Plenty of ‘new’ on the menu for the 2019 edition of the Father & Son BBQ at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).
The annual event will feature several firsts --- a food truck, an obstacle course and dodgeball, among other offerings --- in this its seventh year.
Also new and notable--- the number of early registrants.
“We’re really happy that it’s growing,” says Don Marino, Chair of the event, who has a son in Grade 12. “The food is always great, and who doesn’t like barbecue, right?”
Marino has been involved in the event since it began in 2013. It was founded by past-parent Andrew Appell, whose son graduated in 2014.
“The impetus for the Father & Son BBQ was borne out of attending several homecomings and other events that saw all these St. Michael’s boys in attendance in various capacities, with a very low turn-out of the fathers of these boys,” Appell recalls.
“It amazed me how the mothers had organized and helped with so many of these events to bring them to fruition but there was a noticeable absence of the dads.”
The ‘why’ for Appell had further, deeper meaning.
“On a personal note I had grown up with a virtually non-existent father so I had decided that I didn't want the same for my son,” Appell continues. “I felt it necessary to stop that cycle and be there for my son. I had also noticed that when our boys were young, the fathers in our communities were there for the hockey games and the soccer games but by the time the boys hit Grade 9, the men were heavily involved in careers and other things and the boys were ‘old enough’ to handle the sports and other school events. “A couple of articles and a lecture that I saw on teenage boys said that it was actually deemed just as important or arguably more, that the boys needed their dads around to help navigate their teenage and high school careers,” he says.
Nick Ametrano, father of three current students, is part of the organizing committee.
“My twin boys and I got involved in the Father & Son when we were first coming into the school,” he says. “They had a fabulous time. We got to meet a lot of new, incoming students, and their parents – fathers obviously in particular, and from there we generated a lot of new relationships and that just built from there,” he says.
Another member of the planning team, Gary Luchin, has a son in Grade 10.
“It’s part of a great way to bond with the school, it’s a great way to enjoy the school and it’s a great way to meet other parents,” says Luchin. “You probably hear about your child’s friends at school, so it’s a good way to meet those friends that you haven’t met yet, and their parents,” he says.
Interspersed with the food, faces and friendships (old and new) --- are a variety of activities including soccer, table tennis, and basketball.
While the event has grown steadily, organizers say they hope to see increased participation from Grade 11 and 12 boys and their fathers.
What remains a constant, however, is the impact the event has and continues to make.
For Marino, one story in particular stands out.
“Two years ago, we had a mother give us a call and stated that she was a single mother and she was wondering how her son could fit in,” says Marino, who decided to be the boy’s father for the day and his sons the big brothers for the day.
“It worked out really well. It was just a happy time for the young gentleman and it made a big difference in his life.”
Andrew Appell says he also receives feedback --- still --- about the event he conceived. “It is an honour that this event still continues and I hope that it remains an important day on the calendar for years to come.”
The 7th Father & Son BBQ takes place on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at St. Michael’s College School.
Registration & BBQ - 12:00 p.m.
Father & Son activities - 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Group photo - 2 p.m.
Volunteers needed for registration and ticket sales.