, a big, fat dose of Christmas spirit. Call 609-884-9565.