“A Christmas Carol”

Fox 10 weatherman McCloskey brings Scrooge to life

Published in SanTan Sun News Dec. 6, 2014 issue

For years, Cory McCloskey dreamt of playing Ebenezer Scrooge, but he never believed he looked old enough to pull it off.

Despite that, the popular Fox 10 Arizona Morning weatherman decided to audition for the role in “A Christmas Carol” at the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert. He figured he would try out and leave the rest up to theater staff. Apparently, they believed in him. He serves in the role in the “red” cast, while the “green” group features Mark Kleinman as Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol“I think people who know me from television will be shocked at how disgusting I look in this role,” McCloskey says.

“A Christmas Carol” runs Monday through Saturday until Wednesday, Dec. 24, at the Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert. There are 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances, as well as matinees at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Tickets range from $20 to $36 and can be purchased by visiting www. HaleTheatreArizona.com.

“This has been a thrill and a half for me because I really haven’t thrown myself into a complete role in a show in 25 years,” McCloskey says. “I’m enjoying this so much.”

The role of Scrooge is nonstop. He has to have the “pedal to the floor from scene one to the curtain because Scrooge is on the stage every scene whether he is speaking or not,” McCloskey explains.

He enjoys playing the character because Scrooge evolves from being unpleasant to generous.

“The journey is rather grinding for him and for an actor, too,” McCloskey says.

His favorite moment in the play is when Scrooge sees himself as a young man in love. McCloskey describes the scene as heart-wrenching and powerful.

“I love doing it,” he says of the scene. “It still hits me very hard every time.”

McCloskey explains “A Christmas Carol” is a special production because of the many magical moments.

The musical version of Dickens’ classic is full of special effects, stunning costumes, talented singers, dancers and actors.

“It is going to be an exciting show to see,” he says.

McCloskey recounts his journey of acting as that of a typical high school kid growing up in a small Pennsylvania town. After discovering he enjoyed musicals, he performed in his first community theater production of “Camelot” in his 20s.

“I was spotted there by a director of another theater, a dinner theater,” he explains. “She approached me and told me they needed a young man of my type for a few shows for their upcoming season. (She asked) would I be interested in coming on board and she said we would pay.”

That was a selling point for McCloskey. When he moved to Philadelphia, he was referred to a modeling agency, which led to an eight-year career.

“It was a city in the 1980s that had a few large, family-owned department stores that had enough work to keep a few men pretty busy,” he explains.

During that time, he traveled to New York  to audition for commercials and films.

“I had some moderate success,” McCloskey says. “I had a small role on a soap opera ‘Another World’ and sang some jingles.”

He also toured with a company that did children’s productions, all the while earning his Actors Equity Association card. Soon, his inspiration changed.

“We were sitting in the living room one night watching the evening news in Philadelphia and the weatherman came on,” he says. “I remember saying, ‘You know honey, I think I can do that job.’ The way (wife) Mary Jane is, she said, ‘Well call him up and see how he got his job.’”

The initial conversation with Philadelphia WPVI Channel 6 weatherman Dave Roberts turned into career move.

The couple moved to Illinois where McCloskey landed a part-time job, for which he learned how to work the camera. He then moved on to weatherman. He relocated to Arizona and has been a popular weatherman at Fox 10 Arizona for 13 years.

“The acting was just the best preparation, at least for me, for that job,” he says.

Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off

Learn about Arizona history, while enjoying period food

Published in SanTan Sun News Nov. 1, 2014 issue

More than 8,000 people are expected to celebrate Arizona’s history with demonstrations, activities and, most importantly, authentic period food.

The fifth annual Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off is set for Friday, Nov. 7, through Sunday, Nov. 9, at Tumbleweed Ranch at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 E. McQueen, Chandler.

Chuck Wagon4

Photograph provided to the SanTa Sun News

The cook-off was inspired by cook Dave McDowell’s passion for outdoor food creations, says Jean Reynolds, public history coordinator for the Chandler Museum.

“He also wanted to come up with an event that would make a little bit of money to go back to the museum to help with education,” Reynolds says.

The event supports the educational development of Tumbleweed Ranch.

“We do the event to preserve our western history and Arizona history that goes back to the late 19th century with the whole idea of cowboys, ranching and cooking on the trail.”

Since 2000, McDowell has competed in chuck wagon cook-offs in Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming.

“We have about seven to 10 wagons here in the state that are always looking for an event to compete in,” McDowell says. ”There was a big gap in the fall schedule. We thought the Tumbleweed Ranch would be a great place to do it.”

He was the driving force in bringing the annual Chuck Wagon Cook Off to the Chandler area. The first year, it attracted four wagons. But, he adds, “we have made some great progress.”

