Just when it seems like they simply can’t get any better, they somehow do. We are talking, of course, about Misameach’s Annual Midwinter Party, which took place tonight, a gala event eagerly anticipated by hundreds of children and their families.
This year’s party already promised to be different, with an all new location – a cavernous warehouse right in Industrial Park. The huge size of it enabled this year’s event to be bigger and better than ever, with an astonishing array of activities and endless excitement to be had.
Immediately upon entering, families received a gift bag and raffle tickets, and of course a map of all that there was to do and see. A lavish and delicious fleishig buffet that never seemed to run out gave families the opportunity to enjoy supper together, with the talented seven-piece Chezky Levi Band playing lively music in the background, keeping the spirit strong with the stage lighting by eagle sound . Cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones and plenty of nosh kept sticky faces smiling all night long.
Some of the many activities included over a dozen carnival games and crafts manned by dedicated Misameach volunteers, an indoor train ride and several moon bounces , emergency vehicles to explore and facepainting by the talented Leah of Leah’s Airbrushing, who turned every child’s face into a work of art. Children caught a glimpse of the magnificent tigers lounging in their cages, resting up for their big show later in the evening. Jugglers, balloon artists and clowns kept everyone entertained and amused.
With the legendary Shorty serving as MC, the action from the stage kept the audience pumping throughout the evening. Superstar singers Simcha Leiner, Berry Weber, Heshy Goldstein and Uri Davidi gave concerts that had the audience singing and dancing along. Mayor Ray Coles came up on stage and spoke about how meaningful this event was and what incredible work Misameach does, Dr. Shanik spoke as well, with firsthand knowledge of the incredible impact that Misameach has all year round on the lives of sick children and their families. A special dance ensued in honor of Lakewood’s beloved Dr. Shanik. Some of the many, many people involved in making this tremendous event happen were announced and thanked, including the New Jersey Chaplains Association, LCSW and many individuals. And then all of the children (and many adults too!) made their way to the back to watch the Muttville Comix, an exciting dog show that kept the audience spellbound, and laughing plenty as well.
After the dog show, the band struck up a lively tune as Berry Weber strode to the stage, leading the animated audience in leibidig dancing on both sides of the mechitzah. Children’s faces shown as they danced with the indefatigable volunteers.
Finally, the tigers had their moment in the spotlight, with children and adults watching in fascination as the large animals jumped, rolled, danced and performed amazing tricks. The shows were 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. The raffles were drawn, goodbyes were said, and attendees slowly began to trickle out.
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 the building tonight.
And if one would have to pick the defining feature of the night, it wouldn’t be the tigers or the dogs, the popcorn or the gifts. It wouldn’t be the games or the rides 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.