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Santa’s Helpers

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Toy Jam
Sat., 12/10 • 2 p.m.-2 a.m.
Satellite Bar and Lounge
120 Greenfield St.
Admission: one new toy or donation

I was the type of kid who de- fended Santa Claus on the school bus. I brought a Ziploc bag of “reindeer hair” to show-and-tell in the first grade to prove to my classmates that the man in the red suit was real—clearly so as Dasher and Prancer had shed fur in our yard. I later found out the strands were clippings from our neighbor’s shaggy dog.

Regardless, Santa was alive for me for a very long time. Even now my mom and I bake cookies together on Christmas Eve and always make sure to leave some out, along with a glass of milk, for the jolly ol’ man. That old man might be my dad, but the idea of someone who travels around the world in one night, distributing toys he’d taken all year to make, just to see children smile, is heartwarming. The feeling that Santa and all of Christmas brings encapsulates the beauty of the holiday spirit: to believe and be thankful for what we have.

Sadly, not everyone is as uplifted by this spirit; they are the children for whom Toys for Tots seeks to help. The Marine Corps foundation collects new and unwrapped toys annually, giving them to less fortunate children all across the nation. Locally, our Cape Fear chapter will endure a few helping hands this season, as musicians and bartenders who realize that above the eggnog and mistletoe, there are far more important things to consider—-like sharing the warmth of hope with a child who needs it the most.

On Saturday, December 10th, Satellite Bar and Lounge will host the first ever Toy Jam. Presented by Wilmington Unplugged and PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage), their goal is to fill an entire PODS unit with gifts and to present it, along with a huge check, to Toys for Tots. Admission is one new, unwrapped toy or a monetary donation. Several marines will be at Satellite in uniform to help with the collection. Hopefully, they’ll be doing a lot of loading!

The event will offer a slew of holiday cheer and a sleigh-full of fun activities for every age to enjoy. Most notably, there will be more than 20 bands and solo performances (yes, 20!) throughout the day and night.

Though Satellite will open its doors at 2 p.m., a four-hour songwriters’ showcase will begin at 3 p.m. Local favorites like Justin Lacy, James Ethan Clark, Susan Savia, Jesse Stockton, Jim Ashley, Mike Blair, Rick Tobey, Kim Dicso and James Reardon will perform, providing a wide array of genres, including folk rock, Southern blues and light jazz.

At 7 p.m., bands of all genres will take to the outdoor stage. The Fustics—comprising Brad Heller (vocals, guitar), Ronn Pifer (drums), Ted Crenshaw (bass) and Calloway Ritch (electric guitar)—do what their name implies: fuse together a blend of blues, folk, punk and country. The Beachbilly Brothers offer Southern rockabilly originals and upbeat covers like “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry) and “Chicken Fried” (Zac Brown Band). Country songstress Amy Tipton heads the new six-piece Copper Hill. Futuretrip and 930 Girls will also take over the stage.

In addition to the 12 hours of live, local tunes, the projector will light up at dusk and become home to classic cartoons for kids. Plates of BBQ are available in exchange for a donation for Toys for Tots, as well. Plus, a raffle will run during the event to boost monies raised. “We’ll hopefully have over 100 different donations from the local community,” Billy Mellon, head of Wilmington Unplugged, ambitiously says.

Across the street from Satellite, South Front Rental Community will host a Wilmington Rat Rods vintage car show, evoking memories of “Grease” and “The Outsiders.” An open house will also take place at South Front, so that folks can tour the new environmentally friendly apartment complex.

Nationally, PODS supports Toys for Tots every year. “I met Blaine Daniel at a Wilmington Unplugged event a few months back,” Mellon explains. “He’s the [sales and marketing] manager for PODS in this area. We’ve been working hard at making this night very special, one that we’ll all remember, especially the children.” Because, unfortunately, there are still kids in our area who benefit from the campaign. “The reason for Billy and I hosting the Toy Jam was to hold a unique collection event that would significantly support our local chapter,” Daniel says.

Mellon concurs. “Children should all have a great Christmas. Those that are more fortunate don’t have to worry about what it’s like to not get anything. Forget whatever argument may come up with respect to parents’ ability to provide for their children—the children shouldn’t be without, period. Frankly, it’s not their fault they don’t get to have a wonderful holiday season. We can all help a little. It’s one toy. My son won’t miss it.”

Aside from the Toy Jam, the duo organized a captain’s choice golf tournament for December 10th at Echo Farms. For an entry of $300 (all of which benefits Toys for Tots), four-person teams can compete. The price includes range balls, carts, lunch and professional scoring. There will also be a long drive contest, and awards given for closest to the pin, best dressed and even worst team.

Folks can contact Billy Mellon at for registration information about the golf tournament or general info about Toy Jam.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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