A lion, a belly dancer and an evil clown walk into a party.
It’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s a tradition for Howell resident Sean O'Scanlon, who for the last five years has had a themed costume ball at the clubhouse on Eagle Drive, to raise money for local charities.
Saturday, hundreds of supporters donned their best circus and carnival-themed attire and crowded into the clubhouse to see live bands, sideshow acts, choreographed dancers, a belly dancer and magician perform. Admission was $15 for those in costume and $20 for those not dressed to the nines, and proceeds benefitted the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
O'Scanlon served as the literal and costumed ringleader to the event. A top hat planted firmly on his head, he introduced acts, floated around the room greeting guests, carried a tall tower of pizza boxes, and demanded everyone have a good time.
Attendees had no problem obliging his request. It was a party atmosphere with a spirit of cooperation and appreciation. Partygoers admired each other’s costumes, cheered for performers, and brought tray after tray of homemade entrees, snacks, desserts and drinks. Local artists donated works of art for a raffle.
“I do this every year, the Saturday before Martin Luther King Day, since everyone is off on Monday,” he said behind a big smile.
How does he choose the charity? Usually it’s one that’s made a big impact on his life or his friends, he said.
His mentor in his teaching job at Asbury Park is a volunteer for JDRF, and one of her children was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. The fun theme of carnivals and circus acts was also chosen with her family in mind, O'Scanlon said.
In previous years, the party had a Wild West theme and benefitted local residents facing exorbitant medical bills. Proceeds from past events have also gone to recognized charities such as the American Cancer Society.
The festivities were still going strong into Sunday morning, after the last lion tamer thanked O'Scanlon for hosting another year of fun, and the two rollerskating cat-women were back in shoes. The Living Daylights closed the party with original and cover songs as another log was thrown into the clubhouse fireplace.
The fire, the crowd, and the costumed lions -- they were all roaring at O'Scanlon's annual event. No joke.