At one point during Buscetto's Bash on the Beach on Saturday, Michael Buscetto III invited a mother of three up to the stage and told the audience how she would be undergoing surgery this month.
Buscetto announced that the event would contribute $3,000 toward her expenses through the Cactus Jack Foundation, a Waterford nonprofit. Almost immediately, a member of the audience announced that he would match the contribution.
“That’s what this event’s all about,” Buscetto said.
Saturday marked the sixth time the event has come to the Port N Starboard conference center at Ocean Beach Park. Along with entertainment from youth dance and music groups, the evening raises money for non-profit organizations through a $10 admission, silent auction, and other fundraising activities. Typically about 25 non-profits receive funds each year and the event has raised over $250,000 in the past five years.
“It’s exciting,” said Buscetto. “I love to help people, and obviously everyone here does as well.”
This year’s event also marks the first time that Waterford non-profits—including the Friendship School, Waterford Youth Services, and Waterford High School art department—were beneficiaries of the event. Buscetto, a former New London city councilor and mayoral candidate, moved to Waterford in August.
He previously said the intent of including the new organizations was to show that New London and Waterford have things in common and can work together. The funds toward the Waterford High School art department, for example, will help benefit an annual Hygienic Art show featuring works by students from both Waterford and New London.
In presenting plaques to Terry Brown and Roger Robinson for their work with youth basketball, Buscetto said both men demonstrated a cooperative spirit at a recent basketball game.
“My daughter came out in a Waterford Lancers uniform and the first people to clap for her were these guys,” he said. “That’s class.”
Brown also said he supported extending the reach of the event’s beneficiaries.
“I love all these kids. New London, Waterford, Norwich, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “As long as we can make a difference, that’s all that matters.”
Kathy Suprin, principal of the Friendship School, said the population of 512 students at the elementary school is split about evenly between Waterford and New London students. She said the school was first included as one of the organizations receiving funds from the event at the 2011 Bash, and that money received from this year's event will go toward improving technology in the classrooms.
Kathy and her husband, Waterford selectman Paul Suprin, have been attending the event since it first started.
“We love to support the children,” said Kathy. “In the past it’s always been about the children of New London, but that’s fine because they’re our neighbors.”
“I’ve known Mike a long time,” said Paul. “He does a lot of good for the town.”
Lisa Marien, a music teacher and choral director at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, said the event has also helped to revive a long-dormant chorus at the school. She said there are now 98 singers in the group and that funds from the 2011 event went toward the purchase of an electric piano.
“My goal next year is our chorus numbers 150, and we’ll be standing here at the Bash performing for you,” she said.