Patio Palooza 2011
The young man stood on stage before a crowd of hundreds.
It was Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm and halfway through the show. Swiftly the mass of people silenced and turned to the stage in anticipation of what he would say. He quietly introduced himself as Chris Weitzen. He is seventeen years old and has autism. He then tells the crowd that he did not speak until he was seven years old, and here he is ten years later addressing a full house. Chris then raised his voice into the microphone, triumphantly calling “Rock On!” He was met by roaring applause and proud cheers which only intensified when he sat to play on the keyboard for his new fans. This is what Patio Palooza is all about. Partnering with POAC (Parents of Autistic Children) the hope was to raise money for an organization that helps families, teachers, law enforcement, fireman and first responders understand Autistic children and how to communicate with them. Great achievements were made and recognized this year at the 2nd Annual Wharfside Patio Palooza.
Patio Palooza was an event that was started by chance. In the middle of the summer of 2010 the Jamie Brown band was performing at the Wharfside Patio Bar during the day. After their set they did not pack up their equipment. That night, the Mike Dalton Band performed. Throughout the evening the close friends and longtime veterans of The Jersey Shore music scene played a number of songs together. Patio-goers delighted in the fun collaboration. Taking notice of the possible opportunity Mark DuBois, Patio Bar manager, thought that an event where every band at the Patio plays together could be a success. Mike Dalton took the idea and ran with it. With great enthusiasm he enlisted the entire list of Patio Bar performers and the first Palooza was born. It was a hit. The idea to make it for the benefit of a charity came next. A committee was formed consisting of Chefs International Executives (parent company of the Wharfside Patio Bar), Dalton and business partners. Considering that DuBois’ seven year old son Conner has autism, POAC was the perfect choice.
This year Patio Palooza raised $12,000 for the Parents of Autistic Children organization. It was a phenomenal night of fun all with a good cause. Special thanks to Point Pleasant Distributers, Sonnenfeld and Trocchia architects, Gallo Wine Sales of New Jersey, Allied Beverage, William Grant and Sons, Jost Garage, Air Dynamics, Sirius Advertising, Allison Pest Control, Michael Angelo Photographers, Volunteers, Patio Bar Management and Employees, The Sound Guys (Kenny Johnson, Nick Holm And Mike Matteo), and especially the talented musicians who donated their time for such an amazing event; Mike Dalton Band, Jamie Brown Experience, Undisputed, The Pat Roddy Band, Joe Baracatta, Phil Engel, The Jersey Players, Not 4 Nothin, The Amused, Michael Jackson, Brew Crew, Paul Cilinski, COALG and Matt Noffsinger. And of course the generosity of all that attended.
Grade 11 Communications High School and POAC Volunteer