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Cape May’s First Annual Green Film Series

"No Impact Man" comes to you direct from the Sundance Film Festival at Cape May Stage, April 25, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.

Why in the world would the Cape May Film Society host a Green Film Series just now? Why not years ago? Hasn’t environmental awareness been a long-standing cause? Isn’t Earth Day… like… 40 years old already?

Yes, in fact Earth Day is 40 years old this April. And to celebrate, the Cape May Film Society is hosting a special Green Film Series and kicking it off with one of the best environmental film to come along in years. Best because it is actually as entertaining as it is effective in raising environmental awareness. It’s that “entertaining” factor that is relatively new in the world of environmental films.

"Unstrung," the story of Pat Martino, screens April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gallery Aferro in Newar, NJ.

On Sunday, April 25, at an exclusive 2:00 p.m. matinee at Cape May Stage, Cape May Film Society will partner with Slow Food Cape May to present No Impact Man, a funny environmental film straight from Sundance Film Festival. No Impact Man follows self-proclaimed Guilty Liberal, filmmaker Colin Beavan, who takes his family on a year-long adventure of having no impact on the environment and thus discovers a lot about himself and the way we all live. Question is, “Can he save his family while he saves the planet?”

The Cape May Film Festival is taking its show on the road – again! In a special event held in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute’s Jazz Appreciation Month, the Festival will screen Unstrung, the story of Pat Martino, at the Gallery Aferro in Newar, NJ. Mr. Martino will be on hand to answer questions, as will filmmaker Ian Knox from the UK. The program will be held on Saturday night, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. Details at or by calling 609-884-6700.

Also being shown with the feature film No Impact Man is the environmental music video What About Tomorrow? produced by Charles Alexander. This year marks the 20th anniversary of What About Tomorrow?, The following is an excerpt written by Alexander looking back on the production of the video.

The music for the video is taken from a little-known song by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who are now more famous than ever because of the current global success of Jersey Boys, the Tony-winning play based on their lives..

At the time I produced this video, I was science and environment editor at TIME magazine. Instead of having our customary “Person of the Year” in 1989, we named “Endangered Earth” as “Planet of the Year” and compiled a 33-page special report on such dangers as global warming, deforestation and species extinction. The issue generated enormous interest, and I got invitations to address audiences from Maui to Moscow.

Working on one of those speeches in late 1989, I came up with a line something like, “We have enough resources today, but what about tomorrow?” That made me think of a song called What About Tomorrow? which was an obscure track on Streetfighter, one of the Four Seasons’ least known albums. But it was written by those same two Jersey Boys, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, who wrote Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Rag Doll, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. What About Tomorrow? is a typically melodic Four Seasons’ love song. Yet, I thought it could be much more. Within a day, I had rewritten the lyrics to make What About Tomorrow? into a call for environmental action.

After obtaining the permission of the Four Seasons Partnership (Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio) in early 1990, I immediately set out to make my rewrite into an environmental music video. Time was short. I wanted the video to have its premiere on April 22, 1990, the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

To perform the soundtrack, I recruited my friends Bill Oliver and Glen Waldeck, a folk-singing duo who made a career of playing songs about the environment. Oliver happened to hail from the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas. To arrange the music and gather musicians for the soundtrack, he lined up Reese Wynans, at the time the keyboard player for the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. Wynans, in turn, put together an all-star Austin band. Percussionist Paul Pearcy, for example, had just been named one of the city’s top musicians at an annual awards dinner and also played on Willie Nelson’s and the Dixie Chicks’ albums.

With soundtrack in hand, I found a willing video producer, whose company did environmental documentary work for the Smithsonian Institution, in Sam Green, owner of the Edit Room in Washington, D.C. After listening to the song, Green and Jeff Consiglio, who became the director and editor, suggested that we could put together a video by using stock footage of nature scenes and filming original scenes featuring children, for whose sake we need to preserve the environment. Consiglio recently edited the documentary feature film War/Dance, which was nominated last year for an Academy Award, and also edited Weezer’s music video Pork and Beans, which won Best Short Form Video at the 2009 Grammy Awards.

To shoot the original scenes, Green and Consiglio hired skilled cinematographer Erich Roland. In recent years, Roland has shot footage for such prestigious TV shows as Frontline, Nature and American Masters. But perhaps his most celebrated year came just before he shot What About Tomorrow?. In 1989, Roland was camera operator on the Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy and cinematographer for The Johnstown Flood, which took home the Oscar for best documentary short subject.

