Over $33,000 given to local charities by dancers

LACONIA — "Dancing With the Stars" is popular on TV, but here in the Lakes Region, it's also a way for local dancers to help charities – and did they ever help. Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars raised more than $33,000 for many charities during their show in November, along with showcasing local talent.

Receiving checks on Wednesday were The Cure Starts Now NH, given $16,697; The Greater Career Partnership, given $8,348; and six other groups splitting $1,391.

First-prize winner Jesse Thompson was thrilled to receive the check on behalf of The Cure Starts Now, as the group is searching for a cure for DIPG, a rare form of brain cancer that killed his son, John Bradley Thompson, at the age of 7, just a year and a half ago.

Laura L. Brusseau, co-founder of the local nonprofit Faith, Hope and Love Foundation  and Ashley May Halsey, a dance and Zumba instructor in the Lakes Region, teamed up in 2010 to create the first local Dancing with the Community Stars charity event. That effort raised more than $4,500 for the Inter-Lakes High School Habitat for Humanity Club. They have since organized six more events, raising more than $75,000 for more than 40 Lakes Region nonprofits, said Brusseau. Each, year, the event features six to eight local stars and dance professionals who compete for the mirror ball trophy. The winners choose their favorite charity for half the money raised.  Second runners-up choose the next charity, which gets a quarter of the money, and the remaining charities split the final quarter.

Starring this year were:

1. Liane Clairmont of LRGH, dancing for LRGH's Family Birthplace with proceeds going to educate others on Baby Safe Sleeping. She danced with Martha Nicols of the Sandwich Players.

2. Andrea Condodemetraky of CG Engineering, dancing for the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region. Her partner was Katie LaRoche of Dancing Feet Studios in Bristol.

3. Robert Cormier, the Tilton Police Chief, danced for the Special Olympics of NH with partner is Ashley Walley, owner of The Studio at Meredith Bay.

4. Rebekah Gonzalez, a physical education teacher at Pleasant Street School and co-founder of Camp Van Gogh, danced for the Pleasant Street School Walking Path Fund. Her partner was Plymouth State Dance Team Member Ashley Marsh.

5. Lauren Lyons of Lyons Den and Tavern danced for Make A Wish New Hampshire with Shevly Parker, a dancer from Nashua.

6. Nancy Stetson, a world languages yeacher at Inter-Lakes High School, danced for Autism Speaks with Ashley Halsey, co-founder of Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars and dance instructor at Lakes Region Dance.

7. Jesse Thompson of Northern Design danced for The Cure Starts Now NH. He danced with his friend Natalie Lyons of Gilford.

8. Chris Kelly of REMAX Bayside danced for the Greater Meredith Career Partnership Program, with Sue Nicholas, a tumbling coach at Lakes Region Dance, who won the competition.

The show was emceed by Fred and Amy of Mix 94.1 FM. There was a canned food drive to support Meredith Food Pantry as part of the Cash N Cans Program. The judges this year were Sarah Gray, owner of Body Covers; Lea King, owner of Lakes Region Dance; Lenore Sousa, Plymouth State University dance professor; and James Abreau, Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars Season 4 champion.



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Downtown Concord welcomes holiday shoppers this weekend

CONCORD — This season, wrap up holiday shopping while enjoying the lights and sounds of the season in downtown Concord.
On Friday, Dec. 11, the Concord Community Music School's Songweavers, a women's a cappella chorus, will stroll and carol throughout the downtown area from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Main Street will come alive with holiday music, piped along Main Street, courtesy of WNHN-LP 94.7, on Friday, Dec. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The winners of the holiday window decoration contest have been announced. Viking House won best in show; the best use of theme winner was Mark Knipe Goldsmith; Chickadee Lane Interiors won most sparkle; Things are Cooking had the most creative use of merchandise; Little River Oriental Rugs had the best holiday spirit; honorable mention went to Thorne's of Concord; and the judges' choice awards went to Rowland Studio, Bravo Boutique and Taylored Interiors.

More than 50 downtown merchants will stay open late and offer a variety of specials for shoppers. Shop Late dates are Dec. 10, 11, 17, and 18. The Shop Late nights, along with great service and hassle-free shopping in a charming downtown, will bring enjoyment as well as a chance to find just the right holiday gifts before Santa arrives.
There is still time to participate in the Win the Window Passport to Winning contest. Shoppers are invited to visit dozens of downtown stores to complete their passport and to be entered into the raffle to "Win the Window." The fabulous raffle packages, featuring donated gift cards and items from downtown businesses, are on display at NH Federal Credit Union on North Main Street. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 16.

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Stars and Bars fly at downtown business

LACONIA — When the stars and bars of Confederacy fluttered in the breeze at Joe & Marc's Used Appliances at 653 Main St. this week, several residents looked askance at a symbol they believe cast a dark shadow on downtown.

"The flag is a glaringly ugly mark on our downtown," Azra Karabegovic wrote in a letter to The Laconia Daily Sun, "because it is unacceptable for such a symbol of racism to fly in Laconia."

Marc Quinn, the partner of Joe Emmonds in the appliance store, said that he chose to fly the flag, which he said was a gift from a representative of NASCAR.

"We're representing NASCAR," he said, adding that "NASCAR originally started in the South."

City Manager Scott Myers said that he spotted the flag while fetching his lunch and returned to office to find a resident had called to complain about it. He then called at the store and explained that by hosting street festivals, lighting its street trees the city was offering a warm welcome to downtown without provoking controversy or arousing dissension.

"I requested they take down the flag on behalf of the community," he said.

Dan Maltais, who owns an operates Thrifty's, a secondhand store that shares an entryway with the appliance dealership, said that although the flag was taken down, it was raised again later the same afternoon. He said he went next door and suggested that displaying the Confederate is "bad for their business. They're driving away half their customers. It's stupid. The stick just hasn't hit them in the head yet."

Quinn said yesterday, "We called Concord and they told us we had a right, a constitutional right, to fly the flag. It's not hurting anybody. We're not cutting anybody down."

He said displaying the flag would not hurt their business.

"It's got the red, white and blue," he said. "We're still patriotic and we're not rednecks."