Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Person of the Week

John Bimonte Delivers Socially Distant Prom to NHHS Seniors


North Haven booster John Bimonte didn’t want to let 2020 past without giving the North Haven High School Class of 2020 a chance at some sort of prom.

Photo courtesy of John Bimonte

North Haven booster John Bimonte didn’t want to let 2020 past without giving the North Haven High School Class of 2020 a chance at some sort of prom. (Photo courtesy of John Bimonte )

On May 15, John Bimonte realized how upset he was about not serving as D.J. at the North Haven High School senior prom that night as it was canceled due to COVID-19. Having grown up in town, coaching basketball, and working for the recreation department, John knew many of the seniors and their families.

“Knowing that they weren’t having their prom and missing out on so many other great events—the senior picnic, Project Graduation, and actual graduation—really bothered me,” says John, a Class of 1995 graduate. “I still have those memories from 25 years ago and when they walked out of their classrooms back in March, they had no way of knowing that was the last time they’re actually be in class with their friends, classmates, and teachers.”

As the owner of Double J. Sound, John has seen the seniors make memories firsthand for the last several years. While he has heard that there are hopes to have a prom later in the summer if the restrictions are lifted, he wanted to give the seniors something to look forward to now.

He found a Facebook group for the parents and friends of 2020 graduates and asked the moderator’s thoughts on a socially distant prom. John proposed the idea of setting up his D.J. station at his home and inviting prom-goers to come by.

“I put the idea out there to the group and the feedback was overwhelming so I picked a day and put it out there,” says John. “I’m not doing this for myself or for money, I’m doing this because I feel bad for the students.”

The socially distant prom was held on May 21. Find photos from the event at Zip06.com.

While this is the latest way John has volunteered his time, it is certainly not the first. Much of his volunteer work was born out of his love for sports. John played football and baseball as a freshman and played basketball throughout his years at North Haven High School.

When his son John, who is now 13, was in 1st grade, John got involved in coaching basketball and has been involved ever since. He has enjoyed sharing his passion for the sport with his son, who plays basketball year-round.

“Since he was little, he always wanted a ball in his hands. As someone who played sports, I was happy about that,” says John, who also enjoys watching sports and attending sporting events with his family. “He loves to watch games with me. It’s something I always did with my dad growing up. Him staying up late to watch the Super Bowl this year was hopefully a memory he’ll remember.”

John and his family cheer on the New York Mets and New York Jets, as well as the Detroit Pistons. They enjoy attending Hartford Yard Goats’ games and he and his wife, Fran, are looking forward to taking three-year-old Ava to her first Mets game.

Though John and Fran both graduated in 1995 with Fran being a standout volleyball player for the Indians, the couple didn’t start dating until 1999. They have been married since 2003.

John has also volunteered with Special Olympics of Connecticut for many years with Fran and John. After Ava was born, Fran stayed with her and John and John continued to volunteer.

“I’ve always tried to instill in my son that everyone should be treated the same,” says John.

Several years ago, John signed his son up for Baseline Madness, a Junior NBA basketball league held at the East Haven hockey rink. The co-ed league is broken into teams by ages and has three courts of games playing twice a week with players from throughout the area.

John volunteered to coach in the program the first year he signed his son up. The next year he was asked to be part of the board. He enjoys coaching the team and being part of helping to organize the program’s All-Star night.

“It gives kids an opportunity to play basketball in the summer in a safe environment. It’s all games, no practices,” says John. “The All-Star night is a fun night and a great fundraiser. I’m honored to be a part of the board.”

Last year’s program saw 120 kids taking part in the program. Like many things this summer, the fate of the program is yet to be decided. In addition to affecting his volunteer work, COVID-19 is making an impact on John’s day job as well.

This September marks the 25th year that John has worked at the North Haven Recreation Department. He started as a daycare teacher, holding that job for nine years before serving the last 16 as program coordinator.

The pandemic forced the department to cancel all of its spring programming and John and his co-workers are currently waiting on guidelines as far as being able to open summer camp. John also oversees the town’s adult softball league, which was scheduled to start in April.

“Right now that’s on hold and we’re waiting to hear if we can possibly have a shortened season because everyone wants to play,” says John. “Unfortunately due to the pandemic, a lot of things we’ve had planned have had to be canceled.”

For now, John hopes he was able to give North Haven seniors some memories to carry with them as they graduate and he looks forward to reconnecting with the community through his job and his volunteer work.

“Our tight-knit community means a lot to me,” says John. “I know if we’d moved somewhere else, we would have met new people, but I love North Haven.

Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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