Happier holiday is a sure bet
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent December 19, 2012 3:50PM
Majestic Star employee Ronald Couch and kids from the Boys & Girls Club wave to Santa Claus during the Holiday Party for Little Stars at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau in Hammond, Ind. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
For the 12th year in a row, Majestic Star Casino employees have made Christmas brighter for members of the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana with the annual Christmas party held Dec. 10 at South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
Nearly 50 children representing Boys &Girls Club affiliates in East Chicago, Lake Station, Merrillville, Cedar Lake, Hammond and Gary spent time inside the holiday exhibit that honors Hammond native Jean Shepherd’s popular movie “A Christmas Story.”
Majestic Star Casino’s community relations director Chareice White said employees representing department teams purchased gifts for the young club members. “This is something Majestic Star employees look forward to doing every year,” she said.
Prior to meeting Santa Claus, the children played “Wheel of Wisdom,” which challenges them to answer questions on everything from pop culture, sports, television and video games to academics.
Afterward, the children gathered inside the “A Christmas Story” exhibit and were surrounded by scenes from the movie, scores of decorated Christmas trees and ugly lamps. There they enjoyed deli sandwiches, chips, cupcakes and juice before being called by groups to get their share of gifts.
Merrillville club members Essence Rivera, 15, and Briana Robinson, 16, were the oldest of all the children guests at the event.
Robinson could not contain her excitement about one of the gifts for her, a $100 Visa gift card. “This is my first time coming to the Christmas party! I was not expecting this. I am trying not to cry,” she said.
Taneshia Moses, 9, of Gary, is a member of the Bailly school Boys & Girls Club affiliate. She was happy to get a big bag of presents including an ensemble called Create a Monster.
“This was fun,” she said.
Hammond native, musician, producer and illustrator Andre Weems spoke to the young guests about his work, a cartoon and comic strip series titled “Bum Bum Jones.”
Weems now lives in New York where over the years he has played the drums and keyboards, earning the respect of R&B musician, producer and songwriter Teddy Riley of the group Guy.
He graduated from Hammond High School in 1991 and went to Indiana State then Purdue universities. He moved to New York permanently in 2002 and through luck was offered the opportunity to finish post-production and sound design for a movie.
His inspiration behind “Bum Bum Jones” was his childhood in Hammond.
“As a child, every holiday season my brothers and I watched the holiday cartoons and drank eggnog. And I also watched ‘A Christmas Story,’ ” he said. “I had big dreams of doing stuff like this so don’t ever give up on your dreams.”