The Gloucester Fraternity Club Special Needs Dances began back in 1980 by Manny Rocha, then President of the Club. Thru the generosity of the Gloucester Fraternity Club’s membership, Sal Marciano and a close group of Manny’s friends this is how it all began.
The purpose for holding these dances was to have an avenue for those that were mentally and physically challenged to have an enjoyable evening of fun as well as to be able to meet and make new friendships which would last a life time.
In the early stages, the dances were only held two (2) or three (3) times a year. February became an exciting month for Manny and his committee. They began hosting two (2) Valentine Day Dances. One dance was held in the afternoon for all the special needs kids in the Gloucester School System and the second dance was held in the evening.
Again, in the early days the only music that was provided came from a Juke box that was kept upstairs in the Function Hall of the GFC and was maintained by Sal Marciano. In 1981 Manny asked his good friend Leo Francis who is a Disc Jockey LEO’s CLASSIC HITS to come down and entertain the kids. Leo not only accepted the invitation but became a committee member and has been keeping Manny’s Special Friends entertained for over 30 years.
Attendance back then was only about 50 kids. That is a far cry from the numbers we entertain today. On any given month we draw 150 to 200 people not only from the Gloucester area but also from the North Shore area.
Today, dances are held once a month from September thru June and every month is a different theme.
- September HEY IT’S A WELCOME BACK DANCE
- October ROCKTOBER HALLOWEEN COSTUME DANCE
- November ESPN SPORTS RALLY DANCE
- December SANTA CLAUS / NEW YEARS DANCE
- January OUR COUNTRY AND WESTERN DANCE
- February SWEET HEARTS DANCE – It’s VALENTINE DAY
- March SATURDAY NIGHT DISCO FEVER
- April GREASE SOCK HOP DANCE
- May OUR FLOWER POWER DANCE
- June PROM DANCE- PROM KING AND QUEEN WILL BE CROWNED
Over the years many people have volunteered to help Manny Rocha put on these dances and have become the Special Needs Committee of the Gloucester Fraternity Club. It is this committee which comes together every month that makes the dances what they are today.
Listed below are the names of the original committee:
Manny’s wife Judy, Paul and Marilyn Vigilio from Virgilio’s Bakery (They Supply the Pizza), Mary and Buddy Peavey along with their family, Joe And Edie Parisi, “Soda Jerks” Dave Burnham and Paul Mitchell, Donna Ingersoll, Glady Atkins, Peter and Grace Favazza, and Inga Bodoni.
It is through the generosity of the Gloucester Fraternity Club as well as many businesses and individuals in the City of Gloucester that continue to work hard with Manny Rocha, his family and friends that we are able to continue to offer these dances FREE of charge to all who attend.
The Special Needs Dances are dedicated to the Memory of the following members of the Gloucester Fraternity Club’s Special Needs Family who have passed away but will never be forgotten:
- Manny Rocha, Sr. – Founder / Past President Gloucester Fraternity Club
- Buddy Peavey
- Mary Peavey
- Paul Mitchell
- Paul Virgilio
- Glady Atkins
For more info on how you may help e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org