In twenty-seven years of marriage Tom and I have thrown a lot of parties. All types of parties. From intimate parties, and open houses to 250 person events with bands and bartenders. In fact, we recently renovated our home to accommodate larger parties. We personally own party necessities: tables, chairs, chafing dishes, two-150 cup coffee urns. I have a bin that contains a roll of raffle tickets, wrist bands, orange colored plastic by the roll, industrial stapler, clip boards, money boxes, yellow CAUTION tape and a flash light. We come from a family of partiers. My Sister-in-Law Cathy has a “Box-o-Fun” that contains a cow bell, castanets, tambourine, maracas and finger cymbals. We have the party thing down.
We usually do not have any trouble finding people to attend our parties. Some of the parties are annual events that our friends and family look forward to. They have even become tradition. If you attend our annual Christmas Eve Open House you will undoubtedly find yourself in a photo taken from the balcony of all who are still standing at around 11PM. That is about an hour after the karaoke machine has cranked out “She’s a Brick House”. We have a contact list on our computer named “Party Regulars. I can quickly compose an e-vite and one simple touch of the enter key equals instant party.
Some of our other annual parties like TPC were so well attended, we had to stop throwing them for a year or two. In 1993 as we were building our house Pro Golfer Fred Funk was also building his house two lots down. We became fast friends. When the TPC Players Championship rolled around in March of the next year we thought it would be fun to form a fan club of neighbors to follow Freddie. Fred and Sharon, Tom and I sat around our pool one day and came up with the name “Funk’s Punks”. We thought it would be cool to wear brightly colored shirts supporting Fred on the Stadium course. The next year the first tent went up. The third year local TV sports show was broadcast from our back yard. We changed our golf shirts to neon tangelo and had a logo designed. In print we were compared to “Arnie’s Army”. Digitally printed larger than life-sized banners of Fred Funk and his Punk’s were strung from the trees and tents. Attendees pitched in a nominal amount to cover the cost of food, drink and entertainment. We had crashers every year. It became so large, we lost control. After Fred won The Players in 2005 we decided to move our party to a larger venue and use his celebrity to raise money for JT and other causes.
The entertainment has also evolved over the years. It started out as a dance party with outdoor speakers blaring, featuring neighborhood children. Most were around ten or eleven. They would shake, boogie and macarena from the back of the pool deck as the parents prayed they would not slip into the pool. Not so much for getting wet or drowning, more about having their tiny egos bruised. Next we hired a DJ, then a pop/country singer Rick Steele, then a five person stage group “Diggin in Dreamland”..and most recently “Pro Bono”. We cannot leave out our friend Mike Parrotta when speaking of entertainment. Mike could best be described as a wedding-singer. He gets the party going. He has taken the arm dance to new levels. I believe you can find his pod-cast on ITunes AND U-Tube. Just search “Sweet Caroline ba ba ba…..”.
For the past four years we have turned our party FUN into FUND raising. When Fred Funk introduced us to JT Townsend, Tommy and I were moved. JT’s needs were significant due to a near fatal spinal cord injury he suffered on the football field his senior year (2004) at Episcopal High School. We know our friends have hearts as big as OHIO and would certainly help us. So, we reinvented our party. This time we opened it to the public, sold tickets and added an auction. The annual Funk’s Punks for JT party has helped us to provide a new wheel chair and bed for JT and cash donations to Wound Warrior Project. We have raised over $200,000 in just five years. JT and his family are now part of OUR family. All of us and the sponsors who donate food, time and much more, receive just as much as they give in blessings just by being involved.
Tonight we are throwing a party for 250 at the local sports bar for Wounded Warrior Project. Several warriors will be on hand to place wrist bands on the party-goers as they enter the door for a private event. We have an auction company that will provide amazing sports memorabilia. This could raise some serious cash for the cause. These young men and women have given more than anyone can imagine for OUR freedom. Now they need our help.
Pro Bono will provide entertainment. This band of businessmen play for only four or five events a year for local charities. They charge nothing for their gig…thus the name. This eclectic band has developed a huge following. They are amazingly talented and hard working, playing non-stop for up to five hours per evening. Oh and they will probably be joined by our friend Mike Parraotta who will get us on our feet. Talk about having huge hearts!
Most people holding an event of this size would be a bit rattled the morning of. But, here I sit, blogging while I have my coffee. As I said, we have this party thing down.