‘Rent Party’ Returns This Friday to Rock the House and Help the Hungry
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 • 10:32am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – You may have noticed the lawn signs proclaiming, “Rent Party this Friday!” and wondered what the story is, or at least where the party is.
Rent Party is the name of both a local organization and its events, which raise money to fight hunger in Maplewood and South Orange. Founded in 2009 by Maplewood resident Chris Dickson, Rent Party began with the simple concept of throwing a great party with live music played by local artists and donating the proceeds to the two area food pantries.
Since then, its mission has grown to include the Backpack Pals program, which sends food for the weekend home with students in need, and the South Orange Elks Rent Party Garden, which grows fresh produce and delivers it to the food pantries.
This Friday, Rent Party returns for its fifth season at the South Orange Elks Lodge at 220 Prospect St., with a show at 8 p.m. featuring three local bands and a cash bar. Admission charge is a minimum of $5, but “the more you give, the better you’ll feel,” notes Dickson.
The Marco Ranieri Band, Miss Ohio, and The 65’s, are all donating their time and talent to the cause. Dickson is impressed with the number of bands who volunteer to play Rent Parties.
“The caliber of the bands is just terrific, and has only gotten better over the years,” Dickson said. “We’re blessed to live in an area where there are so many talented folks.”
The Elks Club and Rent Party provide the PA system, amps and drums for the shows, making it easier for the bands to participate. Many of them sell CDs and merchandise at the shows. The bands at Rent Parties play 90-95% original music.
“If this was going to be a long-term arrangement, we knew we could only hear so many versions of ‘Mustang Sally,’” Dickson said. The bands chosen for each Rent Party complement each other and make for a great, cohesive show.
Dickson points out that Rent Party is a real team effort. The Backpack Pals program is managed by David Wagner, and provides food to about 100 students per week.
The South Orange Elks Rent Party Garden was taken over this year by Kerry Miller. In its second season, the Garden has grown to include 24 raised beds, and Miller coordinates volunteers who tend the garden, harvest the produce and deliver it to Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Joseph’s food pantries.
This year, Rent Party will present 12 shows at the South Orange Elks Lodge on the second Friday of the month.
We have a wonderful relationship with the Elks,” said Dickson. “They are a terrific partner.”
Rent Party is also expanding the slate of shows to include six at the Springfield Elks Lodge, on the 4th Friday of some months, with the first show happening there on September 20. There will also be a few “Road Shows” in other locations with special guests, so stay tuned.
· Rent Party - Friday, September 13, at 8 p.m., South Orange Elks Lodge, 220 Prospect Street.
· Rent Party - Friday, September 20, at 8 p.m., Springfield Elks Lodge, 80 Springfield Avenue.
Learn more at www.RentPartyLive.com.