Destination: Cuba – Former Asbury Park Mayor and Southside Johnny travel to Havana and the public’s invited


havana-jazz-festBy ELLEN CARROLL

An historic event hosted by former Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson will take place later this year when he and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes fly to Cuba where the popular rock ‘n roll band will perform at the Havana International Jazz Festival.

It is the first time an American rock and roll band will perform in Cuba. And Johnson hopes it is the beginning of a long and successful relationship with Cuba.

“I have always believed in cultural exchange and building a bridge; people to people,” Johnson said in an interview with The Coaster. “Even before I was born Cuba was our enemy. Why? Our goal is that we will be able to extend an invitation for educators and performance artists from Cuba to visit us in Asbury Park for the 2016 summer season at the Jersey Shore.”

Earlier this year the United States lifted restrictions on travel to Cuba. Federal officials said it sets a path for promoting personal freedom in one of the few remaining communist nations. American policy toward Cuba has been frozen since 1962.

The trip runs from Dec. 17 to 22. In addition to participating in the jazz festival, the group will visit performing arts venues and educational institutions to observe education programs and performances of both artists and school children.

“We worked on this for two to three months,” Johnson said. “As mayor I always believed that we had much to share and learn from creating people to people relationships. Sharing culture, arts and music is a way to strengthen our ties.”

Beverly Beverage of Jersey Shore PR Agency, who worked with Johnson on the ambitious program, said she believes this is just the beginning of sharing with our neighbors in Cuba.

“Being a musician (a piano/keyboard player) myself, I am so excited about this musical/cultural and educational exchange with Cuba,” she said. “And teaming up with Ed has been such and honor and so much fun. Ed and I work and travel in many of the same circles, so when he invited me to a meeting at the Biergarten a few months ago and asked if we should join forces and collaborate together on our separate projects, my response with a smile said it all! And we both agreed that the time was right for Cuba! The very next day, this project was in the works.”

Beveridge said she is looking forward to meeting the Cuban people, one by one, and also dining on the dining on Cuban food and taking in the beautiful architecture.

The last day of the trip will feature a Mayor’s Ball reunion gala celebration. The last mayor ball in Asbury Park was in 2013 when Johnson was mayor.

Members of the public are invited to participate in the trip. The jet leaves from Atlantic City Dec. 17. There three all inclusive packages available but seats are limited.

All prices are per person based on double occupancy. Requeted singles add $350 to the price.

Rockstar Level: $4356
VIP Top Floor Executive 4 Star Hotel Accommodations w/ features listed below
* Private Event VIP Dinner with Performers

Serious Fan Level: $3931
First Class 4 Star Hotel Accommodations w/ features listed below

Fan Level: $3421

Tour Level 4 Star Hotel Accommodations w/ features listed below.

All inclusive features:
Private Round Trip Chartered 737-300 plane from ACY-MIA-ACY (ride in the same plane as the band)
4 Star Hotel Accommodations for 6 days/ 5 nights in Havana, Cuba
All meals throughout trip
Transportation throughout activities in Cuba
All access pass to all locations included in the 31st Annual Jazz Festival of Havana
Cuba Entry Visa and Required Documents
Carry on and 1 checked bag
English speaking tour guide throughout trip
City tour of Havana
Visit to the School of Music in Havana
Cuba Departure tax
Required Travel Emergency Medical Insurance

For information and booking call Sandy Lay 786-532-1751.

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