By George Miller, 10-23-23
A blowout 1930’s-40’s themed jazz and dinner event was staged by First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach Senior Ministry on Saturday Night, October 21. I was invited to this event by someone I just happen to be married to. Senior Event. Yawn! I still don’t consider myself to be a senior. But, I came to keep peace in the family.
I immediately began to change my outlook on it upon arrival, smelling delicious food cooking and taking in the black and gold art deco room theme. The utilitarian cafeteria/auditorium/gymnasium had transformed into a reasonable facsimile of a big city nightclub. Many of the attendees and band members were dressed in some semblance of period costumes. The stage looked like a 30’s nightclub. Tables had gold-colored plates, utensils and tall vases topped with feathers.
Lest you think a Baptist church could only muster a stodgy event, this one had fine music, period decor, gourmet quality food, Could it be that the Fettucine Alfredo had wine in the cream sauce? Was that actually brandy in the bread pudding? Did they really encourage people to dance? Nah, couldn’t be.
The supper club-grade event led off with about 10 all-time favorite numbers, such as ; Sweet Georgia Brown, Come Rain or Shine, The Girl from Ipanema, Misty and a rousing version of Fever. Music buffs will know that some of these were of more recent vintage than 30’s-40’s, but, heck, no one was objecting. You could tell most of them were really into it- some even knew the words.
Watch the music video: …..
Pastor of Senior Adult Ministry Frank Camarotti is in overall charge of the program and such events, organizing the resources and people to do these. This event’s entertainment and decor organizer was the talented and glamorous Jennifer Hudson (see feature picture), who gathered together professional musicians and acted herself as leader/singer, after assembling the tony period decor. She’s an accomplished musician, teacher and performs for the Alhambra Theater, as well as the church’s Worship Leader.
From Jennifer ….
The players were a mix of new and old friends. The “band” had not ever all played together until rehearsal just a couple hours ahead of the concert. When you hire the pros, you can do that! And they all said how much fun they had with the set list and the venue. They loved watching the audience clap or sing along and tap their toes. We especially loved having a few couples dance along to “Misty” at the end of the evening.
I grew up watching my parents direct our senior adult ministry and I was an “Honorary Prime Timer” when I was five. I absolutely love senior adults for their humor, love and wisdom. My only desire for this special event was that they felt loved on, appreciated and valued. I wanted to give them an evening of nostalgia and good memories; those good times often come surrounded by good music.
Someone said “this was a lot of work!” and I agreed that it was. Planning, ordering of decorations, selection of music, rehearsing the show, hiring musicians, setting up the room, selecting the menu, and then doing the actual event itself was a lot of fun. Our seniors deserved this and so much more. I’m glad I was able to give them a fun evening of nostalgic jazz!
– Jennifer Hudson
The church’s voluntary “kitchen crew” delivered gourmet quality good, with a small group doing all preparation, cooking, plating, serving and cleanup. The coordinator took this on as an “interim assignment” – in… 2019. The thrifty group managed to put together food for over 120 dinners for only $500, an astounding feat in today’s highly inflationary environment. Even better was that it was a church-sponsored free event. They even had “doggy bags” of fettuccine, shrimp, chicken and bread pudding for all comers at the end of the evening.
We saw a lot of smiling faces there that night.
If more people realized what this event was, attendance would likely have been considerably higher.
First Baptist Church F.B. Senior Adult Ministry
Encouraging and enhancing fellowship among the senior adult community through monthly luncheons, road trips, day excursions and more.
Contact Pastor Frank Camarotti- 904-583-5465, [email protected]
If you’re a senior looking for something to do, this seems like a good opportunity.
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive (10 years) and manufacturing management professional.
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.