As we head back into real-world January, with temps nestled in the 20s and below, we have frigid February to look forward to, the month that brought us a blizzard last year. But just in time to warm our hearts and give us a reason to laugh comes the creative idea for the Stilettos and Speedos parade right smack in the middle of this bleak season.
Dreamed up by Elizabeth Mitchell-Cipriano, the intrepid owner of Handlebar Cafe in Pawcatuck — the subject last spring of the cable show “Bar Rescue” makeover effort — this wacky idea will serve the very serious mission of raising funds for Dorian Murray, a 6-year-old Westerly boy who, with his family, is embroiled in a struggle against cancer. Dorian was diagnosed in 2012 with stage 4 rhabdomysarcoma and was enduring chemotherapy to fight off the disease. The chemo was winning and a treatment last June was thought to be his last. But just weeks ago, on Dec. 21, the cancer returned.
Mitchell-Cipriano has been among those following Dorian’s fight on a Facebook page called “Praying for Dorian.” After watching him and his family enjoy months of remission, Mitchell-Cipriano described as “heartbreaking” the news that once again the fight was on.
Not one to sit back and let life pass her by, she shifted into a higher gear and with friends and family came up with Stilettos and Speedos.
The woman who sent some in town into a tizzy during her nationally televised bar makeover is now going to stage a Route 1 parade featuring men and women strutting in heals and Speedos — or maybe not in Speedos — in the middle of winter from her bar to the Stonington police station, a distance of about a half-mile.
Imagine those lost tourists and gamblers looking for Foxwoods as they come across this scene. As of this week, she had about 100 guys committed to this scheme, and we love it.
Given the reason for the event and Mitchell-Cipriano’s gumption, we expect this might just turn out to be a fairly long parade. The organizers are counting on the generosity of those in this region, and are confident they will pitch in to help defray costs for the family’s medical bills and other expenses as they cope with the all-consuming invasion that cancer is. They aren’t asking for registration fees from participants or collecting any money from observers. As the word gets out, the real mission behind this crazy event should be understood, and we also are hopeful that the money will pour in.
This event, like the WARM Center’s Penguin Plunge on New Year’s Day and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in the spring and the America Heart Association’s HeartWalk in the fall will undoubtedly bring out a variety of folks from different walks of life, all coming together to share some laughs and hopefully bring a few light moments to those who need it most.
If Stilettos and Speedos turns out to be as much of a success as we think it will, perhaps it can be added to the calendar of annual events benefiting local causes. And if that happens, we hope more than anything that Dorian and his family will be there to lead each parade with or without stilettos.
David Tranchida is Editor of The Sun.