On Friday, the activities will be held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The morning will focus on tours with school groups and senior citizens.

Later that morning, cooks will demonstrate different ways to cook turkeys outdoors.

“It’s a unique way to do a Thanksgiving dinner,” she says. Friday evening a campfire glow will be held at 6 p.m. with Arizona troubadour Wally Bornmann, a cowboy singer and storyteller, around the fire with s’mores.

The event on Saturday runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The main Saturday attraction features 12 chuck wagons competing for awards based on appearance, taste and texture of period food. The teams will cook and prepare their own unique meal, which includes meat, bread, potatoes, beans and a dessert. Reynolds says each chuck wagon makes about 50 meals.

Chuck Wagon2“We provide them with the main ingredients,” Reynolds says. “They have their own spices.”

Tickets, which are $12 for the meal, go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and typically sell out within the hour.

On Sunday, many of the same activities and demonstrations as the previous days will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, a 10 a.m. breakfast will consist of a three-course meal of potatoes, eggs, biscuits and gravy.

In the afternoon, 18 kids will participate in a junior cook-off, during which they work with wagon teams to create a peach cobbler with a Dutch oven.

Television personality and Times Media Group food columnist Jan D’Atri will provide a cooking demonstration in the afternoon.

For more information, visit www. chandleraz.gov/chuckwagon.

 

“We gave them a lot of attention”

Chandler mom returns from volunteer opportunity in Peru

Published Nov. 1, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

Photographer Rachel Tabron traveled abroad for the first time to Peru, where she spent time volunteering at an orphanage.

She witnessed extreme poverty and poor living conditions, but the Chandler resident would go back in a heartbeat.

“Overall the experience was very positive,” Tabron says. “Easy travels for the most part, met a lot of nice locals and learned a lot. (It was) very different economically wise of course, but still many beautiful areas and things to see.”

Tabron lent a hand to El Arca Orphanage, outside of Cusco, where she stayed with a host family. The two-week visit was set up through International Volunteer HQ.

“Each day they would tell us about the area and cook us Peruvian food,” she explains about the three meals a day. “I think being around them we got to see more than the average tourist.”

The orphanage housed 45 children that ranged from 2 to 17 years old. She spent her time serving lunch to the kids, hanging laundry that was handwashed in buckets and helping with homework.

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

“We gave them a lot of attention,” Tabron explains.

She says they spent about five hours a day at the orphanage. Although there was a language barrier, her friend Viviane Gomes de Souza spoke Spanish and helped translate.

Besides helping with everyday activities, Tabron shot photos for the orphanage’s website, http://www.elarcafam. org, which is used to attract sponsors. She says the kids “had a blast” posing for photos.

Tabron took headshots of all the children, as well as action shots of them playing, and detailed photographs of the orphanage, the building, cooks prepping food and the clothes being washed.

“I documented it pretty well,” she says.

The orphanage was basic with a few rooms for the kids, she explains.

“They had triple bunk beds and divided the rooms up for boys and girls and one little kitchen area and basically a little shack with a shower in it,” she says. “For the most part it was so organized and the kids were well taken care of.”

Tabron says it felt like one big family at the orphanage, founded by Americans Alan and Laura Lenz. Tabron says she and her group raised $2,500 for shopping money for the orphanage.

“We were able to get them a lot of groceries, supplies for the orphanage and a large stove,” she says, which was all on their shopping wish list.

Only one burner on the previous stove worked.

While Tabron was in Peru, she had the opportunity to Skype with her three small children.

“They learned a lot from it and why I went,” she says.

Tabron also spent time showing the Peruvian orphans photos of her children.

She says it was also apparent how lucky she is as an American. Peru’s pollution, noise and economic standing stuck out during her time in the country.

“They were really poor down there,” she says.

For those interested in seeing more photographs, visit Tabron’s website at http://www.arayaphotography.com/peru.

 

“Reconnect with the earth”

Bike ride explores state from Tucson to Chandler

Published in SanTan Sun News Nov. 1 issue

A few slots remain for the inaugural Tucson to Phoenix bike ride which concludes with dinner at Tumbleweed Park.

The ride will be held on Sunday, Nov. 9. Bicyclists will meet at 3:30 a.m. at Tumbleweed Park, 745 E. GermannRd., by the tennis courts where the bikes will be loaded before driving toTucson. The bike ride then begins at Oro Valley Bicycle, at 12985 N. OracleRd., in Tucson. Wheels will be on the road by 6 a.m. and cyclists will return to Chandler before 5 p.m.

The more than 85-mile bike ride will allow cyclists to see the beauty of Arizona, as well as an opportunity to stop at historical markers to learn about the history of the Grand Canyon state.

