By Mike Pearson, News staff
Ancaster Rotary AM and sponsors brought a magical Christmas celebration to 600 kids at Dr. J. E. Davey School on Dec. 19.
World renowned illusionist Greg Frewin put on a show during the 10th annual holiday party hosted by Rotarians at Michelangelo’s Banquet Centre.
Young fans clapped in amazement as Frewin, a Stoney Creek native, performed a feat of human origami, made fire and birds appear out of thin air and brought a live tiger on stage for his grand finale.
Frewin, one of the world’s most decorated magicians, is an International Grand Champion of Magic. He’s appeared at The Flamingo Hilton and Caesar’s Palace and participated in over 35 TV shows. Frewin has won virtually every magic award and is one of only four recipients of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Gold Medal of Excellence.
The founder of Greg Frewin Theatre in Niagara Falls volunteered his time to brighten the holidays for students of the Ferguson Avenue North School in Hamilton’s inner city.
“The biggest thing I get from this is all the smiles from the kids,” said Frewin, who also posed for photos with students.
Joanne Serkeyn, a constable with Hamilton Police Service, was patrolling the Dr. Davey neighbourhood 10 years ago when she decided to get her Rotary club involved in a holiday fundraiser. For the first nine years, Rotarians collected donations and cooked a pancake breakfast, with students dining in two shifts in the school’s gymnasium.
The event also includes a visit from Santa and a gift for every child.
This year the holiday party moved to Michelangelo’s, which offers enough room for the entire student body and staff. Students also received a full catered lunch with dessert.
“We wanted to do something big this year for the 10th anniversary,” said Serkeyn.
During her time as a patrol officer, Serkeyn witnessed the community’s challenges and immediately wanted to help. Many of the school’s students come from low income families, including new Canadians who also face language and cultural barriers.
“For some of these kids, this is their Christmas,” said Serkeyn.
During the remainder of the school year, Rotarians host a monthly soup lunch at Dr. Davey School.
Dr. Davey principal Gerry Smith said students have been looking forward to the holiday party for months.
“The more things we can do to give them opportunities, the better, said Smith.
Along with Frewin, and Michelangelo’s, other sponsors included Montana’s Restaurants which provided the food, transportation services from First Student Canada and lighting by Mad Productions. Ancaster Rotary AM provided age and gender specific gifts for student.