Sunday, October 24, 2021

SouthWest Florida Soapfest Charity weekend a huge success

Young And The Restless - John Driscoll enjoying the cruise. Photos by Steve Reynolds

Young And The Restless – John Driscoll enjoying the cruise. Photos by Steve Reynolds

By Steve Reynolds

The best of daytime television soap stars returned to Marco Island for the 13th year to raise money for various area charities and give fans a chance to mix and mingle. The weekend events kicked off at the Bistro Soleil for the always popular A Night of Stars dinner. This year’s Soapfest started with disappointment that All My Children and One Life to Live had been cancelled, to go off the air forever. The evening began with a cocktail hour with an extraordinary performance by flautist Daniel Ferguson while attendees perused the silent auction items offered by the Soapfest committee. Silent Auction items included autographed items of clothing worn by the stars on their respective shows, autographed scripts from All My Children, One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless TV Soaps and collectible Royal Wedding items. The stars were announced one by one and entered to thunderous applause by the capacity crowd of over 150. One fun aspect of the evening was the announcement of which table would have which star paired up with them to enrich the dinner experience. The evening continued with a live auction, headed up by celebrity auctioneer Walt Willey who is also known as Jackson Montgomery for the popular TV program, All My Children. Various actors were partnered with students from the Eimerman Center of Naples which provides educational and outreach services for children with autism. The Center was also one of the charities that will benefit from the 2011 event. Also the stars took part in a riotous Question and Answer session that turned into an interview session between the actors. The event closed with the silent auction and live auction winners picking up their Soap treasures and the actors

All My Children - Denise Vasi describing her painting for celebrity auctioneer Austin Peck.

All My Children – Denise Vasi describing her painting for celebrity auctioneer Austin Peck.

preparing to move on to the next entertainment venue, Martini’s Upstairs Lounge where the party continued with the Celebrity Bartender Bash.

The Celebrity Bartender Bash is an event that mixes up a concoction of ingredients that include great music played by a top regional DJ, party lights providing a club atmosphere, karaoke sung by the actors, the stars acting as celebrity bartenders throughout the night and soap fans from all over the country dressed up to go clubbing ready to personally meet and greet their favorite soap actors. Actor John Driscoll, who starred in The Young and the Restless, summed up the evening by saying “I love to come to the Southwest Florida Soapfest every year because it’s a great party, a way to say thank you to all the people who support us and it’s a wonderful event with a purpose to raise money for charity and that’s what it’s all about.”

The party finally broke up at 2:00 a.m. and everyone headed home to rest up for the big Sunday event, The Boozing, Schmoozing and Cruise aboard the Marco Princess.

Sunday morning started with a storm battering Marco Island and it looked like the event was in jeopardy but the skies cleared and party goers headed to the Rose River Marina to board the Marco Princess for a scheduled noon cruise around Marco Island. Over 140 people were on the boat including the actors. The attendees enjoyed a tasty luncheon of Pulled Pork, Lasagna, delicious chicken wings and various fruits and desserts as the vessel cruised along the waterways. Then as the tropical music played, attendees had a chance to bid on more silent auction items that included autographed shirts, show scripts and autographed books and Daytime Emmy Awards programs.

Walt Willey of All

All My Children’s Walt Willey at live auction as Miss Dottie looks on.

All My Children’s Walt Willey at live auction as Miss Dottie looks on.

My Children and Austin Peck of One Life to Live served again as the live auctioneers and entertained the crowd while auctioning off signed paintings by the actors, tours of the sets where the shows are filmed with the actors, lunches with the actors and various signed items that included books, show scripts and autographed T-shirts worn by the actors at the Celebrity Bartender Bash. The boat docked in mid afternoon and everyone disembarked awash with memories of meeting their favorite soap stars.

The Soapfest concluded with the Apothecary Theater Company presented an evening of theater with two talented soap opera stars, Guiding Light’s Tom Pelphrey and All My Children’s Stephanie Gatschet, on stage together for the first time to read two one- act plays: Fair Rosamund and her Murderer, a grown up tale of forbidden love and Post It’s: Notes on a Marriage, a history of a couple’s attempt to stay in touch no matter how far they stray. The play readings were held at the Rose History Auditorium located at the Marco Island Historical Museum.

Actors attending the 13th Annual South West Florida Soapfest included:

All My Children: Stephanie Gatschet, Christina Lind, Denise Vasi, Walt Willey.

As The World Turns: Tom Pelphrey.

One Life To Live: Eddie Alderson, Kristen Alderson, Terri Conn, Tom Degnan, Josh Kelly, Jessica Leccia, Austin Peck, Shenaz Treasury, Bree Williamson

Young And The Restless: John Driscoll.

Pat Berry, director of the South West Florida Charity Weekend says” The weekend was a great success and I thank all the actors who attended, the sponsors of the event and especially the Soapfest Volunteers who work so hard to ensure the event is a success, and remember, it’s all for a good cause.”

• Information about the Soapfest can be found at
• Information regarding autism can be found at


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