What About Tomorrow? premiered on Earth Day 1990 on the VH-1 national cable-TV network as well as airing on several local TV stations, including major network affiliates in Cleveland and Indianapolis. A couple of weeks later I was interviewed about my video on Nine Broadcast Plaza, a show produced by Channel 9, based in Secaucus, NJ, and serving New York City. The substitute host that day was an up-and-coming TV personality named Matt Lauer.

Why is this 1990 video still relevant? Well, the environment is even more in the news than usual, as Congress struggles to pass the first U.S. legislation to fight climate change. Unfortunately, little has changed in two decades. In fact, such ominous trends as global warming and habitat destruction have accelerated. The environment is more imperiled than ever. The future in which our children and grandchildren will live is more in danger than ever.

For decades, the music of the Four Seasons has brought joy to millions. But few people realize that Seasons’ music has also been used to deliver a powerful and vital environmental message in What About Tomorrow?

– Charles Alexander

The Parade Lady: Charlotte Daily

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2006 issue of Cape May Magazine and has been updated.


Charlotte Daily

Charlotte Daily

She is one of Cape May’s best known celebrities, but few could tell you her real name. She is called The Parade Lady, famous for staging a colorful holiday tradition every December for the past 44 years. Her name is Charlotte Warner Daily. She is part rogue, part saint – sweet and tough. She is a showboat of a person who wishes life would have put her on stage, singing and dancing in the bright lights of Broadway. Instead she lives on Broadway, in West Cape May, and lights up her street every year with her big heart and uncanny ability to produce one of the best old-fashioned hometown parades in America. Her efforts are all volunteer and have been since 1965. She is a retired West Cape May city clerk and dreams of having the time one day to pick up her paint brush again and enjoy making some art with her grandchildren. That’s doubtful anytime soon, because her obsession is still the magic of the West Cape May Christmas Parade.

Karen: When you staged the first parade, did you envision it would become such a major tradition?

Parade Lady: No, I thought it would be a one-time happening.

Karen: Why did you organize your first parade, in 1965?

Parade Lady: The annual City of Cape May parade was cancelled because of bad weather. The rain poured in sheets. I never saw it rain so hard, and then pea-soup fog rolled in. Santa Claus was supposed to come to town on a train – The Lady Bird Special that had been in President Johnson’s inaugural parade. Well, they never rescheduled the Cape May parade. The kids were so disappointed. That made me really mad. Now don’t make me mad!

Charlotte (age)

Charlotte at age 15, 1944, with her beloved saxophone, which she played in the Cape May High School Band.

Karen: So you took matters in your own hands?

Parade Lady: I did. Understand that my kids had worked so hard on their 4-H float and they had won a $100 prize for the best in a Sea Isle City parade. I was so proud of their work, I wanted their hometown to see their float. I told everybody everywhere in the county to come to our parade, but then it was cancelled. I couldn’t let down the children. I was their 4-H leader. Our club was The Snappers, specializing in sewing. I said to my husband, “Let’s have a West Cape May Christmas Parade.” So we go over to Mayor Ed Smith’s house, and his wife said – “Sure, come on in.” That’s the way it was then. Real small town. The mayor was sitting there, putting on his shoes and socks. I told him we needed to start a parade of our own. He said okay, as long as it doesn’t cost the Borough of West Cape May one cent.

Karen: What was the theme of the float that made you so proud?

Parade Lady: Our theme was “May the Angels Watch Over Them While They Protect Us.” There were three angels dressed in white, standing on risers, watching over five soldiers in the battlefield. Vietnam was then. It was 1965. They were sending more troops into the war.

Karen: Did the parade cost you money?

Parade Lady: I took $45 out of the cookie jar and bought a can of coffee and a box of chocolate and some candies. We served the band kids hot chocolate and the firemen coffee and handed out wrapped penny candies. We had some small contributions. Everyone had a wonderful time. Would you believe our generator died on Washington Street, and our float was unable to finish the parade? Right away people started calling me The Parade Lady, and wanted to know if we were going to have a parade down Broadway again next year.

Karen: Have you always lived on Broadway here in West Cape May?


