Neighbors In Need
It may sound strange to label Jim and Evelyn McCarty lucky, considering their Villas home exploded on November 7 from a gas leak while they were inside. She’s got two broken legs. He’s recovering from third-degree burns that span 15 percent of his body… and he wasn’t even supposed to be home at the time of the blast.
But it could have been much worse. If it weren’t for brave neighbors, including Lower Township Mayor Michael Beck and off-duty Lower Township Police Officer Corey Scheid, who went charging toward the house (or the smithereens that were left of it), it’s likely the couple would still have been inside when flames engulfed the property. Now, the community is once again rallying around the couple, both 67-year-old natives of Roxborough, Pennsylvania and parents of four adult children.
We spoke with Robyn Harkin, bartender at the Villas VFW, a spot the McCartys supported. Along with VFW commander Bill Howard, she is organizing a benefit to help offset some of the couple’s imminent financial burdens. “They’re great people,” Robyn told us. “Always ready and willing to help you out.” The event will take place on Saturday, December 14 at 7pm at the Villas VFW. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Call 609-886-3488 for more information. If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation, make checks payable to Jim and Evelyn McCarty and mail to Jim and Evelyn McCarty C/O Villas VFW, 6 E Delaware Parkway, Villas NJ, 08251. And feel free to spread the word on Facebook.
A Jazzy Good Time
Michael Kline, organizer of the Cape May international Jazz Festival that took place last weekend, told us he feels “brain-dead.” And rightfully so… the man put on one hell of a show. But he wasn’t so brain-dead when we spoke with him on Monday that he couldn’t recall the festival’s highlights…
Some of these, we learned, had nothing to do with the music at all. “Our volunteer meeting overflowed the back room of the Mad Batter,” Michael said. “It’s truly humbling how many people want to see this festival succeed, and pour their sweat into it. I can’t thank the volunteers enough. Remarkable.”
But if you missed out (gasp!), it’s the music you want to hear about, and it was, as promised, world-class. While the final box office numbers aren’t in yet, Michael does know that all mainstage shows were sold out, which never happened last year. And the crowds at all seven venues were enamored with what they saw. The best line of the weekend, according to Michael, came from Patrick Logue, Vice-President of Operations for Cape Resorts. “I’d marry her tonight,” he said of Charenee Wade, after hearing her sing. “And the first note from Gary Bartz and Bruce Barth on the Motema Music Stage was pure magic that resonated the entire set,” Michael said. “Aaron Diehl’s Quartet performance was brilliant; in fact the First Presbyterian Church was home the entire festival to magical performances. You have to keep in mind, I’m so busy, I don’t get to take in all the sets. But my personal highlight was Henry Butler closing out the Festival on the Exit Zero magazine stage. It was a tour de force of improvisational piano. He took me back to New Orleans with his sound that embodies all of the blues and soul that is New Orleans.”
Equally cool, the performers were just as thrilled with us as we were with them. Diane Reeves, who Michael calls the leading jazz vocalist in the world, “mentioned she felt so at home. She loved the jazz fest dinners prepared by local chefs and cooked up by Chris Jakopec that were served at the Chalfonte Hotel. We couldn’t keep the clam sliders stocked.” And the artists who performed at the Just 4 Wheels Stage at Harry’s – Etienne Charles and Matuto – commented on how “large and enthusiastic the audiences were.” Then there was headliner Eddie Palmieri who “allowed for picture after picture with volunteers” and even dedicated a song to Patricia Jackson of Patricia Jackson Jewelers, aka “Goddess of the Green Room.” Further proof the artists had themselves a good time? Michael witnessed some of them jumping on stage with their peers, in wonderful, spontaneous bursts of inspiration.
As a parting shot, Michael told us how moved he was by Wayne Piersanti, former owner of The Shire. “That man ran one of the best jazz clubs in the world for 15 years in this town. I was touched by the heartfelt warmth and gratitude he expressed when I asked him if he would host the Sounds of the Shire in Carney’s Other Room. Wayne is the guy who deserves all the credit in the world for jazz having such a presence in Cape May. His appreciation for the music and his respect for musicians is under appreciated.”
Overall, it was a great success. “Because of our sponsorship and volunteers, we were able to do more and do it at a higher level than last year,” Michael said. “I thought the music quality was even higher than last year. It was just a really fun festival.”
