By MIKE CHAIKEN
And just like the movies, the superheroes have swooped in at the last minute before the final credits roll.
The Sixth Annual Princess Meet and Greet, which benefits the Oncology Department at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Southington Community Services, will be April 28.
For the first time, superheroes will join the fairy tale princesses at the Aqua Turf for the meet and greet, which appeals to ages infant all the way up to age 11.
“We felt the boys had to have something,” said Joanne Salerno—co-organizer of the event with Jodie Derwin— of the decision to bring in the superheroes.
So, in addition to princesses like Cinderella or Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” the event will welcome superheroes like Spiderman, Batman, the Power Rangers, and more. Also for the boys, there will a bounce house, toy sword fights, glitter tattoos with scary creatures like snakes and sharks, face painting, and more.
Salerno said the idea was to make the event more diversified this year. She said there will be more of a carnival atmosphere than there had been in the past.
However, the first time with superheroes will also be the last time.
Salerno and Derwin said this will be the finale for the annual Princess Meet and Greet.
“We want people to know that… A lot of times people will say to us, ‘We’re going to wait till next year when they’re a little older.’” But there will not be a next time, she said.
“Our lives have changed,” said Derwin of the decision to end the event after six years. “This takes a lot of man power to put on. We don’t have the amount of time to dedicate to make it as good as it has been and we don’t want to go backwards.”
Besides being a fun event for the children, the Meet and Greet serves as a fundraiser to help the Oncology Department at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Southington Social Services. Over its life time, the organizers said the Meet and Greet has raised thousands of dollars for those two organizations.
For Salerno, helping the CCMC is personal. Her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3. At the hospital, Salerno watched children all around her die. But donations to the CCMC helped fund the necessary research that kept her daughter alive.
Salerno’s daughter is now 34.
“I always try to give back,” said Salerno.
“It’s a learning aspect for the kids,” said Derwin of the community spirit of the event. “You don’t always have to do something to give back. You can be part of something to give back to the community… It’s about being part of the community and doing something for the greater good.”
Everyone, from the princesses and superheroes to the titleholders of the Junior Miss Southington pageant and their parents, volunteer for the event to help give back, said Salerno.
Finally, as the Princess Meet and Greet moves closer to its last moments, Derwin said she wanted to thank the sponsors and all the people who have helped make the event a success over the years. Each year, more and more children attend.
The 6th Annual Princess Meet and Greet – for boys and girls—will be held Saturday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Aqua Turf, 556 Mulberry St., Plantsville.
Advance tickets are $15 per person. No tickets will be sold at the door.
For more information and to buy tickets, contact JoAnne Salerno at (860)620-3221, Putinontheritz@ aol.com or Jodie (860) 518-9041.
To see a video interview with “Belle,” visit http://southingtonobserver.com/2018/04/05/belle-prepares-for-her-arrival-at-april-28s-princess-meet-and-greet/