“We have done it twice from Phoenix to Tucson,” says Chandler resident LaVerne Lindsey, owner of One on One with LaVerne. “A couple of riders wanted to do it in reverse from Tucson to Phoenix.”

Tucson to Phoenix bike ride. Photo courtesy of LaVerne Lindsey

       Tucson to Phoenix bike ride.  Photo courtesy of LaVerne Lindsey

Lindsey says the trip is safe and fun.“There is little to no traffic on the roads that we travel,” she says. “It is a low stress ride.”

It’s about “putting your feet down for a minute and …a reconnection with your surroundings.”

The trip costs $100, and that includes transportation, automobile support, dinner and a group rider photograph. The bike ride is open to 10 participants.

For more information or to sign up for the bike ride, visit www. oneononewithlaverne.com.

“I am on the road with the riders,” Lindsey says. “I make sure the last rider always has company.”

An accompanying automobile will provide water and food. The car will also be available to those who may need a break during the bike ride.

“You can hop into the car and eat,” she says. “It is a very well-supported ride.”

At the conclusion of the bike ride, participants will enjoy a pasta meal with garlic bread and a salad at Tumbleweed Park.

Lindsey began riding 12 years ago at age 40. She says she began because she was out of shape and overweight. What started off as riding for better health turned into a passion.

“There is nothing like riding and having the wind blow through your hair,” she says. “It’s something about the quietness and the freedom. You feel alive.”

After raising her daughters as a single, working mom, she hopped on a bicycle and it opened up a whole new world.

“Once I found the love of cycling, I started my all women’s biker group that ride every Saturday,” she says.

Lindsey says the Saturday morning rides allow women to ride for four hours while enjoying the beauty of Arizona. The group rides at about 12 to 15 miles per hour and takes breaks.

“It’s more about camaraderie and establishing women supporting women,” she says.

Lindsey also provides one-on-one coaching for women at any and every level.

“My office is your front door,” she explains.

Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Published Oct. 18, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

The City of Chandler is offering a safe alternative to trick-or-treating with the 33rd annual Halloween Spooktacular from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Downtown Library Plaza, 125 E. Commonwealth Ave.

More than 1,200 are expected to converge on the plaza, which will also host a costume contest, according to City of Chandler Recreation Coordinator for Special Events Stephanie Feldaverd.

The contest will be split into different age categories—0 to 4-years-old, 5 to 7 years old, 8 to 10 years old and 11 and older. There is also a category for the best overall family costumes.

“Last year we had a group come out as ‘Hook,’” she says of the different characters from the movie “Hook.”

A first- and second-place prize will be given to the best boy and girl costumes for 0 to 4 years old; best superhero, cartoon character, best princess and scariest costumes in age groups 5 to 7 and 8 to 10. The best overall costume will be given for participants 11 years old and older.

The evening will be filled with different events, which are free or available for a nominal charge. For haunted house fans, there will be an attraction organized and designed by Teens Actively Serving Chandler.

Five City departments will provide trunk-or-treat for the youngsters. A souvenir photo opportunity and frame to capture this year’s memories will be offered for $3. Face painting will be $1. Feldaverd says the money raised will go to the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

A pumpkin patch with 250 pumpkins will be part of this year’s Halloween Spooktacular, with families allowed one pumpkin. Kids will have the opportunity to paint their pumpkins and leave them to dry before heading home.

An array of eight carnival games will fill the plaza, as well as an assortment of other interactive games and arts and crafts.

A new game offered this year is the Witch’s Broom Race. Feldaverd says participants will use a broom to push a pumpkin down a designated path around a witch’s broom and back to the starting line. She says only five participants will compete at one time in different age groups.

“The winner will receive candy,” she says.

A cupcake walk and pumpkin bowling are other games the youngsters can participate in this year. Participants will receive a Halloween cupcake when they end up on a certain number when the music stops.

The Chandler Lions Club will have refreshments, drinks and snacks for sale at the event.

For more information, call the Chandler Special Events Hotline at (480) 782-2735 or visit http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=605.

 

‘Developed incredibly as a player’

Teen travels to Boston to hone clarinet skills

Published in SanTan Sun News July 19, 2014

A 16-year-old Chandler student is calling Boston University his summer home as he perfects his clarinet performance at a workshop for teens.

“I have certainly developed incredibly as a player,” says Thomas Desrosiers, who attends Corona de Sol High School.

Desrosiers is participating in Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute Clarinet Workshop and Young Artists Wind Ensemble through Monday, July 28. He was accepted into the program after providing an audition videotape of him playing a few clarinet excerpts and two contrasting solo pieces.

