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Mo-Beard HS Student Vikki Amourgianos Makes Impact Through Miss NJ Teen USA Pageant, Charity Work

 Morristown-Beard High School senior Vasiliki “Vikki” Amourgianos never imagine she would compete in a beauty pageant.

With all the glitz, glamour, and high pressure surrounding the competition, Amourgianos said it was not in her personality to do it.

However, the17-year-old is not one to turn down a self-imposed challenge, so she entered the 2021 Miss New Jersey Teen USA Pageant in August.

It was pressured-filled, to say the least, but she said she is a better person for going through the experience.

“I’m not the type of person to put myself in the spotlight,” said Amourgianos, who plays varsity volleyball for the Crimson. “I’m not the type of person to put myself in a dress and flaunt myself. But I wanted to challenge myself, so I went through the interview process. I made it through, and it molded me for the better. 

“It was definitely nerve-wracking to put myself out there,” she continued. “It caught me off guard that so many girls looked so professional. As soon as they announced the top 15, there were girls (who did not make the cut) balling.” 

Once Amourgianos began the arduous pageant preparation process, she did not ever consider turning back.

“We put so much money into it, all my family was there, that I had to do it,” the Morris Plains, N.J., resident recalled. “Just knowing they were there to support me, made it worth it.” 

Although she was not among the top overall finalist, she did capture the honorable mention activewear award. It made the diligent work that the affable, effervescent young lady put in– including raising $1875 for the event–truly special.

More importantly, though, the recognition elicited a high-spirited reaction from Amourgianos’ mom, Zaffier. 

“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” Amourgianos said of capturing the honor. “I didn’t expect it. My family jokingly says how unathletic I am. But when I won it, my mother let out this big scream.” 

Futhermore, the pageant gave Amourgianos the platform to encourage girls to major in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) disciplines and pursue careers in the fields.

The numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of men at the moment, as 28 percent of women comprise the STEM workforce, according to BestColleges.com. Plus, per a 2018 U.S. census data report, women in STEM make 19 percent less than their male counterparts, on average.

Vikki (L) and Evva (R) Amorgianos hang out on the boardwalk.

“Twenty nine percent of women make up STEM in professional careers,” she closely estimated. “And only three percent of women are CEOs. I wanted to bring that to the table, to tell girls that they don’t have to abide by stereotypes. I also want to be a positive role model to my younger sister, Evva,” a young, on-the-rise12-year-old soccer player.  

As for Amorgianos, an excellent student, she said she plans on studying neuroscience in college and hopes to earn a Ph.D., deeply diving into brain function, children’s cancer research, and other areas. 

Moreover, children’s cancer is a cause Amourgianos cares about dearly, as she has helped raise monies for St. Jud’s Children’s Hospital through the Teen Warriors nonprofit organization, which approximately 25 teens around Essex and Morris counties help operate, she noted. Amourgianos said they pitched in and raised around $50,000 through their Northern NJ walk. 

For the near future, Amourgianos plans on competing in the Miss Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) pageant in October through her church. But she said this competition is more faith-based, and very important because of that. 

That aside, the Astoria, Queens-born, Greek-American said competing in a pageant is something most adolescent girls should give a try at least once.

Nevertheless, Amourgianous said she works hard in all aspects of her existence: school, church, charity work, and family life, with her parents and Evva being her biggest fans.

Her dad, James, suffered a serious back injury over 13 years ago, when he fell off a moving flatbed truck while working. The accident left him paralyzed. He had to endure an eight-year period of surgeries and recovery, and had to relearn how to walk. But Amourgianous said he still lives with chronic pain, although he is doing better these days.  

Seeing what her dad has endured has helped shape Amourgianous into a caring, empathetic person while making an undeniable impact on her entire life’s essence and future choices. 

“Now, to see my dad so upset and in pain, it has helped me have compassion and patience for people,” said the 5-foot-1 spitfire who is hell-bent on making a positive difference in the world. “My parents are extremely proud of me. It’s really exciting to go through this (picking a college, pageants, ect.) with them. I want to make them happy.” 

As long as she continues on her positive path, Amougianous wholeheartedly believes in a fruitful future for herself. 

“I think I have a big future around me,” she said. “and I’ll leave a great legacy for my family and everyone around me.”

No doubt.

