Park City Twister Benefit Concert Aids Tornado Victims
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved
Bridgeport, CT – Mike Lauterborn’s July 1st Facebook status posting tallying the damage inflicted by a tornado that recently pummeled the east side of Bridgeport was the seed that grew into an amazing fundraiser event in the “Park City” Friday, July 16th.
Held from 7pm to close at Murphy’s Law bar at 239 Fairfield Avenue, the Park City Twister Benefit Concert was chiefly organized by Lauterborn and Callie Dixon-Weekes, who collaborated to pull together both musical talent and art contributions. One-hundred percent of all money collected from a nominal entrance fee, raffle tickets and sales of t-shirts that were generously contributed by Lisa Santos of BL Printing in nearby Black Rock went to the local chapter of the American Red Cross to directly benefit local Bridgeporters affected by the June 24 tornado.
In all, five bands – acoustic guitarist Dan Racaniello, reggae sensations Irie Feelinz, pop rockers Where’s Jimmy, bluesmen/classic rockers Grease Wheazer featuring singer Tracy James, and Top 40 hitmen the Buzz Monkeys – performed. Local artists contributed 21 items, ranging from paintings to photographs and jewelry. The donations were offered as raffle items that were awarded later in the evening.
Other activities included a game of classic Twister, which made for much fun and visual awkwardness, special Twister drinks, clothing and canned goods collection and hula hooping dance team Frisky-a-Go Go comprised of Amy Irish and Veronica Vixen. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s son Peter, who had gained an unjustly earned infamous reputation after scooping up a street sign that had fallen during the tornado, was also on hand for the fun.
The media was very supportive of the event, with radio station WPKN DJ Bob D’Aprile coordinating a live remote call-in with Lauterborn to the Eric Ford show and a TV News Channel 12 cameraman filming the fun and on-camera interviewing Lauterborn for the ten o’clock news, a clip that looped throughout the evening.
The June 24 tornado caused nearly $4 million in damage to the city, rendered seven buildings uninhabitable, affected 100 streets, punched 25 businesses, battered 55 vehicles and drove dozens of residents into shelters.
One of the affected was Harvard-educated Keith Rodgerson, 35, whose East Side apartment was deemed uninhabitable. Many of his possessions were then “destroyed by rainfall pouring into my building’s gaping roof holes.” He was allowed access to the building to try to salvage his things, a frustrating process in which he quickly became “sick and tired of scrambling to move belongings [out of the way of] new leaks, in darkness and extreme moldy heat.” Rodgerson described his overall condition at the time as “extremely irritated, sore, tired, inconvenienced and financially challenged.” Four days after the tornado passed through, his apartment was also looted – and not once, but twice.
Despite the hardship, Rodgerson managed to assemble a support group, threw a July 1 “Box Packing Party” and moved what little had survived into a nearby Westy’s storage center. He continues to face challenges but has slowly begun rebuilding his life.
The funds raised by the supportive folks that showed at Murphy’s Law should hopefully give him and other people that were affected a little boost back up.