Charlotte dressed as a Lily Sprite for a Cape May children’s parade in 1937.

Parade Lady: For many years I have. My husband H. Gene Daily and I got married on Coast Guard Day August 4, 1950. We met at the Coast Guard canteen where I volunteered. I sold my boat and saxophone to help buy our first house. We bought this house in 1952 for $5,000. I loved the picket fence, the pathway, and how it sits way back from Broadway, in the garden. My husband died Saint Patrick’s Day, 1974. I have lived in Cape May for all my 75 years. I am a 4th generation native.

Karen: Where did you grow up? Did that shape who you are?

Parade Lady: By Schellenger’s Landing by the Thoroughfare Bridge that doesn’t open anymore. My house was at 1293 Lafayette Street. (A condominium is located there now, at Lafayette and Texas Avenue.) My father was Ray Warner, the manager of the food market on Washington Street, before it was a mall. I lived next door to my grandmother Rebecca Mills. She ran Becky Mill’s candy and ice cream store. She sold penny candies and Abbott’s ice cream. I was an only child, a spoiled brat. I spent most of my time with her, and my uncle, who ran a boat repair business right next to the guy who opened the bridge. I had my own little boat. Catty-cornered from my house was Matty’s Bar. I would sit in my window and listen to the musicians at the bar. I wanted to go on over and join in. I always loved being around people, wanted to see people happy.

Charlotte in clown costume, dancing with Greater Kensington String Band captain Scott Moyer in 2002.

Charlotte in clown costume, dancing with Greater Kensington String Band captain Scott Moyer in 2002.

Karen: Was it in your childhood environment that set the stage for becoming a parade producer?

Parade Lady: I always wanted to be in show business. But I love Cape May so much I never wanted to leave town. I’ve been in parades all my life. When I was a child, my mother made me costumes for the parades. When I was seven, she dressed me as The Lily Sprite in my own personal float. I love music. I played the saxophone all through school and marched in many parades. I sang in the Methodist Church choir with adults when I was a child. I took dance lessons with Jerry Love. To this day, I still do the Lily Sprite dance. Life makes me happy. When it rains and there are puddles in the garden, I just run out there and sing and dance (to) “Just Singing in the Rain…” Then I go into a comedy routine, and hunker down like a duck, “Quack, quack, quack.” People think I am crazy. I am just happy.

Karen: What do you love about Cape May?

Parade Lady: I like everything about it. Mostly I love it because it’s a small town. I liked it better the way it was when I knew everyone, when outside West Cape May was country with cows, dairies, horses. The 4-H kids used to march their horses and goats in the parade. Now I am lucky if I see two people I know.The development is taking it away…taking it all away. It was really wonderful when I was a kid. I knew every shop owner and I greeted every person I met on the street. It felt so secure, just heaven on earth. I liked it the way it was. I cannot say I like it the way it is coming to be. Part of that is my fault. I’m the one who wanted everyone to come see my wonderful town, and drew hundreds, thousands to my Christmas parades. Maybe it was all a mistake.

Third Annual West Cape May Christmas Parade, 1967. Dot Burton, co-chair, left; the Parade Lady, Charlotte Daily, right.

Third Annual West Cape May Christmas Parade, 1967. Dot Burton, co-chair, left; the Parade Lady, Charlotte Daily, center.

Karen: At 79 years of age now, do you ever think about calling it quits?

Parade Lady: I am going to do this until the parade celebrates its 50th anniversary. That sounds like a good round number to me. I will be 85. The parade is my stress test for the year. I run here and hop there, up and down the parade route. I dance with the Mummers’ captain, and get out in front of the fire truck that drives too fast. If I don’t pass out or drop dead, I am good for another year.

Karen: What motivates you to get up the energy for the parade every year?

Parade Lady: It’s the look on the children’s faces. I go down the route and look into hundreds of faces. It is a very, very happy time. I have five children of my own, three girls and two boys, all grown now. For them, especially my daughter Jeanette and all the big kids her age, we invite Sally Starr, the TV personality of the 50s and 60s to ride in her cowgirl outfit. I have 29 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren and most of them are in the parade every year. When my Becky wanted to be in the parade at age 3, I had no float for her. I took an old lawn mower, made a chimney from a box, and put on a sign: “Looking for Santa Claus.” It was a hit.