— Jerry Del Priore 

(Photos: Vikki Amorgianos)

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GrillGirl’s Robyn Lindars Intros Craft BBQ Rub, Cocktail Rimmer

You do not have to only grill in warmer weather, as barbequing has become a year-round enjoyable way to cook food with friends and family, especially for the big game.

To that end, Robyn Lindars, creator of GrillGirl.com, announced today the launch of her newest grilling product – the Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub.

With notes of kaffir lime, grapefruit, orange, coriander, Himalayan salt, granulated honey, smoked paprika, and a dash of chipotle, taste buds are whisked off on a blissful citrus adventure that begs for more with every glorious bite.

With the Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub, chicken, fish, and pork have never been so deliciously mouthwatering. Plus, it’s amazing as a cocktail rimmer (Margaritas, anyone?) sure to leave your guests enjoying the savory spices around the entire glass.
 
“Grilling is enjoyable all year now, and having the right rub is essential to ensuring your grilled delights are total crowd pleasers,” Lindars, who resides in Florida, said in a press release. “What’s extra special about the Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub is its a great, bold, flavorful addition to cocktails as a rimmer. It offers the perfect combination of smoke, spice, and Florida sweetness that will perfectly tie your food and beverage together.”
 
Any grilling enthusiasts who want to try the GrillGirl’s new rub, use code SUNSHINE for 5 percent off the first order by ordering the rub here! And if grilling lovers are looking for a fun way to use the rub, check out Uncle Chicos Sunshine State of Mind Coconut Shrimp Tacos using Sunshine State of Mind BBQ Rub.

Don’t forget to check out the latest edition of Robyn’s Grill Girl® Magazine, a grilling lifestyle publication available nationally at local retailers and grocery stores, Barnes and Noble, CVS, and Walmart.

GrillGirl.com is a high traffic grilling and outdoor lifestyle website with a focus on outdoor cooking, recipes, and lifestyle content.

— Jerry Del Priore

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Woofstock: Home for Good Dogs Rescue Event This Saturday, Sunday Features Nerds, Brian Kirk and The Jirks

If you are a dog and live music lover, then you will be doggone happy for what is going on this Saturday and Sunday September 11th and 12th at Brook Valley Farm in Chatham, New Jersey: Home for Good Dog Rescue’s summer music festival event – WoofStock, with the The Nerds and Brian Kirk & the Jirks performing awesome, live tunes, respectively.

Home for Good Dog Rescue (HFGDR) is a 501(c)(3) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Berkeley Heights, N.J. It rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in the South, transports them to be rescued, and gives them a second chance at life with an awesome foster family for the time being.

As a one-of-a-kind, 100-percent foster-based rescue outfit, HFGDR places each dog into a loving foster home until adoption, and since its inception in 2010, it has rescued over 9,500 dogs and has given them caring homes for good, according it its website.

The event is the largest adoption day of the year for HFGDR and top musical acts The Nerds (Saturday) and Brian Kirk & The Jirks (Sunday) will highlight the two-day woof-tacular spectacular.

Additionally, this event is pet-friendly, so you are encouraged to bring your HFGDR alum for a visit. Plus, food trucks, craft vendors, beer and wine, K-9 contests, prize raffles will be on hand, and, of course, dog adoptions will take place.

My girlfriend Maggie and I adopted our beautiful, sweet pup Maya from HFGDR in 2018. And we could not be happier with her in our lives.

Maya gets clean after a day at the Dog Park.

Registration is $30 per adult and $12 for children (12 and under) for entry on single days. And $50 per adult and $20 for children (12 and under) for both days. Every dollar raised helps save more pups in need of a loving, permanent home. Entrance fees are non-refundable.

Entrance will include an HFGDR Swag Bag with lots of goodies for you and your dogs, while supplies last.

**AS OF 9/1/21 EFGDR is running a $6 discount on all Adult Woofstock tickets!**

For BOTH DAYS (11th & 12th) registration please click here.
The Nerds and Brian Kirk & The Jirks, $50 per adult ($44 with discount) and $20 for children (12 and under).

For Saturday, 11th ONLY registration please click here.
The Nerds: $30 per adult ($24 with discount) and $12 for children (12 and under).

For Sunday, 12th ONLY registration please click here.
Brian Kirk & The Jirks: $30 per adult ($24 with discount) and $12 for children (12 and under).Pre-registration tickets will be available until 4pm on Wednesday, September 8th.

