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Panacea & Friends Reunion: Bridget Seaman's Memory Honored With Food Drive, Music, And Fun



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The annual Labor Day weekend concert at Dickinson Memorial Park is known for bringing people together for a good time. Despite pouring rain this year, the annual event continued that tradition with the Panacea & Friends reunion show.

This year’s event also honored one of its biggest supporters, the late Bridget Seaman-Walker, with the first Bridget Seaman Memorial FAITH Food Drive taking place on site.

Seaman-Walker was a proud lifelong Newtown resident who graduated from Newtown High School in 1981 and worked at the front desk of The Newtown Bee’s office for nearly 14 years. Her untimely passing in April 2021 left those who knew her shocked and heartbroken.

Seaman-Walker was a staple at the community concerts, where she would help organize and transport the FAITH Food Pantry donations. She could also frequently be seen making friends while passing around her “Flat Bridget” cutout (an homage to Jeff Brown’s Flat Stanley book series) for people to pose with for photos.

Terry Curry Laslo and her husband, Jack Laslo, ran the FAITH Food Pantry donation table this year, where they accepted items and monetary gifts throughout the show. Terry also handed out laminated Flat Bridgets to bring a smile to those who knew and loved Seaman-Walker.

Any attendee who arrived with a donation for FAITH Food Pantry that evening was automatically entered into the night’s raffle. Prizes included blue Newtown High School T-shirts with the vintage Indians mascot, as well as copies of Newtown Scenes, the Paintings of Rich Kuhn, which was crafted by Panacea’s drummer/vocalist, Rich Kuhn, and published earlier this year.

Leslie Ballard, vocalist for Panacea, told The Newtown Bee on September 9, “At last count, there was $162 in the Cash Can. That, plus all the overflowing food bins, added up to a fantastic kick-off for our annual Bridget Seaman Food Drive!”

She added, “It’s a real testament to Bridget that so much took off so quickly!”

Musical Entertainment

Starting off the rainy show under the Dickinson Park pavilion was the Willie-Portera Trio with an opening performance.

Following the trio was The Rue, a band assembled from Newtown High School alumni in preparation for their much-anticipated school reunion. They played three songs and brought the crowd to their feet dancing.

Headlining the event was Panacea, a group that formed in the early 1970s and is composed of all former Newtown High School students. Members include Ballard (Class of 1972) on flute and vocals, Kuhn (1970) on drums and vocals, Corky Ballard (1970) on bass and vocals, Jon Dodson (1970) on guitar and vocals, and Bruce Tibbitts (1969) on guitar and vocals.

In addition to people dancing, singing, hugging, chatting, and reveling in the merriment of the concert/Newtown High School reunion, many Flat Bridgets were seen in the crowd.

It served as a reminder that not only does Seaman-Walker’s legacy live on, but that she continues to make a positive difference bringing people together for fun and a good cause.

Donations in Bridget Seaman-Walker’s name for FAITH Food Pantry can still be made. The nondenominational pantry accepts nonperishable food, cleaning items, personal hygiene items, pet supplies, and cash/check donations.

Monetary donations should be mailed to PO Box 53, Newtown, CT 06470. Food and other nonperishable donations may be dropped off in the front office of The Newtown Bee, 5 Church Hill Road, weekdays between 8 am and 5 pm.

For more information about FAITH Food Pantry, visit newtownfoodpantry.org. To donate to the pantry through its Amazon Wish List, go to amazon.com/hz/wishlist/genericitemspage/34y8rsesz804o?ref_=wl_share. To keep up with Panacea, visit facebook.com/panaceanewtown.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Devery Stickles, left, of Clearheart Construction Company, sponsored the Panacea & Friends concert. Stickles joined Terry Curry Laslo, center, and her husband, Jack Laslo, both of whom ran the Bridget Seaman FAITH Food Pantry food drive collection table at Dickinson Memorial Part on September 5. All three hold a cutout of Flat Bridget in honor of Bridget Seaman-Walker. —Bee Photos, Silber
Karlene Bresson Blaser honored the memory of Bridget Seaman-Walker by taking her Flat Bridget with her everywhere she went during the Labor Day weekend concert on September 5. She placed it on her waist and said it was so they could be giving each other a hug.
Jean Martirano raises her hand in the air after calling out the winning raffle numbers, as Panacea singer Leslie Ballard displays the prize, a Newtown High School T-shirt with the vintage Indians mascot on it. The raffle took place at the Panacea & Friends reunion show at Dickinson Memorial Park on Sunday, September 5.
The second band to perform at the Labor Day weekend concert was The Rue, which played three songs that the members learned specifically for the Newtown reunion.
Newtown High School alumni at the Panacea & Friends event Labor Day weekend included, from left, Jonne and Jerry Shpunt, Maryann Federko, Chester Guckman, Marijo Karkut, Pete Blomberg, and Nancy Peck Williams.
Panacea, composed entirely of Newtown High School alumni, headlined at the Labor Day weekend concert at Dickinson Memorial Park on September 5.
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