Pirates, divas take centerstage at Aqua Turf on April 28

The princesses meet guests at last year’s fundraiser for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Oncology Department. The fundraiser returns this year as the Divas and Pirates Extravaganza on April 28 at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.



The name has been tweaked this year, but the fun will be the same for Connecticut children, said the organizer of the seventh annual Divas and Pirates Extravaganza on April 28.

The event, which will be held at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville, is a fundraiser for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Oncology Department and Southington Community Services.

The event’s organizer and driving force, Wolcott’s JoAnne Salerno, said the party has changed its name to Divas and Pirates to reflect the inclusion of boys in the fun. Previously, she said, it had been known as the Princess Meet and Greet.


Salerno said the event, which is put on by Puttin on the Ritz and the Junior Miss Southington Organization, was initiated as her personal thank you to the CCMC. Salerno’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was age 3. Thanks to the treatment provided by the oncology department, her daughter beat back that cancer. Salerno’s daughter is now 37 with a daughter of her own.

As Salerno sees it, what happened to her daughter could happen to anyone. She said she wants other children to have the same chance at survival as her daughter did.

At the party, Salerno said children can dress up like princesses, buccaneers, and superheroes. Once there, children will meet a variety of villains. They will rub elbows with Spiderman, Batman, the Descendants and assorted pirates. They can sing karaoke with some of the familiar princesses. They can make slime. There will be a photo booth. The children can have their faces painted or get a glitter tattoo. There also will be pizza, which has been donated from area restaurants.

Last year, the event raised $1,200 for CCMC’s oncology department and another $1,000 was raised to buy food for the Southington Social Services pantry, said Salerno, a Southington native.

Salerno said the party is one way to teach the children about the importance of giving back to the community, even as they have fun. “You should start them at a young age.”

This will be the last year, however, for the event, said Salerno. She and her family will be moving to Florida and there is no one who has time to take on the challenge of pulling the fundraiser together every year. She said she is appreciative of the women who have helped her organize the Divas and Pirates party each year  Jodi Derwin, Linda Wolfe-Kirk and Karen Saucier. “They have been a big help.”

Salerno also thanked the community for its continued support of the event. The fundraiser is almost always a sell-out.

The Divas and Pirates Extravaganza will be held on Sunday, April 28 from 11 to 3 p.m. at the Aqua Turf, 556 Mulberry St., Plantsville.

Tickets are $15 per person in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door.

For more information and tickets, call JoAnne Salerno at (860) 620-3221, (860) 518-9041, or email putinontheritz@aol.com. Tickets also are available at Pat’s Main Street Ice Cream, 384 Main St., Southington.

For those unable to attend the fundraiser and still want to help the medical center or Southington Social Services, Salerno said monetary donations will be accepted.

Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.