Karen: Do you decorate for the holidays, cook a family meal?

Charlotte and ?

Charlotte and Dot Burton

Parade Lady: I don’t cook a big meal anymore. I used to, the turkey and all the trimmings like my mother did. We cut a cedar tree out in any field, and Mother and Dad installed a train that went all around the tree, all around the room. Sometimes I don’t decorate until the day after Christmas. The parade work begins Labor Day and doesn’t end until New Year’s Day. On New Year’s, no one bothers me. No one. I have the day to myself and the Mummers Parade on TV. I love the Mummers. If I didn’t do the parade, I would be the Mummers P.R. lady and make them famous all over the world.

Karen: Producing a parade involves a lot of people, a lot of politics – have you had problems?

Parade Lady: You know I love the Mummers. The first time I invited a band, I paid $500. They were awful. There were only about 15. They were not dressed in costume. They played the same song, “Golden Slippers”, the whole route. They got fired. I didn’t pay them. I learned a lesson, and the Mummers have been wonderful ever since in full dress, and full band. One year I had to bail out the parade with $800 of my own money. There was the year there was a dispute with the fire companies because the parade was the same night as their benefit bingo game. The fire companies boycotted. It was headlines in all the papers. It was a mess. But the show must go on. So we went ahead with the parade, and a few fire companies participated anyway.

Karen: What was your favorite parade?

Charlotte and ? at the 40th

Charlotte and Dot Burton on their own float at the 40th Annual West Cape May Christmas Parade in 2005.

Parade Lady: [2005] Our 40th anniversary. About 60 units participated. We had about 20 fire companies, and most of the trucks decorated. I’m a real stickler about that. I want the trucks all decked out. We had a dozen marching bands and four Mummers bands and about 20 floats. Dot Burton and I had our own 40th anniversary float. Dot said that was her last parade. She is 81 now. She was a school crossing guard, and always did the line up at the starting gate. The weather last year was good, cold but Christmasy, and the audience was very appreciative. The parade cost about $14,000. I am $2,000 in the hole starting this year, but we will make it up with my letter-writing campaign and fund raisers. I want to say that neither the city governments of Cape May or West Cape May contribute money. Services yes, but money no.

Karen: How do you want to be remembered?

Parade Lady: As the Parade Lady. I want that on my tombstone: The Parade Lady, and an American flag. I just love my country. It’s my little place, my parade, and I do the best I can with my little place, West Cape May. I can’t do big things; big things upset me when people start talking big wars and big money; I don’t know where to put the decimal point. I think if everyone would do their best in their own small place, their community, the whole wide world would be a better place rather than trying to do something to another place that you really can’t do anything about.


Help save the West Cape May Christmas Parade by sending your donations to 732 Broadway, West Cape May, NJ 08204.

The Game’s Afoot! Sherlock Holmes Weekends in Cape May

Sherlock Holmes056

This article originally appeared in Cape May Magazine, Fall 2009.

“Hurry, Watson, the game’s afoot!”

If, like me, you’re a Sherlock Holmes buff, you’ve heard the phrase spoken countless times.

When Patrick Mulvaney, who played the role of Sherlock Holmes in the Cape May production of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Mistaken Identity, shouted the famous line near the end of the play, it marked the game that John Alvarez decided for his first written script for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts’ (MAC) fabled Sherlock Holmes Weekend.

Alvarez, who played the role of Holmes’ faithful sidekick, turned toward the audience and responded, “Funny…I still don’t know what he is talking about.”

Alvarez’s assumptions about the response from the crowd proved to be correct. The audience, gathered at The Inn of Cape May for the final act of a three-act play, responded with both laughter and applause.

Watson&someone“What most people don’t realize is that is a line from Shakespeare [King Henry IV] and not from a Sherlock Holmes story,” said Alvarez, who has played numerous roles in the series since the mid-1990s and has written several other plays. Alvarez debated about whether or not to leave the line in the play. “I just didn’t want to be offensive to some of the scholarly Sherlock Holmes followers,” he said.

However, Alvarez’s doubts were quickly put to rest, and the questionable and recognized line proved to be a fitting ending to a play creatively mixed with both intrigue and humor. It is the unlikely blend of those two elements that have captivated and allured Alvarez and countless others on and off stage to contribute in their own ways to the Sherlock Holmes Weekends.

