Ahoy, Matey!
Pirates Take Over Mattapoisett School

By Robert Chiarito
January 31, 2008
The Wanderer Newspaper

The Toe Jam Puppet Band made a return to the tri-town area on Saturday, January 26 as they brought their Toe Jam Pirate Show to the Center School Gymnasium. The concert was a benefit for Project GROW with proceeds aiding the organization's scholarship fund.

Band members Mr. Tom and Vinny treated the packed house to a blend of playgroup fun meets concert, with Mr. Tom singing his self-penned songs and handling most of the instrumentation on guitar and banjo while Vinny played the part of emcee. Children were invited onstage to dress up and take the part of the pirate themed songs' aquatic characters throughout the show.

The highlight of the performance, based on the volume of Beatlemania-like squeals, was Vinny leading a bunny hop style chain of several dozen children around the room as he worked his magic with a fish-shaped bubble machine. From the first song to the close of the show, the Toe Jam Puppet Band had their audience of kids and parents standing on their toes, clapping and spinning to the rhythm of the music and singing along to the band's infectious, pied piper like performance.

Project GROW is an accredited early childhood educational program that offers high quality pre-school education for three- and four-year-old Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester children with no prior pre-school experience and also includes children with special needs. It attempts to reach a goal of affording all area children the opportunity of a pre-school experience.

Beginning in 1988 at the Sippican School in Marion, Project GROW was the first public school program in pre-school education in the Old Rochester Regional School District. This volunteer based group involves parents directly in the education of their young children through workshops and parent meetings and through the use of the Early Childhood Resource Center and participation with the Early Childhood Council.

The Toe Jam Puppet Band has been performing in Southcoast area since 2000. The group are regular performers at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford hosting an interactive children's playtime each Monday at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm for the past six years. Admission for the Buttonwood performances is $5 per family of any size. The band has released several CDs of their original music and has also published a coloring book that features the band. For more information about the Toe Jam Puppet Band you are encouraged to visit their website at www.toejampuppetband.com.

The happy occasion also had a somber note to it as concert goers were encouraged to contribute to a fund that will benefit the college education of Project GROW classroom assistant Sharon Thuestad's four children. Ms. Thuestad and her family recently lost their father and husband, Captain Kenneth Thuestad, as he tried to save the life a shipmate who had fallen from a fishing vessel in New Bedford Harbor on January 23. Donations can be made to The Thuestad Children College Fund through Eastern Bank, 29 County Road, PO Box 455, Mattapoisett, MA 02739, or they can be made at the Center School care of Project GROW.