After that time, tickets will only be available for purchase at the event gates. Prices at the gate per day will be Adults: $35, Children: $12 for ages 12 and under. Purchase your pre-registrations tickets online today! 

This event will be in full compliance with all COVID-19 regulations. The entire area is outside and open. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the venue.

Both days are expected to be nice and sunny, per weather reports. For more information on Home For Good Dogs Rescue, click on the link to the left.

— Jerry Del Priore

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2021 Hot Summer Concert Series Shows Rescheduled: Crash the Party, Brain Kirk and the Jirks, The Nerds

With inclement weather and other uncontrollable situations arises, sometimes, the 2021 Hot Summer Concert Series outdoors shows at the Village Green in Summit, N.J., have to be reschedule.

With that being said, like the great Freddy Mercury said, “The Show Must Go On.”

It starts tonight (Tuesday, August 24th, at 7:00 p.m.) with Crash the Party,  a five-person high-energy band that covers non-stop danceable hits sure to make you rock and boggie all night long.

Crash the Party was scheduled to play on July 27th, but unforeseen circumstances caused the band to reschedule until today.

Brian Kirk and the Jirks (Sounds of the Jersey Shore), originally set to perform on Tuesday, August 10th, were forced to reschedule due to a threat of a thunderstorm, will be on stage on Tuesday, August 31st at 7:00 p.m. And there is no doubt about it, Brian Kirk and the Jirks will prove why they are one of the best cover bands in the Garden State.

Last but not least are The Nerds (It’s All Rock and Roll), hitting the stage on Tuesday, September 28th.

Originally set for Tuesday, August 17th, but forced to play another date due to threat of rain, The Nerds will close out the 2021 Hot Summer Concert Series in the dorkiest of style. But make no bones about it, The Nerds, after all these years, can still rock the hell out a crowd.

— Jerry Del Priore

Please check out my other blog, BrooklynSportsWorld.com, and you can find me on Twitter @JerryDelPriore.

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Madison, NJ’s Native Son Matt Haughey Wows Fans in Special 2-Hour Performance

If you have not had an opportunity to see Matt Haughey (pronounced Howie) perform live, or listen to his music, do yourself a favor and do so soon.

Haughey, a singer-songwriter, played a show on Friday night in front of the Museum of Early Trade & Crafts in his hometown of Madison, N.J., and he dazzled the spectators.

Haughey, who said he has been influenced by the likes of Ed Sheeran, sang tunes written by himself, with a few exceptions, while tickling the ivories on his keyboard, sans a backup band.

Though on the melancholy side, Haughey’s lyrics are pure and genuinely from deep within his soul. From Heart of Gold and The Kid That You Loved (recorded with Jay Webb) to Make You Happy and Sorry, he proves, without a doubt, that magnificent song writing still exist.

Haughey, a Dartmouth Univeristy grad, belted out his latest tune, Movie Love, whom he recorded with Lila McKenna. It is another beautifully written ballad that evokes unadulterated emotions and the type of romance you only see on the silver screen.

You can purchase Movie Love by following the Amazon link below:

https://amzn.to/3CvVxwm (Move Love Song).

Showing his performance range, Haughey played Sheeran covers as well as Marc Chon’s hit track Walking in Memphis, which an audience member requested. The Upper Westside, Manhattan, resident also sang a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, much to the crowd’s delight.

All in All, Haughey played beyond expectations, I cannot wait to see Haughey hit the stage once again. He is the type of guy we should all get behind and root for his success.

To hear more of Haughey’s music, watch his videos, and follow him, search for him onYouTube, TikTok, and Spotify.

Watch Haughey perform Heart of Gold in the video below:

— Jerry Del Priore

(Photo: Matt Haughey on TikTok, Video: by Jerry Del Priore).

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Mama D and The Vexations Set to Hit Chatham Gazebo Thursday

This Thursday, August 5th, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Mama D & The Vexations will be performing at the Chatham Gazebo in Downtown Chatham, N.J., near the Chatham transit train stop.

Mama D & The Vexations, fronted by songstress Donna Ward, is a high-energy four-person cover group from Morristown with a soulful edge. The group’s powerful renditions of hits from the 60s through today will surely keep the vibe pumping and the crowd moving all night long. 

