BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Patriots, along with Magic 98.3 FM and WCTC 1450 AM, will host National Anthem Auditions March 11 from noon to 4 p.m. at Bridgewater Commons Mall. 

The event is a fundraiser to benefit Operation Shoebox New Jersey, a volunteer organization dedicated to collecting donated supplies to ship care packages to U.S. troops based overseas.

There is a $10 fee to audition, with 100 percent of the proceeds to benefit Operation Shoebox New Jersey.  The $10 donation is tax deductible and all participants will have the opportunity to sign a letter that will be included in a care package to a soldier. 

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The Patriots will audition up to 100 soloists and small groups during the event with up to ten winners being selected to return as finalists to sing the National Anthem in front of judges at TD Bank Ballpark at a later date.

During this time the judges will have the chance to hear the finalists sing the National Anthem and give final approval to perform at the ballpark during the season.

Interested individuals can register for the auditions by e-mailing Nicole Comple at ncomple@somersetpatriots.com.

The Patriots are looking for participants of all ages with no prior auditioning experience for the team.  Past winners are asked not to audition again as the team already has their information on file to be used again when needed.  Singers will be judged on vocal talent, stage presence and their ability to perform before a large crowd.

During the auditions, each singer will have up to one minute to sing, a cappella, the song of their choice.  Contestants will not be permitted to sing the National Anthem at this time. All contestants will be required to perform a song that is appropriate for a family audience.

The team will also set up a waiting list to provide a chance for singers to fill in if a registered individual cannot make the audition.  All participants must pre-register with the Somerset Patriots.

The event will take place at center court on the lower level of Bridgewater Commons. In addition to the National Anthem auditions, the event will include interactive games and contests for mall patrons to win prizes, special offers for tickets and merchandise, and an opportunity to meet Patriots' staff. Sparkee The Mascot and his pal Slider will be at the mall to entertain young fans. 

Magic 98.3 FM and WCTC 1450 AM are the event’s media partner and New Jersey Broadcasters Association Hall of Famer Bert Baron will serve as emcee.

This is the 14th year the Patriots will be hosting National Anthem auditions and second time the event will take place at Bridgewater Commons.

Representatives from Operation Shoebox New Jersey will be on-site to help promote their organization and encourage additional donations for our troops.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey has shipped more than 128,000 total packages to U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. For more information, visit www.opshoeboxnj.org.

Tickets to the 2017 Somerset Patriots season,  which includes the team’s 20th anniversary and the Atlantic League All-Star Game at TD Bank Ballpark, are on sale now. For more information, stop by TD Bank Ballpark, call 908-252-0700, or visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

The managing editor of the Tapinto Somerville and Tapinto Hillsborough websites, Rod Hirsch, is also the founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey.