"We go to 60 places, but you guys are Number 1." With those words, Tim McLoone, founder and leader of Holiday Express (and owner of McLoone's Boathouse in West Orange), launched this year's holiday concert at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a special hospital and educational facility in Peapack for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. And the theater in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center rocked with the sounds of "Nobody Ought to be Alone on Christmas" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Catherine Aragona, daughter of James and Ann Aragona, is a student at Matheny, and Alicia Yedloutschnig, daughter of Jim and Ruby Yedloutschnig of Cedar Grove, is an adult patient. Jim Yedloutschnig is also a trumpeter, and he participates as a member of the Holiday Express band every year when it visits Matheny. Another Matheny parent, Geri Brewer of Somerset, sang in the band this year and performed a solo of "This Little Light of Mine", prompting McLoone to say, "The light keeps shining on all these wonderful people, the dedicated caregivers at Matheny."
Tinton Falls-based Holiday Express' mission is to deliver music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those in need during the holiday season. The organization is made up of about 1,300 volunteers including more than 80 professional musicians. Members of the Matheny Choir performed with Holiday Express during the concert, and McLoone announced that members of the choir will again be performing at the eighth annual Holiday Express Benefit Concert on December 20 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.