“There is a real connection here between so many people,” emphasized Alvarez. “In some ways, the weekend has taken on a life of its own. People who see me in other places always express a real interest in my life as well as the other actors. It has become a prominent event and a weekend escape for many people through the years.”

Whatever their motivation for coming, the game is truly “afoot” during the renowned Sherlock Holmes Weekends, held during Cape May’s “shoulder seasons” in March and again in November. It is a weekend where a keen eye, a pondering mind and a hearty laugh can be your calling card for an affordable weekend getaway that can easily let you escape back into a late-1800s weekend when a life of chivalry, dignity and formality played significant roles. It appeals to the true Holmes and Maid&Womanmystery aficionados who often strive to assume their Victorian roles with as much authenticity as possible. It also appeals to those simply seeking a weekend full of creative challenges. According to Mary Stewart, a veteran actor in the Sherlock Holmes series and Director of Outreach for the MAC, roughly one-third of the participants are repeat customers. Some have been attending for 10 to 15 years or longer.

Karen Allen of nearby North Wildwood has attended seven of the weekends, and would not consider coming without wearing suitable garments for the event. Among the honors bestowed on participants, “Overall Weekend Winner,” “Weekend Package Winner,” and “Clueless Wonder Winner,” Karen has frequently been singled out as one of the “Best Dressed.” She and her husband, Bruce, scour antique shops across the county in order to arrive in their best Holmesian attire.

“This costume is 120 years old, and it is an actual antique,” said Karen about her wardrobe at the March weekend. “I have also made some of the costumes for the event.  We began this as a Christmas present for my husband, and we have been enjoying it ever since. From the opening evening, you can become very comfortable with everyone because it is a relaxed environment where you are focused on the task of solving a problem, relaxing and having fun and meeting new friends.”

Warren Brodt and his wife, Cathy, along with their friends, Al and Elizabeth Cooper from Devon, Pennsylvania, formed “The Columbia Street Irregulars,” a group of 10 to 20 returnees who for the past 14 years have arrived in full regalia.

Watson“I was attracted to the weekend because I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan,” said Warren, who has read and watched numerous Sherlock Holmes novels and videos. “We have had a number of people in our group solve the crime. When my wife won, her jaw just dropped. It’s been fun to watch the changes in the different venues and the different actors. But the real attraction seems to be the friendships and overall friendly atmosphere of the weekend. It’s like a family reunion.”

For the typical crowd of 100 to 200 participants, the combination of intrigue, laughter and camaraderie blend together with Cape May’s splendid Victorian background to provide visitors with a weekend opportunity to finally assume the role of one of their most beloved characters. Most have spent countless hours reading and rereading their favorite Sherlock Holmes tale.

Since 1990 the weekends have attracted aspiring detectives ranging in all ages from the grizzled mystery bookworm, to the television detective fanatic, and even the studious, but curious, college student fascinated with the chance to use their problem-solving skills while experiencing the charm of Cape May.

In the course of a little over 40 hours, participants experience an opening act on Friday evening when the city’s quaintness and gas-light appearance bestow an appropriate backdrop to a classical mystery setting. If you are lucky, a fog will roll in to add a finishing touch as you are introduced to the main characters at an inn or restaurant.  To put the crowd at ease, the actors weave their way among the tables, typically in a close setting as you listen and dine on an assortment of desserts.

Sherlock Holmes006If you are a first-time visitor, it can initially feel a little awkward sitting down with a group of strangers during the first act. However, the enthusiastic and charismatic veterans tend to work the room masterfully as they often ask the crowd to respond to a question as they roam around the tables and chairs. There are also the returnees who offer their rendition of a Holmes, Watson or any other typical Londoner in their attire from the 1800s

At the conclusion of the opening evening, you will leave with an item in your hand, one of the major clues in solving the mystery. In the past, participants have left with a variety of creative items ranging from a replica copy of the Cape May Star and Wave newspaper to a cryptogram. You will also leave with a list of bed and breakfast establishments in a five to six-block radius of the city to begin the search for clues.

