Stars, Stripes and Skates event at Danbury Arena
DANBURY — Three-time U.S. figure skating champion Johnny Weir glided, jumped and spun across the Danbury Arena on Saturday night at the 8th annual “Stars, Stripes and Skates ICEtravaganza.”
Drawing about 1,300 people from the tri-state area, the event was hosted by actress Nikki Blonsky, star of the film “Hairspray,” and Sirius XM radio host Frank DeCaro.
The audience saw more than a dozen champion figure skaters, including Miki Ando, Johnny Weir, Derrick Delmore, Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth.
Television reality stars including Kate Gosselin from TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8” and Jill Zarin from Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” also appeared.
Members of Danbury’s Broadview and Rogers Park middle schools’ choruses sang the national anthem.
This is the second consecutive year “Stars, Stripes and Skates” was held at the Danbury Arena. In past years, it was held at Madison Square Garden and at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Tickets sold for $127, $52, $27 and $12 and 100 percent of the proceeds from the performance went to The Heritage Foundation of 9/11, a nonprofit foundation whose purpose is to teach young people about the significance of 9/11.
Over the past eight years, the event has raised about $600,000, said Tara Modlin, founder of The Heritage Foundation of 9/11 and executive producer of “Stars, Stripes and Skates.” Modlin added that everyone involved in the show was a volunteer.
“Aside from exposing kids to culture through events like ‘Stars, Stripes and Skates,’ The Heritage Foundation helps teach them about patriotism, heroism, and volunteerism,” Modlin said.
“It’s really important for young Americans, who represent all of the many different cultures that make up America, to know about unity,” she said. “They should always be aware of how, in a time of tragedy, the whole world came together to help overcome it.”
During the show, Weir performed his 2010 Olympic short program in men’s figure skating for the first time in public.
“I always feel prepared for an event,” Weir, 25, said describing his thoughts on competing in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, in February.
Weir’s next competition, though, will be at the 2009 Cup of Russia Figure Skating Championships in Moscow next month.
Being in Connecticut brings back memories for him since, “I used to train in Simsbury about three or four years ago,” he said.
Aside from beginning the third season of her television program, Zarin, “along with my mother and sister, just wrote a book called ‘Secrets of a Jewish Mother.’ It’s coming out on Mothers’ Day 2010,” said Zarin, 45, who added that she was a figure skater until the age of 13.
Blonsky said “Hairspray 2” is now in the making.
Danbury’s Kim Carr, 39, who was at the show with her son, Dean, 12, and her daughter, Marina, 10, said she came to honor her father, the late Ronald Murphy, who was a New York City policeman for 25 years before he retired.
“On 9/11, he was ready to do anything he could to help out because his brothers had fallen,” Carr said.
“My favorite part of this show was when the Danbury police and fire departments had a hockey relay race on the ice,” Dean said.
“That was really cool.”