Japan earthquake benefit event

Local musicians and comedians recently came together at Waltz-Astoria to participate in an event that raised more than $700 to benefit victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

During an open night about a week after the natural disasters hit, musician John Henry Olthoff asked about passing a hat for donations. After that, he worked with Waltz-Astoria owners Pedro and Song Gonzalez about making the fundraiser into a day-long benefit.

Pedro Gonzalez said that one of the regular magician performers at Waltz-Astoria, which is located at 23-14 Ditmars Boulevard, was in Japan when the disasters hit and that some of his friend’s had not been found yet.

From 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, there were 26 performers who got on stage to entertain the people attending the benefit.

“They were all willing and able to do it,” Gonzalez said of the response from the entertainers.

Jackson Heights resident Olthoff said, “I think everybody was eager to be a part and give up their Sundays for a good cause.”

Gonzalez said that there were many regulars who stopped in throughout the day and that some stopped in after seeing the sign out front. In addition to making monetary donations, attendees also made origami cranes and wrote a message to Japan as part of the Origami Project.

“I think it’s great,” Olthoff said about the benefit. “Any little bit we can do to make a difference and help out I think is fantastic.”

Gonzalez also said it felt good to do the benefit, noting that it was a worthwhile cause.

“It makes anyone feel good that they were actually part of it,” he said.


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