KINGSTON–Ulster County’s own version of the Spike TV show “Lip Sync Battles” debuted Thursday night as a fundraiser for two nonprofit Kingston organizations that serve similar populations.
The good-natured contest “Lip Sync Wars” pitted area business people, community activists, politicians and even cops against each other to raise money for People’s Place and the Center for Creative Education.
The two-hour gig featured a dozen or so contestants, including couples, who pantomimed popular songs by artists like Meat Loaf, Tina Turner and from films like “Grease.”
Christine Hein, the executive director of People’s Place, said the goal was to raise $20,000, with both agencies splitting the pot.
“We’ve been planning this for over a year, and both agencies had the same idea, and we decided to partner up because the way the community is going to grow is through partnership and collaboration,” she said.
“We both wanted to have a fundraiser that reflected our personalities as agencies, and we felt like a lip-sync war was a fun, spirited event, and that’s what both agencies are. We have a lot of heart and spirit.”
People’s Place, a food pantry and thrift store on St. James Street, provided more than 250,000 meals and distributed some 12,000 articles of free clothing last year.
Every year, it helps families in need during the holidays. In 2016, more than 1,000 families were gifted with turkeys and Thanksgiving trimmings.
The Center For Creative Education on Railroad Avenue in Midtown is a youth enrichment program that helps at-risk children by offering after-school classes in dance, music, fitness, theater, spoken word and computer arts technology.
The programs use the arts to teach basic life skills and place a strong emphasis on education and fitness.
Bryant “Drew” Andrews, CCE’s executive director, said “Lip Sync Wars” was a good way to bring awareness to the programs and motivate the community to give.
“We started by helping out the United Way with ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ and this is very similar. To me, that’s where arts are really playing a connective role in our society,” he said.
“There’s no way to deny that connection of social and cultural consciousness and awareness, and that’s what we do together. Hopefully, we’ll be a model for other organizations to work together.”
Contestants like Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum said he did not mind throwing on a black toupee and copying the antics of Vegas hipster cat Bobby Darin.
The sheriff came out light on his toes and swooned to “Clementine,” a song recorded by Darin in 1964.
“It was a great time, and it’s always fun to let loose, and not only let loose, but let loose for a good cause,” he said. “I had a blast.”
Other contestants included Terri Lee and Jay Misasi; Eva Tenuto and Julie Novak; Barbara O’Brien with Stacey Inguz, Lucy Swenson and Lisa Mellin, Hein and Andrews; Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti and his wife, Elisa; Lisa Lynds; and Mayor Steve Noble and his wife, Julie.
The Energy Dance Company also performed at the competition, which was held at The Chateau.
Noble and his wife won the People’s Choice award, while Tenuto and Novak, who performed to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” won the overall competition.