“In March, BUTI offered him a spot and a scholarship. A week later, CWU (Central Washington University) offered him a spot and a scholarship,” his parents, Julieta and Bob Desrosiers, explain in a joint emailed statement. “It was a difficult decision, but we opted to focus solely on BUTI’s two-week clarinet workshop. We thought that was the end of it, but later received another invitation to participate in BUTI-Young Artists Wind Ensemble, a four-week program right after the clarinet workshop.”

The scholarship was a very nice offer, but we still could not afford the second program. After a few calls back and forth, Thomas received a hefty scholarship to attend the Young Artist Wind Ensemble for almost free of charge.”

Since arriving at the camp, Thomas has participated in ensemble rehearsals, individual practices and attended afternoon concerts. He says he has learned a lot of new ideas, techniques and materials.

“It is really incredible because it is such a high level of playing and high level of maturity,” Thomas says. “Back at home, there would be only a few kids practicing 10 hours in a day. Here it is everyone. You get to be with your own kind in a way because they enjoy the same things you do.”

The camp, Thomas says, develops individuals into players, not only during the weeks they are enrolled, but when they return home. He says the Boston University camp provides ample opportunities to make connections with professors and guest artists.

Thomas says he came to the camp hoping it would guide him toward a career path.

“I came to this camp hoping it would be a deciding factor of whether or not I would pursue music in the future or science,” he says. “Even though it has been almost a month of being here, I still have not come to a conclusion.”

Alexander Borodin, an 1800s composer and chemist, is the teen’s inspiration.

“He was not only a great performer, but a noted chemist,” Thomas says. “He found time to do both science and music, which is really what I admire.”

Thomas’ interest in the clarinet began while he was in fifth grade after a musician visited his elementary school and demonstrated various instruments. The sound of the clarinet grabbed his attention, and he has kept it for the past five years because of its versatility.

He says he can play jazz or classical music with the clarinet with a dark tone or bright clear sound.

“It can really do anything depending on the player,” Thomas explains.

He is a member of the Youth Ensemble at Phoenix Youth Symphony. In the fall, he will join the Youth Symphony of Southwest and will continue playing with the Wind Ensemble at Corona del Sol High School and King of Glory Clarinet Choir.

 

“I’m from NASA”

The two students I interviewed for this article sounded very excited about the trip they were going to make to Texas, as they should be. They were one of 18 team proposals chosen out of 400 submissions. I’m excited to hear how their experiment went after they return to Arizona from Texas.

Chandler-area graduates head to NASA

Published in SanTan Sun News June 7, 2014

It was far from your typical call from Texas.

“I’m from NASA,” said the voice on the other line.

But Ruben Adkins, a Chandler High School graduate and current University of Arizona student, heard just that after submitting a proposal for an undergraduate research project on microgravity.

Adkins and five other students from the UofA, many of whom are Chandler Unified School District graduates, traveled to the Johnson Space Center last month to participate in the NASA Student Flight Program.

“I’ve never got a call from NASA (before), so that was pretty neat,” he says.

The program provides college and university students with the opportunity to propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment of their choice.

Adkins says he and Hamilton High School graduate Justin Hacnik formed a team of all juniors at UofA last summer and submitted the proposal to NASA.

The proposal included the inception of their idea, how the team could realistically achieve it, as well as safety information about their project.

Adkins was told that NASA received a lot of applicants this year and they were excited to announce that his team was selected as one of the finalists.

“I called everyone else on the team,” he says.

Eighteen team proposals were chosen out of 400 submissions. In addition to Adkins and Hacnik, Chandler High School graduates Dustin Groff and Kellin Rumsey; Perry High graduate Andrew Jiminez, and Michael McCabe, who attended high school in Texas, also made up the team.

The project is called “Investigations of a Frontal Polymerization for on-board Materials Processing Applications.”

“We developed this research and it is something we are interested in,” Adkins says.

The project will form products in microgravity, meaning the team can investigate the different properties the materials possess with the affect of gravity. It will determine the polymerization process, Adkins says.

In layman’s terms, it’s a good option to produce materials in zero gravity.

“If there is something you need to produce when on a mission, it can actually be done,” Adkins says.

The project will take place in an aluminum box that is heat initiated with two reactants to the test tube.

“It’s a glorified test tube rack,” Hacnik explains.

Under the test tube there is a heat gun that is mounted to a shaft. The experiment will have 30 second reactions.

Adkins says they will test their experiment on the reduced gravity flight in Houston. The team left at the end of May and stayed until June 8.

“Once we are on the plane, (it will be) as simple as turning a crank,” he says.

The flight will have 30, 30 second intervals. Within each of those intervals, microgravity will be experienced.

“Each interval we will be testing each of the polymerization,” Hacnik explains. “We want to make sure we have multiple tests, so we can compare it to our data.”

The team wants to thank the UofA Honors College, the College of Engineering and Dr. Jennifer Barton, interim vice president for research