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May 13, 2013

Family Fest drops gala for speakeasy

DANVERS — Organizers have decided to retire the Baron Mayer Award Champagne Reception in favor of a Roaring ’20s-themed event at the Danversport Yacht Club to kick off this year’s Danvers Family Festival.

“Swing Into Summer — A Speakeasy” will serve as the official start of the 34th Danvers Family Festival on Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets went on sale earlier this month.

“It was one of those things we wanted to appeal to the new families in town,” event Chairwoman Kathy Ciman said.

Popular shows “Downton Abbey” and “Boardwalk Empire” are set in the 1920s, Ciman said. A Baz Luhrmann adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, which takes place in the 1920s, was just released, although Ciman said the speakeasy event was not timed with the movie’s release.

The 18-piece Beantown Swing Orchestra, featuring vocalists Laura Brunner and “American Idol” finalist John Stevens, will perform. Plans are to have the Arthur Murray Dance Studio give swing lessons during a break in the music at 9 p.m., Ciman said.

The Baron Mayer Award for volunteer community service was named for the longest-serving selectman in the town’s history. Mayer served from 1959 to 1983, and the award dates back to 1983. Mayer, who died in 2009, had moved from Danvers in 1987 so he and his wife could be closer to their children.

It had been many years since Mayer was able to attend the Champagne reception, and Ciman said many younger families may not know of him.

“All good things come and go, and hopefully, we can evolve with the times,” Ciman said.

The town does have other events that honor community service, including the Danvers Community Council’s annual volunteer service awards, so Ciman said it might be better for Family Festival to throw its support behind these events instead.

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