The "Glimmer Twins" - Rolling Stones Tribute Band
Producer at the Camp Jefferson Amphitheater, president of the Jefferson Highlights Community Television, past engineering supervisor at NBC Universal, Art Bonito is a man with a big heart. After a 40 year career as an engineering supervisor at NBC, he retired and found he couldn’t just “sit on his hands”.
Having always given back to the community, Art began volunteering with Jefferson Highlights Community Television, a nonprofit cable television organization that has produced over 4,000 shows since it was started in 1984. When Jefferson Township bought the Camp Jefferson property on Weldon Road, Art built a TV production studio and a small movie theater in two of the cabins that became available to him.
Art Bonito explains the evolution of the amphitheater project.
The volunteer staff at the amphitheater: Pete Russo, Rich Woznicki, Barre Murray, Rich Willis, Haley James, Art Bonito and Carrie Cullen
The existing small amphitheatre behind the cabins inspired and challenged him to fulfill his dream of bringing top-notch entertainment to his community. After his retirement form NBC, Art began renovating the property and with the help of an army of volunteers. Pouring in his own funds, Art created a first-rate 500 seat outdoor theater for family concerts and activities at Camp Jefferson. All of the electrical work was done professionally; the wiring was run underground, and there are separate circuit boards for lighting and sound. The facilities are truly state of the art. There are fog and smoke machines, computer controlled lighting and pyrotechnics. There is bench seating, stadium seating and lawn seating that can accommodate 500-600 people.
“I don’t fool around. ” he says.
The biggest compliment Art has received about the venue has been – “there is nothing like this around here!”
Photo by Bob Keppel
Ticket sales have quadrupled since the Camp Jefferson Art Bonito Amphitheatre opened its doors in 2007. Art came upon the “tribute band” format two years ago and hit a home run. “If it’s gonna put people in seats, you’ve gotta book ‘em. This format has been a hit with patrons both young and old. I love to see 7 year olds rocking out in their seats next to their grandparents. We have a great vibe here.” he says.
Art's records show that 74% of audience that see one show,
come for another, as was the case withPeter Forte and his daughter. Veronica, 6,
of Denville at the Rolling Stones tribute show by the Glimmer Twins. “I come every summer at least once.”
Photos by Bob Keppel
The performers are given genuine “rock star’ treatment; there’s a trailer with showers and a dressing room for their use, along with a fully catered meal before each show. Art Bonito:“If you treat people right, it comes back threefold”
Art’s generosity is not only apparent with the way he treats the performers, but in his ticket pricing and policies too. His “no ticket wasted program” and “kids under 10 admitted free” make the amphitheater a venue that is hard to resist. If for any reason a patron misses a performance, he or she can use the ticket for any remaining concert in the same season. All kids under 10 are admitted free when accompanied by a paid ticket-holding adult. . “Where else can a family of 5, a mom a dad and 3 kids, go for $40 – it is cheaper than going to the movies”
“I feel in my heart that this is going to work,” says Art. “ Right now we’re making 3,00 people a year happy.”
The Jefferson Highlights Concert Series have been a labor of love, a dream come true. Art Bonito has given so much of himself to our community. Come be a part of the fun this summer!