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Happy hours

Acorn After Dark offers Oak Crest residents a chance to make new friends and have fun

Created date

November 20th, 2014
residents socializing

"Sometimes, you wanna go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came,” go the lyrics of the theme song from the popular 1980s television sitcom Cheers. It’s also the idea that inspired Acorn After Dark, a community-wide event at Crest that encourages residents to come together two evenings a month to enjoy friends, fun, and a chance to say cheers.

“We invite everyone who lives at Oak Crest to join us,” says Marlene Kirsch, who moved to Oak Crest two years ago from Bel Air. “Come and enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, a coke, coffee—whatever you want. It’s about socializing, having fun, and making new friends!” 

The get-togethers initially started as a grassroots effort by eight Oak Crest friends and neighbors who wanted a place to come together at the end of the day. 

“A few of us attended a dance here at Oak Crest and were talking about how great it would be to have a regular time and place where people can come to chat and mingle like you would at your neighborhood pub,” says Bill Metzger. 

Night cap

It wasn’t that Oak Crest didn’t already offer plenty of inviting meeting spaces for such a gathering. The Acorn Pub is often abuzz with residents watching Ravens football games and enjoying a draft beer and some lite fare. But Bill and the others just wanted a little more of a good thing.  

Together they enlisted the help of Oak Crest Community Resources Manager Nadine Wellington. Wellington and her staff guide new groups through the startup process and act as a liaison between club members and the appropriate staff members facilitating whatever Oak Crest residents need to accomplish their goals.  

“Bill approached me and explained they were looking for a place where they could get together after dinner when things typically start to wind down in the community,” says Wellington. “We have plenty of folks who still work and want a place to unwind after dinner—places like the pubs and outdoor eateries you find in Fells Point, Canton, Towson, or downtown Bel Air. They wanted a place that stayed open past 7:00.”

Oak Crest agreed with the idea, so the group hit the ground running, lining up entertainment, scheduling special events, and brainstorming ways to get the word out.  

“We have done a lot of fun things in just the few months since we started,” says Joann (Jo) Fennessey. “We have had an open mic night, karaoke, trivia night, Name That Tune, mixer Bingo. We really have a lot of fun!” 

Jo, along with her husband Jim, help plan and organize the events.  

“Jo does posters to advertise the events, and I send out emails and do the agendas for the meetings,” says Jim. “It’s really a group effort. Everyone does their part. Bill is a great emcee. Marlene is a wonderful hostess. But the star of our group is Dennis. He’s an extremely talented guy—just a natural musician, and we just appreciate him so much.”

Music man

“Dennis” is Dennis Hoover, a retired Baltimore County junior high school science teacher who has also played keyboard in a handful of local bands throughout his career. Dennis and his wife Nancy moved to Oak Crest from Jacksonville, Md., two years ago.  

“I play the keyboard, so I thought I would volunteer,” says Dennis. “I know close to 2,300 songs, including country, rock ‘n’ roll, Broadway shows, sing-alongs, pop music—a little bit of everything. Jerry Lee Lewis is one of my specialties. People get up and dance. I like watching people enjoy themselves.”

The group has also hosted special events like a party celebrating the Oak Crest Good Guys softball team championship, which featured a cake and special duet of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” sung by Wellington and Oak Crest Executive Director Gary Hibbs. 

“We typically get about 60 or 70 people who come regularly,” says Bill. “That night, it was so crowded it was standing room only.” 

Jo says the group is still new and evolving, and they welcome new ideas. She says the success of Acorn After Dark proves that just because you’re retired you don’t have to turn in early every night. 

“Like the Erickson Living slogan, ‘Add more living to your life,’ we’re doing just that!” says Jo.  “It’s just a bunch of people who enjoy having fun.”