In a recording and touring career spanning nearly 50 years, Jose Feliciano has been honored in more ways than he can count.
“Feliz Navidad” is one of the most popular Christmas songs in the world. His version of “Light My Fire” hit #1 worldwide, and earned him the first 2 of his 8 career Grammys.
He has a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his hands were cast by Madame Tussaud. New York City named a performing arts school after him. He’s performed at virtually every major venue on earth, and draws enormous, adoring crowds everywhere.
But on Sunday, April 29 (5:30 p.m., Continental Manor, Norwalk), the singer/guitarist/composer — and longtime Weston resident — will be feted in a way that means as much to him as anything else he’s accomplished.
The Boy Scouts of America’s Connecticut Yankee Council has named Jose Feliciano one of its Distinguished Citizens. He’ll join Rev. John Branson of Christ & Holy Trinity Church; longtime Scout leader Alan Stolz, and Santa Energy CEO Tom Santa as honorees for their commitment to community.
Local Eagle Scouts will be honored too. That means a lot: Jose’s son Mikey isthisclose to becoming an Eagle Scout himself.
Growing up on the Lower East Side, Jose’s brothers were involved in Boy Scouts through the Henry Street Settlement. His older son Jonathan was a Cub Scout. Now, through Mikey, Jose and his wife Susan have gotten involved in many Boy Scout projects.
“It’s a great organization for kids,” Jose says. “It teaches them a lot of things, including morality.”
Mikey joined Westport’s Troop 100 because he loved the outdoors. He earned his Life Scout quicker than nearly anyone in the troop ever had. Now, as quartermaster, he’s helping younger Scouts.
Mikey’s Eagle project is rehabbing Keene Park, on Weston’s River Road. It’s a 100-hour effort — at least — but he’s got some help. Including his family.
The Boy Scouts have given Mikey “a sense of responsibility, and respect for the country,” he says. A recent trip to Washington, DC ws particularly inspiring.
He credits Scouting with making him “more outgoing,” too.
Until last November, Troop 36 met at the Saugatuck Congregational Church. The pre-Thanksgiving fire destroyed much of their equipment — though not their Eagle Scout plaque, or their spirit. They meet now at the Christian Science church on South Compo, and do their CPR training at the Westport police station.
Mikey — a junior — is being home schooled. He also travels with his father. He’s played bass with him on stages as varied as the Kennedy Center, Austria and Korea.
They’ve also appeared at Weston High School, and the Georgetown Saloon’s open mic Thursdays.
Jose Feliciano is an internationally revered star. In Westport and Weston, he’s just as respected for his many community service activities.
His son Mikey is following in those big footsteps.
So will they perform together at the Yankee Council dinner later this month?
“My dad asked me if I wanted to play,” Mikey says. “But I may be too busy working.”
(The 2012 Distinguished Citizens Awards Reception is Sunday, April 29, 5:30 p.m. at Continental Manor in Norwalk. For ticket information, contact Tony Vogl: 203-876-6868, ext. 259; email@example.com)
This is not, and never has been, an issue with Westport troops. They welcome and celebrate anyone who wishes to become a Boy Scout, no questions asked.
Very good to know … Still not good enough for me – though it’s not the kid’s fault. To all you great kids out there in the boy scouts – do not fear the agnostic, atheist or gay person – and perhaps in the future, think more carefully about which private clubs you join.
Organizations discriminate because their members allow/want it, not by some historical accident.
Several years ago, a Boy Scout invited me to his Eagle ceremony. I told him how uncomfortable I was attending an event at an organization whose official national policy would not let me join. He replied, very thoughtfully, with a great description of all the good things his and the other Westport troop did that belied that national policy. He talked about the great values the Boy Scouts instilled in him, and how he and his troop worked to ensure that ALL boys felt valued and honored. I attended the ceremony, and was very impressed.
I know gay, atheist and agnostic Scouts — up through Eagle — who love their Westport troops, and feel very affirmed by them.
And I have such a high regard for Jose Feliciano, and Mikey — and Rev. Branson, who is also being honored at the April 29 dinner — that I am proud to run this blog story about the local council. Even as I abhor the Boy Scouts of America’s national policy.
I very much appreciate your position – which has far more skin in the game than my anon griping. I also think these comments should be top comments on any blog post about the BSofA. Yesterday’s eagle scouts didn’t change the policy from within – hopefully today’s will.
Thanks you insights and the post.
Get over it, Anon! Scouts do a lot of good for kids and sexual orientation is never an issue with Troop 100 or either of the other Westport troops. One bad national policy doesn’t destroy the whole organization. Only narrow minded people do. Dan – glad to see you’ve changed your views from years ago.
Jose is a huge talent, great guy and very deserving of the honor, as is the rest of his tremendous family!