Sunday, December 12, 2010


Imagine Fritz Scherz thanking ME for attending his party and having a great time today.

I suppose it's true there was a certain amount of work done on my part plus a financial investment made, but I wouldn't have missed this event for the world. Plus I got to share some quality time with both Gabby and Sam, so it was a doubly enjoyable afternoon.

The happening was Fritz's Holiday Party for the Town of Verona on Dec. 12, 2010, a get-together he organized as a town councilman to invite out residents for a couple of hours of games, snacks, storytelling, face painting, a drum workshop, and a visit from Santa himself. He sent me the original press release notice; realizing the importance of the event I responded with a longer, more in-depth interview and preview story. I also quickly volunteered our services to help the cause by becoming our clown alter egos from our St. Peter's Lutheran Church clown ministry team to help entertain the youngsters at the party. Okay, Sam decided she wasn't stooping low enough to don a clown face, but she still came along as our Marilyn Munster to assist Gabby as Gibbers and myself as Bingo as we painted faces and made new clown friends.

(Gibbers and Bingo in our brand-new holiday garb, bought that morning in the ladies department at Walmart. I'd like to note this outfit adds a couple of hundred pounds. )

(Magician Matt Episcopo, left, was one of the many volunteers Fritz enlisted to come out and give the kids and adults alike a good time at the party.)

(But we just couldn't compete with the crowd-stealer in red who came in the back door about halfway through the party to hear the kids' Christmas wish lists.)

One of the coolest activities at the party was hearing our local elected officials reading Christmas stories to the tykes. Check out Oneida County Executive Tony Picente, New York State Senator Joe Griffo, and Oneida County Sheriff-elect Rob Maciol as they share tales of Christmas with the kiddies and kiddies at heart:

(Oneida County Executive Tony Picente, top, New York State Senator Joe Griffo, middle, and Oneida County Sheriff-Elect Rob Maciol read Christmas stories to the youngsters.) 

Fritz wasn't the only one from my list of favorite musicians at the party, as Central New York country music legend Matt Chase also came out to the festivities to share his talents and guitar. Truth to tell, I don't listen to country music as a rule, but I could listen to Matt and his Thunder Canyon Band all day. He and Fritz are also two of the top acts in our Sherrill Summer Concert Series, and I usually try to schedule them as bookends to start and finish the summertime fun.

(Matt croons some Christmas tunes for the audience -- didja know Matt has actually recorded an entire album of Christmas music?)

Fritz's Polka Band drummer Mike Faraino even gave a drum workshop for the kids, showing them some of the techniques of his trade.

(Mike shares his tricks with the sticks)

The party was a real family-friendly event both for the attendees and us folks putting it on behind the scenes. Gibbers was a clown off the old block with her face painting prowess, and the kids warmed to her immediately. Sam was also invaluable to me, as she took most of the pictures appearing here.

(Photographer Sam, 16, standing, and Gibbers, 17, working hard at the party.)

(Gibbers shows her artistic skills as a painter.)

Meanwhile, Fritz's wife Kathy and kids Katherine and Marissa also hustled and bustled throughout the party to make sure everybody was having a great time and deserve kudos of their own!

(Kathy, Katherine and Marissa lead the kids in some craft projects at the party.)

Even though Sam was taking pictures, I still needed to do some interviewing for the newspaper story, now online at At our last staff meeting, my beloved boss Karen told us she wanted us to have a more memorable presence in the community. Well, I bet New York State Senator Joe Griffo won't soon forget this interview ...

("Excuse me, Sen. Griffo ... I'm Bingo the Love Clown from the Oneida Dispatch and I'd like to ask you a few questions ...")

And luckily my church pastor Greg Tennermann came out for the party, so he could see I didn't leave church that morning before the service was over to go to the pool hall ...

("Sorry I had to leave church early this morning, Pastor Greg, but I had to go home and put on my face ...")

I always joke that I search out parties, invite myself to them under the guise of promoting the event with an article, and then write that story so I can call it work.

Regular readers will probably see right through that by now, knowing that I really am enjoying myself at these festivities even as a slave laboriously to craft a story that captures the essence and mood of the fun. The Fritz party was one of the best times I've ever had in the field of journalism -- just don't tell the corporate bean counters or they'll withhold my pay. And I need that check to pay for those fancy new duds.

So while Fritz was thanking me for my assistance, I honestly feel indebted to him -- he is one of the most genuinely community-spirited guys I know and it is my honor to help him out. If there's a more honest, people-friendly, caring, and gregarious person on the Earth I haven't met him!

(He's our hero Fritz, center, with Gibbers, left, and Bingo.)

Fritz just ran a thank you letter to all of his volunteers on the Internet, and here is my own response to his words, basically a thank you for the thank you:

"As one of the volunteers at this event, I would like to offer my personal thanks to Fritz for making this a great time, not only for all of the people who came out for the party but for all of his helpers as well. It was sincerely an honor to be able to assist my good friend in helping brighten the holidays in Verona. Fritz is one of the greatest persons I've ever met, and it is my pleasure to be able to work with him on this. I already look forward to doing it again next year!"

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