NORWICH – With Christmas right around the corner, organizers have prepped for the annual Christmas Classic, an event held on Christmas focused on giving and good company.
Kicking off at 7 p.m. on Christmas at Park Place Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Norwich, the goal of the event is to not only bolster the holiday spirit of the community, but also to raise funds for the Relay for Life.
“It all started as an event for people without a place to go on Christmas,” said organizer John Kampe. “Then it blossomed from there into a fundraiser.”
Last year’s event was held at The Blarney Stone Pub in downtown Norwich and according to Kampe, approximately $1,000 was raised to donate.
“Obviously, cancer has touched someone in all of our lives, and what better day to donate to a cause that tries to combat this awful disease,” said Kampe.
“We’d like to donate 20 percent of our sales from the night to the cause,” said Dave Cirello, owner of Park Place. “We are going to be open, and it is our pleasure to give back to the community.”
Kampe said each year the event is held, nearly $1,000 has been raised.
Ryan Revoir will be providing the entertainment for the evening beginning at 8 p.m.
Kampe said Revoir is an outspoken member of the community, who works for The Label Gallery, and is excited to take charge of the evening’s entertainment.
“My good friend Johnny and I teamed up a couple years ago to try to do something that truly means something to the community,” said Revoir. “To have an impact on some lives even if it’s just one. Christmas can be a happy, sad, (or both) time of year for many, and a time that’s often spent reflecting on what’s truly important.”
“We wanted to do more this year, but next year the community can definitely expect more, and we’ll be able to give more to Relay,” said Kampe. He added such additions may include program level sponsorships for businesses.
“$1,000 is great, but imagine being able to raise $5,000 or even $10,000,” said Kampe.
“One of our goals is to make the event grow in participation and have it be a staple the community looks forward to like the Pumpkin Festival, Gus Macker, or the Parade of Lights,” said Revoir.
“Even dedicating your time is honorable,” said Cirello with regard to Kampe organizing the event.
“Anyone with a giving spirit is welcome to come,” said Kampe. “While Christmas seems to be an unorthodox night to hold such an event, some just want to get out of the house for a drink or two after hosting family for a long Christmas day. Some may have had too much time with their families and would just like to get out for a while to unwind.”
Kampe and Cirello said children and families are more than welcome to attend.
“The fight against cancer is one that affects all,” said Revoir. “Most have lost somebody or have been affected in some way by the terrible disease. If we can even just for four or five hours bring people in the community together, provide fun, dance, and sip a few cocktails for that common cause, then we can all feel proud of ourselves that we are trying to make life a little better or easier, especially for those who could really use it.”
In addition to drinks, there will be popcorn, relish trays, cheese, crackers and pepperoni, and other hors d’oeuvres.
“Those without families who would like a family on Christmas can feel free to join us,” said Kampe. “We can be your family Christmas night.”
“The party is designed to be an event that most could attend when they are finished with their personal affairs for the holiday and let loose and share some time and create new memories with many they know and some they don’t,” said Revoir.
Kampe added that at previous years’ events there was a mix of folks from various facets of life. Some attended the Christmas Classic with their families after their gatherings at home were over, others came alone to relax after a busy day, and others came alone after a day lacking Christmas celebrations.
“It is really more of a community support event than anything,” said Kampe.
The event will continue until Midnight.
Cirello said Park Place will also be open the night prior to the event, Christmas Eve.
“It amazes me how people come out on Christmas day to support the community and help out a great cause,” said Chick Cirello.
In addition to the 20 percent of sales that the Cirellos are donating, all tips and gratuities and donations will go to the Relay for Life.
Kampe additionally extended gratitude to Mike and Sarah Woods, owners of The Blarney Stone Pub for the use of their venue for last year’s Christmas Classic.
“Knowing what the Christmas spirit truly is is what we really want people to see,” said Revoir. “It’s more than a good deed or kind gesture or a thoughtful gift. It’s a heartwarming feeling that anyone can acquire. It’s one of overwhelming joy and pure bliss that can easily be contagious. Once you have felt it, it becomes something one craves and that is what the Christmas Classic is really about: passing from one person to another the warm feelings of love, peace and happiness.”
Revoir added that Kampe has been his friend for a very long time. “He is not only someone I respect but he is the true definition of a friend and someone I’m proud to know and work on and grow an annual event like this with,” he said.
“We not only want to bolster the holiday spirit, we want to help support an organization that aims to beat a horrible disease, cancer,” said Kampe. “The Christmas Classic is an event where those interested can rally together for a great cause during the season of giving.”
Kampe continued with advice to those who may be having a difficult time not only during the holiday season, but all year round.
“Life is full of choices,” said Kampe. “Some are incredibly difficult to make others should just come as instinct. Don't make it tough on yourself, just choose to live.”
Kampe said any donation amount counts and is absolutely appreciated.
For further information visit the event’s Facebook page at facebook.com/events/737741946321895/.