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Snyder: TGIF for family videos, chalk art and dance lessons
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Snyder: TGIF for family videos, chalk art and dance lessons

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It’s Friday, and we’re still observing TGIF despite the ongoing global pandemic. Here’s the seventh installment of our long-running series “Good News During Bad Times”:

‘Jeffy J and Sports Inside’

This coronavirus pandemic has brought families closer together — whether they like it or not!

And, for some parents, it has unleashed their inner video star.

Jeff Jankowski and his wife, Chrissi, have been busy creating and posting videos on Facebook and YouTube, starring members of their family as they compete in the “Sports Inside” games or face off in a lip sync battle.

Jankowski’s day job is running Jankowski Lawn Service, but he may have missed his true calling. In the videos, he is “Jeffy J” as he plays host and commentator on the action. The videos feature theme music, highlight reels and even have end credits.

“The family loves it,” said Jeff Jankowski, who has made close to 70 videos since the COVID-19 shutdown started.

“The kids were driving us nut,” he said, chuckling, “so we had to do something to keep them busy.”

The Jankowski kids are son Bradley, 18, who just graduated from St. Joseph Catholic Academy and is the video editor, and 7-year-old twins Casey and Avery.

Each video, Jankowski said, “takes about 45 minutes or so to do — sometimes we have to edit out the kids arguing.”

The videos “started as us playing basketball games and then just got bigger and bigger.”

The feedback has been great, with “family and friends telling us ‘we need more, we need more,’” Jankowski said. “We’ve had a lot of fun with this and never thought it would turn into such a fun project.” To see the videos, log onto YouTube and search “Jankowski Sports Inside.”

Chalk it up to fun

We’re thrilled the Anderson Arts Center is reopening Tuesday, but every time you walk outside, you can find creative chalk art on our sidewalks and streets.

I’ve strolled past colorful sidewalks in my own neighborhood, and a reader alerted us to the extensive chalk art portfolio of Larissa Arellano, her daughters Annika and Serena, and her boyfriend, Jim Thierfelder.

They have chalked birthday tributes, messages of hope and even re-created the Boston Marathon Finish Line for Joe Zons as he ran his DIY “Boston Marathon” on April 20. You can see that finish line on a Channel 58 Milwaukee TV news story about the run. (Search “Joe Zons” on www.cbs58.com to see the video.)

Dance, dance, dance

Another reader told us she’s having a great time at home learning dance moves using free online dance lessons through the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. You can find the free videos online at www.fredastaireonlinelessons.com. You’ll also find some free exercise videos and, if you’re serious about dancing, there are for-fee online lessons, too. Locally, our Pleasant Prairie Fred Astaire Studio has reopened for in-person lessons. Call 262-577-5859 for more information.

Missing the Pops

We’ve heard from plenty of music fans who will be missing this summer’s canceled Kenosha Pops Concert Band performances.

As a 28-year veteran of the Pops’ flute section, I can tell you the band members are sorry, too, to be missing what would have been the band’s 98th season.

Arlene Runkel tells us, “My husband Roger and I will miss our Wednesday Date Nights at Kenosha Pops Concerts this summer. For years, we’ve made the trek from Wheatland on our Harleys and sat in the front row with our ‘bike gear’ next to the other ‘older’ fans who trekked across the street.”

She adds that the two of them are also “band people,” having played “in the Zion Junior Band 60-plus years ago, under Dave McElroy. So we had, many times, played your tunes ourselves. As a piccolo player (and Roger a trumpet player), your ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ still brought chills and whistles. We once played it at Beaver Dam’s Swan Park with five piccolos and one whistler.”

She closes her message with “See you next year, God willing.” Right back at you, Arlene.

Saluting our veterans

Sunday is Flag Day, which makes this the perfect time to thank the volunteers at the American Heroes Café, who stood out in the cold rain on May 17 for the group’s annual red geranium giveaway.

Instead of handing out the plants — and free doughnuts — at Festival Foods, however, this year’s celebration was a drive-through affair. (Hence, the cold rain!)

“We do this to honor the veterans on Armed Forces Day (May 16) and for Memorial Day,” said Mary Domes, one of the founders of the American Heroes Café.

Piasecki Funeral Home has been involved with the group for several years, and hands out about 150 geranium plants to the veterans every May.

“The red geranium is a small token of our appreciation to the veterans. They’re the best and truly gave their all for us,” said Piasecki’s Anne Wasilevich.

For three hours on that rainy Sunday in May, Domes, Wasilevich and other volunteers handed out the flowers and doughnuts at Piasecki Funeral Home.

They hope to meet again in person at the café, but until then, I hope those geraniums continue to bloom.

How are you coping with the coronavirus shutdown? Email Liz at esnyder@kenoshanews.com or call her at 262-656-6271.

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