Diana Punales-Morejon has lived in Union City since 1968. Now a board member for the Park Performing Arts Center (PAC) based in that town, she still has special memories of performing on their stage with her ballet school as a young girl.
“It’s a place that’s very dear to me,” she said. “I remember how excited I was to be able to dance on stage.”
On May 27, Park PAC will hold its third annual fundraising gala at the Park Theater in Union City. Since the event’s inception, Punales-Morejon has helped organize it.
“It is an elegant evening planned with live music, a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by a brief awards presentation,” said Gala Co-chair Diana Punales-Morejon. “The gala brings together local artists and community members for a relaxed, fun and memorable evening.”
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate as well as to create a future for Park Performing Arts Center.” – Diana Punales-Morejon
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate as well as to create a future for Park Performing Arts Center,” she said. “Park PAC has really been a beacon for the arts in all of Hudson County for so many years.”
Best Performance in a Leading Role
The winners of the Showtime Awards are usually nominated by word of mouth and ultimately chosen by the Park PAC Board of Trustees.
Previous nominees have included a non-profit professional women’s organization and the first dance studio Hudson County.
This year, recently re-elected Union City Mayor and State Sen. Brian Stack will receive a Showtime Award for “Best Performance in a Leading Role.”
Punales-Morejon said that Stack, who has served Union City as Mayor since 2000, was chosen because has a long history of championing local causes and the arts.
Prior to serving in elected office, Stack was a local community activist and tenant advocate.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical Role
Union City resident Julio Fernandez, guitarist for the Grammy-nominated jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra, will be presented with a Showtime award for “Outstanding Performance in a Musical Role.”
Fernandez was born in Havana and started playing guitar at age 9. He said his father was his first and most influential teacher. Fernandez came to the United States in 1961 and eventually gravitated to the music scene in New York City, joining Spyro Gyra in 1984.
The band has released over 25 albums, sold 10 million copies, and received multiple Grammy nominations.
Best Performance in a Supporting Role
The Showtime award for “Best Performance in a Supporting Role” will go to a charter member of the Park PAC Board of Trustees this year, Steven Gallo.
Gallo is a Certified Public Accountant, Personal Financial Specialist and a partner in U.S Financial Services, LLC.
Punales-Morejon said his leadership and support have contributed significantly to the growth of the Park PAC over the past years.
A contributing expert for the Star Ledger, he has also been a guest on CNBC.
Volunteer of the Year
Also being honored at this year’s gala is Lily Arango for “Volunteer of the Year.”
Arango, a teacher at the Park Performing Arts School, organized the first annual “Art for the Park” fundraiser this past year to raise funds to support children’s art classes. The event offered an opportunity to bid on works of internationally-renowned and emerging artists such as John “Crash” Matos, TATS Crus, M.H. Yaghooti, and Will Suarez, among others.
“Lily demonstrated her passion for arts education by creating a very successful fundraiser,” said John Lewis, Park PAC Executive Director. “She rallied the artist community to help teach and inspire a new generation of young talent.”
Prior to joining the Park PAC, Arango co-founded and directed a reading and art program at the West New York Public Library.
Be part of the show With financial cutbacks that many arts organizations have been facing over the past few years, the fundraising component of the gala is even more important this year than ever.
The evening will feature performances from local artists, the awards presentation, an open bar, and a taste of a diverse group of local restaurants who have donated everything from filet mignon to fajitas.
Tickets to the event are $100 and every dollar raised goes directly back to Park PAC. For tickets or information call (201) 865-6980 or visit www.parkpac.org.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.