Great Job, Guys
A little while ago, we told you about a joint fundraiser being held by the career firefighters of Cape May, Ocean City, Wildwood, and North Wildwood. During the month of October, breast cancer awareness month, representatives from each station sported pink T-shirts, which they sold at local festivals and events. Last Saturday, they presented a check for funds raised — $33,600, to be exact — to the Survivors of Cancer organization, which strives to improve quality of life for those affected by the disease. An additional $2,500 was raised during a beef and beer this same night, held at the Cape May VFW. “We’re absolutely ecstatic about it,” said Lieutenant Michael Eck. “We couldn’t be prouder to have been part of such a great event.” As for how the Survivors of Cancer reps feel? “People were absolutely overwhelmed,” Michael said. “They didn’t realize how large a donation we’d be making, so they were caught completely off-guard.” Congratulations to all involved, and keep on sporting those pink Ts.
Dolphins In Need
We called the Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center for more information on the very cool-sounding educational program their hosting Thursday November 14 at the Nature Center of Cape May, where you can learn more about the dolphins and whales that frequent our waters. What we got instead was some very unsettling information about the state of the organization itself.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, founded in 1978, has responded to over 4,300 strandings — whales, dolphins, seals and turtles — in the past 35 years. Some of these strandings have been the result of natural predation, and some have been, unfortunately, the result of man. The bottom line: we need organizations like this to counteract the harm we continue doing to this planet, until we can get our act together. But over the past year, MMSC has faced great difficulty. During Hurricane Sandy, the center experienced flooding, the damage from which has taken months to repair.
“We have also experienced decreased levels of funding due to economic hardships that our individual donors and contributing foundations are experiencing,” said Sheila Dean, MMSC Co-Director. “This includes the loss of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries funding of approximately $100,000 a year that we received through the John H. Prescott grant program. This lost funding along with the 50% decrease in funding from many of our major donors will greatly affect our ability to respond to, and rehabilitate, future stranded marine mammals and sea turtles, and to provide education and outreach regarding these animals.”
Which makes us all the more keen to spread the word about the program happening this Thursday. We’d like to see a big turnout, to let the good folks at MMSC know how important we think their work is in our neck of the woods, especially in light of recent dolphin-related events.
This year, over 100 dolphins have washed ashore on Jersey’s beaches. Since January, MMSC has delivered 63 dead dolphins to the University of Pennsylvania for autopsies so that we can get to the bottom of what’s considered an “unusual mortality event” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Fortunately, Sheila told us, the deaths are the suspected result of the Morbillvirus, a naturally-occurring disease cycle “not related to water quality or pollution.”
But still… we’d rather it didn’t have to be this way.
“It started with television shows like Flipper back in the 50s and 60s,” Sheila said. “People are fascinated with dolphins because of their intelligence. Whale and dolphin watching is a booming industry in New Jersey.”
Learn more about the work of MMSC, why we’re so enamored with the animals they help, and what you can do to contribute, this Thursday, November 14 at 6pm in the Charlotte Van Leer Todd Building of the Nature Center of Cape May.
For more information, call 609-898-8848.
On 11/14, Kiwanis Club of Cape May hosts this event (and provides snacks!) at 1041 Beach Avenue. 6:30-9pm. Call Sheila Williams at 609-884-7633.
Fourth Winter Wonderland Christmas Parade Fundraiser
On 11/14, bring your family and friends to celebrate and kick off the most wonderful time of year in the beautiful Ballroom at Congress Hall. There will be live entertainment, hot chocolate, and shopping the silent auction for early holiday gifts. The donation request is $20 per person. Children 12 and under free. For tickets and information, call 609-884-8421.
10th Annual Yuletide Bazaar
On 11/16, the First Presbyterian Church will hold this Dickens-inspired event from 9am to 3pm. Shop needlework, books, attic treasures, children’s toys and games, baked goods, jewelry, Christmas decorations, hand-made gifts, theme baskets and a silent auction. Call 884-6652.
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, Barry Tischler, who also hosts Open Mic Night at the Pilot House on Decatur Street every Friday night, see the mighty fine Country singers who will donate their talents to bring a Country flavor to the Christmas holidays and help raise 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.
26th Annual Community Messiah Sing-a-long
On 11/29, this event will be presented at at Cape Island Baptist Church at 7pm. Free. Refreshments. Call Ruth at 609-886-5862.
Holiday Crafts Fair
On 11/29 and 11/30, shop for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations from 10am to 4pm at Convention Hall. Admission is $2. Call 609-884-5404.
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 teh lights come on at Rotary Park, in the center of downtown Cape May. And look out for Santa. If you’ve been naughty this year, here’s your chance to plead your case. Call 609-884-9565.
West Cape May Christmas Parade
On 12/7, bring some hot chocolate 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.