Attendees at Misameach’s Annual Midwinter Event knew before they entered the doors of Lake Terrace that they would be in for a truly spectacular event, Misameach style. But nothing prepared them for the jaw-dropping sight that greeted them as they entered the hall, nor for the hours of entertainment they would experience that evening.
Misameach’s annual midwinter event is designed to bring families with sick children together for a magical evening of excitement and song, in keeping with the organization’s mission to bring joy to the lives of children who need it most. This year’s event, held on Monday, February 2nd, was attended by close to a thousand members of the Misameach family.
The entire Lake Terrace was transformed into an indoor forest. In the lobby, a giant, realistic looking wooden structure bore a sign reading “Misameach National Park” served as the “visitor’s center”, where guests received their gift bags, chock full of toys and entertainment for children of all ages and tickets to enter into an exciting raffle.
Walking into the main room, one truly felt transported to a lush forest. Actual trees surrounded a floor of leaves and dirt, and the smell of fresh pine lent authenticity to the scene. The green lighting reflected the trees and cast their glow on a towering skyway, painstakingly built by dedicated volunteers over many, many hours. Children climbed up the steps to the enclosure on top for a birds’ eye view of the entire breathtaking scene.
In the center of the mammoth room, were every forest’s regular inhabitants, the bears. Large cages housed the animals to be used in a grand show later in the evening. Meanwhile, children enjoyed watching the bears roam around their enclosures from a far closer vantage point than they can get at any zoo.
The breathtaking scenery alone took hours to create, and that was only the beginning.
A lavish spread by Greenwald Caterers allowed parents to feed their entire families supper from a buffet that seemed to never run out. Cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones, along with candy and cookies made for sticky and satisfying dessert options.
A plethora of activities kept attendees busy, including carnival booths, crafts, face painting and a number of exciting inflatable rides.
Before the entertainment portion of the evening began, Misameach presented an award to Investors Bank in recognition of their generous contributions to Misameach. Beloved pediatrician, Dr. Reuven Shanik was recognized for his incredible devotion to all of Lakewood’s children, and indeed to the entire Lakewood community.
Dr. Shanik participated in a lively on-stage rekidah with volunteers and then said a few words of praise for the incredible, life-saving work that Misameach does.
Later in the evening, Dr. Shanik also accepted an award on behalf of Dr. Ian Jacobs, Medical Director of the Center for Pediatric Airway Disorders at the prestigious CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). Dr. Jacobs was scheduled to attend, but unfortunately couldn’t make it at the last minute. The famed specialist was awarded a plaque in gratitude for his dedication for and care of many of the Misameach children.
Once all of the awards were presented, the music struck up a lively tune and some of the popular names in Jewish music took to the stage to each spread their own unique brand of joy to the wildly responsive audience.The impressive lineup of singers included, in order of appearance, Uri Davidi, Yoni Z and Benny Friedman.
From soulful to lively, the audience sang and danced along as they were swept up in the exhilaration of the moment.
The New Jersey State Transit Police, brought in to the event with the help of the New Jersey Chaplains Association, gave a K9 dog show, followed by questions from the audience (and specifically from the preteen boys in the audience!)
The Twins from France delighted the audience with their trademark antics, putting on a show every child will remember for a very long time.
Finally, the bears had their moment in the spotlight, with children and adults watching in fascination as the large animals jumped, rolled, danced and performed intricate tricks. The show was the highlight of the event for many, who were truly amazed at Misameach’s ability to come up with such unique and innovative shows every single year.
Though the event was officially supposed to end at 8, guests lingered far longer, unable to leave the magical atmosphere and the spirit of warmth and camaraderie that pervaded Lake Terrace that night.
And if one would have to pick the defining feature of the night, it wouldn’t be the bears or the booths, the tower or the Twins. It wouldn’t be the games or the trees or the singers or the delectable food. It would be the glowing smiles evident on the face of every single parent, child, volunteer and caretaker present, serving as a testament to an evening that will long be remembered, created by an organization that has touched so many lives so very profoundly.