As day two begins, it’s time to don your Holmes hat and pipe. The hunt is on as you and your fellow detectives search for clues. A word of caution – be shrewd with your time and confer methodically and judiciously with your most trusted colleagues as time is of the essence in your two-hour window before you return to view the second act of the play, normally in a rendition of Holmes’ study at the opening night site. Upon leaving, you be provided with a form to help solve the mystery and pinpoint who you believe perpetrated the crime.

Sherlock Holmes033The East Lynne Theater Company also performs a reenactment of a radio broadcast Saturday evening of such Sherlock Holmes classics as The Adventure of the Speckled Band and The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

Finally, it’s time for the final act to be presented and the culprit to be revealed during a midday brunch. Soon afterwards, the “Overall Winner” and the “Clueless Wonder” are announced concluding the festivities. Both “winners” receive a package for the following year. This past March, Bonnie Kellet of Manassas, Virginia, was a first-time contestant and a first-time winner. She and her husband, Tom, decided to join their daughter, Jennifer and her husband, Jerry, on a weekend getaway.

“The real fun was searching for clues and seeing all of the different places and antiques,” said Bonnie. “It’s such a great interactive weekend, and it’s definitely worth the trip for anyone.”

So, next time you are strolling the streets of Cape May on either a March or November weekend and believe you may see someone dressed a bit oddly, don’t be alarmed because… “The Game’s Afoot!”

Mystery and mayhem take over Cape May during Sherlock Homes Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC), Friday to Sunday, Nov. 6-8.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, and his partner Dr. Watson return to Cape May for another weekend of murder and suspense.  The master detective is faced with one of his most baffling cases yet, The Case of Mistaken Identity by John K. Alvarez, a new mystery for 2009. Please call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, ext. 185 for more information or to reserve your overnight package.

Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary…

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable figures in literary history.

The pipe-smoking, violin-playing consulting detective — pensive, dry, analytical and oftentimes grim – is known to readers throughout the world since Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” was first published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887.

In Cape May, where Victoriana is taken to an extreme, Sherlock Holmes is celebrated with spring and fall “Sherlock Holmes Mystery Weekends,” events drawing hundreds to the sleepy shore town to investigate alongside Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson. This year’s mystery, “Sherlock Holmes and the Jackson Street Terror,” is slated for March 9 through 11 and November 2 to 4 2001.

Holmes and Watson

Holmes and Watson

Guests attend an opening reception and mingle with costumed actors who reveal “the mystery.” Part dinner theater, part interactive suspense, Sherlock Holmes Weekend has guests touring the city’s Victorian hotels dredging up clues and helping Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the case.
MAC Deputy Director Mary Stewart said this year’s mystery was specially written for the event by Dennis Township playwright John Peckich.

The cast includes Jeffrey Craig of Woodbury, New Jersey, reprising his role as Sherlock Holmes, and Jack Favorite of Moorestown, New Jersey, as Dr. Watson. A number of local actors also get into the act, including MAC guides and members of Cape May Stage, who play bit parts in the Victorian drama.
“It’s a murder mystery written in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, referencing Sherlock Holmes’ other adventures. It’s always written around historical events that occurred in Cape May or the United States at that time and it usually brings in other historical characters,” Stewart said.

This year, guests will have a chance to help Holmes crack a gruesome murder.

The Scarlet Claw

The Scarlet Claw

“The premise of it is a takeoff on Jack the Ripper. What had been happening in London starts occurring in Cape May and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson come to investigate,” Stewart told

The game’s afoot on Friday, March 9 at 8:30 p.m. at the Savannah Key Restaurant in the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel, 501 Beach Drive, with a reception introducing the characters and the first act of the mystery. Holmes, Watson and other dignitaries gather and present the case.

Prizes will be awarded at the gala for the best Victorian costume, from waistcoats to hoopskirts and hats.

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

“Sometimes the crime is committed on scene, sometimes news of it comes into the room, and the crowd is dismissed with instructions to search Cape May, looking for clues. On Saturday afternoon, they do a house tour, and while on the tour, they’ll be locating eight clues, which may or may not figure into the mystery,” Stewart said.

The next day, guests take a self-guided tour of six Victorian houses from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., questing for clues. Some are valid, but others are red herrings!

The tour then proceeds to Holmes’ study at 3:30 p.m. at the Cape Island Baptist Church, Columbia Avenue and Gurney Street, to present clues to the consulting detective. Holmes reveals the answers to the clues, prizes are awarded and a Sherlock Holmes trivia contest is held. For those who haven’t brushed up on their Sherlock Holmes, some questions will be about Victorian Cape May. Stewart said special prizes will be awarded as well — awards for the oldest or youngest attending — so everyone will feel included.

