Children's Specialized Hospital - December 3
The Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside is a beautiful facility that does great work with critically ill children. Many of the patients are sensitive to noise so when Holiday Express comes rumbling through, we leave a lot of our loud items behind in favor of subdued percussion and acoustic guitars. Usually, it's a quiet affair with many of the kids too far gone to speak or even acknowledge what happens around them. You say hello and sing to them and hope that your words or gestures reach them deep down.
That's how it usually is. But even if there is a lack of verbal validation, you could feel the enthusiastic energy in the room, just about from beat one.
It's amazing what meeting your favorite character will do. The energy of the entire room changed when Elmo came into play with everyone. Kids who were near unresponsive before the event started were now staring at him wide-eyed and reaching out for him. It was the same with The Grinch, Rudolph, and of course the big man himself, Santa Claus. I'll always have the image in my mind from yesterday of the little girl in her wheelchair, who didn't look up the entire show, with the biggest smile on her face when Santa came over to her and held her hand. It's funny how no matter how many years you do it, there's always a new lasting image or memory to be made.
Yesterday was one of those shows where it didn't matter that I couldn't hear my bass guitar or that the band didn't have any female singers so the poor men were screeching the high harmonies in their best falsettos (Nice job, ladies!). It was the little things that mattered. Afterwards, I said goodbye to all the patients as they were getting wheeled out and there were a few who started the day unresponsive, who reached out for my hand to hold it. No words, as per usual, but none were needed.
I'm writing this on the bus down to a new event in Atlantic City. So I'm already onto the next...