Giving Back

Benefit in Little Falls Assists Veterans In Need

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Actors portraying Tim Finnegan's family and friends will mingle with guests, and guests will have the opportunity to eulogize the dearly departed. Credits: Todd Hollrit
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Actors portraying Tim Finnegan's family and friends will mingle with guests, and guests will have the opportunity to eulogize the dearly departed. Credits: Todd Hollrit
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Actors portraying Tim Finnegan's family and friends will mingle with guests, and guests will have the opportunity to eulogize the dearly departed. Credits: Keith Zurcher
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LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Veterans Transportation Foundation, Inc. ("VTF") will sponsor an interactive performance of "Finnegan's Wake" this Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Russian Hall on Woodhull Avenue in Little Falls.

The story is a work of comic fiction by writer James Joyce and is based on the traditional Irish song of the same name. It centers on the life of Tim Finnegan, an Irishman who loves the ladies as much as his whiskey, with both adding to his apparent demise.

Actors portraying Tim's family, the Earwickers, along with friends, will mingle with guests, and guests will have the opportunity to eulogize the dearly departed. The event will feature performances by Michael Brocato, The Irish Harpers and The Passaic County Pipes & Drums Band. It will also feature 50/50 drawings, and a photo booth where guests can get their pictures taken with 'Tim."

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The VTF, a non-profit organization, was formed as a response to the large demand of disabled veterans in need of medical transportation during off hours, in which public transportation is not available. All profits from the event will go to the VTF, which provides emergency medical transportation to veterans for no charge through its service. VetVan VTF was formed as a response to the large demand of disabled veterans in need to such off hour transportation. Without these services, many veterans may either not be able to get to their appointments, or it may take them several hours each way, according to Nancy Provax, director of public relations for VetVan.

"The organization was established in August 2014, and we were tossing around ideas for a fundraiser and we though this would be worth a try," Provax explained. "We wanted something in the winter and the majority of the time this event takes place between Christmas and St. Patrick's Day. By adding multiple live bands that mix Irish music with classic rock and pop, an Irish-themed buffet, actors that stay in character throughout the day, and decorating the banquet hall with the accouterments of a traditional Irish wake (black cloth over the mirrors, glass of whisky on the casket, etc.), we thought we could offer something to differentiate us from the other productions."

Keith Zurcher, Esq., general counsel position for the foundation, came up with the idea of Finnegan's Wake, Provax explained.

"Keith had seen this popular presentation several years ago in a small venue and felt with a bit more budget along with the help from his entertainment and contractor friends the idea could be taken to a different level. As it turns out, different iterations of this interactive experience have been taking place across the country for years," she noted.

Provax also added that the hope is to raised funds to continue transporting veterans to their medical appointments at no cost to them at either East Orange VA Hospital, Hackensack Clinic
or Paterson Clinic.

"Each veteran is provided with one ride per month going to these locations. Raising awareness of the need for these transportation is another purpose of our event. We have wonderful support from folks who attend every year and we have also noticed new faces each time."

The event will be held at The Russian Hall, 4 Woodhull Ave., Little Falls from 2:30 through 7 p.m. General admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. It includes the show, as well as unlimited access to the photo booth, and a buffet consisting of traditional Irish fare prepared by Tracey Biondi. Guests may also purchase a "bottomless mug" for an additional $15, which includes a commemorative mug.  

Tickets are available in advance at The Russian Hall, online at www.vetvan.us, or at the door the day of the event. Those who cannot attend but wish to make a donation to the cause can do so at the VETVAN website.

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