Terror by Night

Terror by Night

At brunch on Sunday, March 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Savannah Key Restaurant, Holmes reveals the mystery’s solution. Winners who have gathered the correct clues and picked the correct culprit will be announced. Holmes and Watson will reward the Grand Prize Winner $250. Runner-up prizes include gift certificates. The person who falls the farthest will receive the coveted “Clueless Wonder” award.

“Nobody has ever actually solved the mystery yet,” Stewart admits.

Stewart said one other event, not related to the actual mystery will also be held. Playwright John Pekich and cast members will hold a gathering at Aleathea’s Restaurant, 601 Beach Drive, on Saturday, March 10 at 6 p.m. This “Recipe for Mystery” dinner allows guests to hear from the actors about drawing inspiration for their characters.

The full weekend package, not including accommodations, is $150 per couple or $80 per person. The full package includes the reception, the tour and meeting at Holmes’ study, and the Sunday brunch. The “quest for clues” tour is part of the weekend’s full package or can be purchased individually for $15. The optional “Recipe for Mystery” dinner event is $30 per person.

For more information, call the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts at (609) 884-5404 or 1-800-275-4278.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

“It’s something people can get into and participate in some way,” Stewart said. “There are some people who’ve been coming back year after year and have gotten to know the cast socially.”

Holmes on the Web

It’s elementary that Sherlock Holmes would have his share of rabid fans and that they’d spill over onto the Internet. Fact is, the Internet is a great place for Sherlock Holmes aficionados; whether downloading your favorite Holmes mystery or contacting one of many Sherlock Holmes societies, the Web presents an abundant source of things Sherlockian. Or is it Holmesian?

The Sherlock Holmes Museum – Located at 221b Baker Street in London, the rumored residence of Sherlock Holmes, this British site was once a lodging house turned museum honoring the famous detective.

Sherlock Holmes Society of London – Founded in 1934, this group, based in London, is a storage house of information about Doyle’s works, particularly the adventures and cases of Sherlock Holmes. The society’s web site has a listing of special events, an application form and information about attaining membership.

VICTORIAN WEEK evolves into a ‘Big Deal’

VictorianDining Fashiongr

Bruce Minnix

Bruce Minnix

In the summer of 1973 Bruce Minnix, founding member of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC), Cape May’s leader in heritage and cultural tourism, was speaking to a group of reporters about the organization’s plans for the future. At the time, MAC was in the early stages of development and consisted only of volunteer members. This small group had been working for several years to restore the Emlen Physick Estate and extend MAC’s offerings to the public and the community

Michael Zucherman

Michael Zucherman

In 1983, Michael Zuckerman signed on as the director of MAC. By the time he arrived, Victorian Weekend had grown to a 4-day event running Friday through Monday, and seemed only slightly more organized than the way it had begun. “Every aspect of Victorian Week had different committees, about a dozen organized by volunteers,” says Zuckerman. “There was a weekend house tours committee, finance committee, and a fashion show run by a costume collection committee.” They even had a separate committee that organized the cash bar at the fashion show.

VictTrumpeteer“We also had major evening entertainment,” says Zuckerman, “a dinner dance with more committees in charge of pulling that together. It was held at the Inn of Cape May, then called the Colonial Hotel. It was the social event of the fall season.”

The following month, at the MAC annual meeting, Victorian Week was determined to have become such a success that it would be extended to a 10-day event. “I was devastated because I was worn out working with these volunteer committees to make this happen,” remembers Zuckerman. Victorian Week, which is now managed by a staffed “events department,” is MAC’s single biggest yearly event.

VictDancersVictFashionRedIts roster of activities, geared toward the celebration of Cape May’s Victorian heritage, include “Murder Mystery” dinners, brass band concerts, a Victorian feast, a 19th-century dance weekend, lectures of all sorts, an extensive list of walking tours and much, much more. “Mostly,” says Zuckerman, “it’s been adding and adding and adding…”

Looking back 27 years, the growth and popularity of this event still delights and surprises Bruce Minnix. “None of us had any idea it would be that big of a deal!”