The West Warwick Elks have hosted numerous prestigious events during Lodge 1697’s storied history.
Many people still talk about the Brian Messier Memorial Scholarship Fund Breakfast that was always a sellout and raised large amounts of dollars for scholarships at West Warwick High School.
Likewise, there were those Citizens of the Year and Community Service Award Dinners during which icons like Clare Dodd and the late and legendary Norman Defosse were honored. And no one will ever forget those delicious dinners cooked by volunteer chefs like the late Darcy Proulx, Defosse, Dave “Boots” Bouthillier and Henry Janton, just to name a few.
That may be all part of Lodge 1697’s history, however, Glenn Handley has plans he hopes will create quite a stir as well as turn the 230-seat West Warwick Elks home into an exciting entertainment venue.
And what better way to start than bring in Roger Ceresi’s All-Starz and All-Starz Horns, which has played its way to a reputation as one of New England’s hottest rhythm and blues horns bands.
“Roger’s group is the official band for Waterfire,” said Handley, who is the new co-chairman of Lodge 1697’s all-important house committee. “He has quite the following and I personally am excited about Roger bringing his band here. We’re told that he puts on a high-energy performance with what’s called jump-start rhythm and blues.”
The kickoff show of Handley’s interesting and ambitious entertainment plan is set for Saturday evening, Jan. 19 at the West Warwick Elks Lodge 1697, which is located at 60 Clyde Street in West Warwick.
“We’re going to make the entire night special,” said Handley, who was once a United States mail carrier. “People who’ve been here before won’t recognize our banquet and event facility.”
Handley said plans call for special lighting and effects as well as linen table cloths and centerpieces with lighted candles.
“We’ve got a great house committee that wants to make our entertainment venue the place to go,” said Handley, who is also chairing the Jan. 19 event. Lodge 1697’s House Committee also includes Denise Nagy, Manny DiSanto, Walter Pearson, Joe Martini, Maryanne Tower and Carolyn Dagenais.
Dagenais, Handley noted, “has some interesting and unique plans to really decorate the place. That’s why everyone is excited about this venture.”
The Jan. 19 show, during which Ceresi and company will pay tribute to some of the greatest music legends of the 1950s and ’60s, will begin with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. The night, though, will include Ceresi’s show, dancing and complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“It promises to be a great night for only $15 per person,” Handley said. “Anyone who has never heard Roger’s band is in for a treat. Their sound creates a sudden urge to dance.”
Because Roger Ceresi’s All-Starz and All-Starz Horns are so popular – Handley has already sold 51 tickets – all seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. People who’d like to reserve tickets – or even a table – should call Handley at 486-2194 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Handley also announced that just some of the many hors d’oeuvres people will enjoy include beef Wellington, chicken wings, a pepperoni, cheese and cracker tray, calzones and small, bite-size pieces of pizza.
“I’ll tell you,” Handley went on, “this is going to be unbelievable. We’ve got 300 people coming here for a game dinner on Jan. 13. Then we’ll have a hometown guy [Roger Ceresi of Warwick] on Jan. 19. We’ll follow the All-Starz show with Reminisce on Feb. 9. We have high hopes for our entertainment packages.”
One reason for Handley’s optimism is because of Martini, another Warwick resident who recently transferred his Elks membership from Lodge 14 to 1697 who is also Ceresi’s booking agent.
“Joe has been a huge help in our planning for entertainment,” Handley said of Martini, who also owns and operates Remember When, a disc jockey/music business, “He plays music here Friday nights during our open-to-the-public dinners ... he’s very, very knowledgeable about the entertainment business in general.”
Handley said future plans call for expanded entertainment in not only the spacious banquet room, but also Lodge 1697’s small lounge.
“We’re hoping to have entertainment every Saturday night in the lounge,” Handley said. “We’ve brought in some great people to run our kitchen. The plan calls for either a two- or three-person group, pub food and raffles.”
But the first order of business is preparing Lodge 1697 for its Jan. 19 presentation of Roger Ceresi’s All-Starz and All-Starz Horns.
“Roger and company are fresh from a spectacular performance in the Lighthouse Lounge at Twin River Casino,” Handley said. “What makes Jan. 19 so special is that Roger is really, really excited about playing here. And we’ll make him feel right at home, too!”
Proceeds will benefit Lodge 1697’s Elks Charities.