Whether it’s a contemporary love song or a cool, upbeat tune from Jersey rockers such as Fountains of Wayne and Bon Jovi, there’s a little bit of something for everyone to dance to and rock the evening away. 

Also performing that night, from 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., is Broadway’s Andrew Kober, as he sings the hits.

Two years ago, lifelong Chatham resident Maggie Grady came up with the idea of the Chatham Concert Series, and now it is thriving.

Mama D & The Vexations will be playing at the Sandbox (Highlands, N.J.) on the 13th, the Laundromat (Morristown, N.J.) on the 14th, and at the Madison Downtown Concert Series on the 20th, in front of the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts.

For more information on the band and tour dates, log onto MamaDmusic.com.

— Jerry Del Priore

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August Begins with 3 Free NJ Outdoor Summer Concerts

For free New Jersey live, outdoor concerts, August 2021 starts off with a musical bang with three rocking shows for the masses.

At the Florham Park Gazebo (111 Ridgedale Ave.) on Sunday, August 1st, Separate Ways, a Journey tribute band, will hit the stage from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

That very same night, at Roberts Garden in Morris Plains (Mountain Way Glenbrook Road), Millie’s Closet will be performing classic tunes from bands the likes of Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, and the Rolling Stones. Millie’s Closet will be jamming from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

For the third Sunday, August 1st music option, Enough Said, a cover band playing popular hits from across the decades, will be at Taylor Park in Millburn starting at 7:00 p.m.

Follow the groups at their respective links to listen to past performances and upcoming appearance dates.

— Jerry Del Priore

(Photo: Facebook).

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Eagles Tribute Band Desert Highway to Put on Free Concert in Florham Park

Sunday night, July 18th, at 7:00 p.m., Desert Highway: A Tribute To The Eagles will be performing a free show at the Florham Park Gazebo, in Florham Park, N.J.

Desert Highway is a passionate group of six talented professionals, who are studio and concert tour veterans with major recording artists.  The band performs their rich vocal harmonies and intricate guitar styles without the aid of added pre-recorded tracks.  The band is available as a six or nine piece group, with the addition of a full horn section for selected performances.

From mega hits such as Hotel California to Take it Easy, Desert Highway puts on a magical show sure to please even the pickiest of diehard Eagles fans. The band even performs Don Henley songs such as Dirty Laundry and The End of the Innocence.

For more information on Desert Highway and tour dates, please go to deserthighwayband.com.

— Jerry Del Priore

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Super Trans AM Revs Up its Motor for 2021 Summit Concert Series

Did you ever want to take a trip back in time where wearing bell bottoms and listening to music such as Queen, The Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton, and Boston, among other rocking musical acts, was the coolest thing going?

Well, now can you can. Super Trans Am, the most unique and innovative theme band on the scene today, will be playing all of your favorite arena anthems and chart-topping radio hits of the 1970s on Tuesday, July 20th, from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., as part of the 2021 Hot Summer Concert Series presented by Investors Bank @ the Village Green in Summit, N.J.

For added twists, each band member takes turns with lead vocals throughout the show, and eye-popping, high-tech art videos and stage production pays homage to the era’s one-of-a-kind pop culture.

So, break out your Charlie Angles’ feathered hair style and rock ’em sock ’em robots, and make your way over to a night of funky music next Tuesday.

For more information on the band and for additional performance dates, log onto SuperTransAm.com.

— Jerry Del Priore

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One Stop Pony Headed to NJ’s Florham Park for July Show

This Sunday, July 11th, at 7:00 p.m., at the Florham Park Gazebo, One Stop Pony will be hitting the stage to play its amazing renditions of hits from Billy Joel to Johnny Cash, and every amazing artist in between.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Brian La Blanc has a unique ability to transform his voice into sounding just like the original artist the group is performing. Just close your eyes and imagine that the singer, whether its Neil Young or Tom Petty, is right before your very eyes. It is something that is absolutely cool and surreal. Plus, the rest of the band is made up of talented musicians sure to satisfy the masses.

Brian La Blanc is also the frontman of the Neil Diamond tribute band Simply Diamond.

For more information and tour dates for both bands, log onto OneStopPonyBand.com.

— Jerry Del Priore

(Photo: One Stop Pony).