Partygoers gathered on dozens of vessels to remember a friend at Saturday’s floating bash on the Navesink dubbed ‘Artiepalooza.’ (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)
By NICK MALFITANO
One could hear the unmistakable sound up and down the Navesink River Saturday afternoon; American rock n roll. Sun peeked through the clouds as dozens of partygoers gathered in Blossom Cove on the rivers Middletown side to enjoy food, drink and live music at a floating party.
It could only be Artiepalooza.
The boat bash served as both a fundraiser for Davids Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides financial assistance to those affected by cancer and a tribute to the memory of 51-year-old Arthur Artie Natsis of Middletown. The event, known as Baaaquapalooza during its first two incarnations last summer, was renamed in Natsis’ honor after he died from cancer in April.
Everyones having a great time, said Natsis’ widow, Feli Donato-Natsis, whose first name is pronounced ‘Filly.’ I counted about 35 boats here. Some knew about the party, and others came from word of mouth. All our friends rented the only two pontoon boats in the area to be here.
Those in floating attendance ran the gamut from river passerby to Arties family members, close friends and acquaintances. Through the use of modern technology, even those who couldnt be present for the festivities enjoyed the scene.
Steve [Warendorf, frontman of the Moroccan Sheepherders] set up a live stream of the party so people could watch online,” an exultant Donato-Natsis told redbankgreen. “I didnt expect that.”
While moving to the music, party guests wore commemorative Artiepalooza T-shirts and gave generously to the dinghy donation boats plying the river for Davids Dream.
Partygoers spoke warmly of Natsis.
Artie Natsis was the kindest, gentlest, most beautiful man Ive ever met,” said his former hairstylist, Sarah McGregor of Middletown. “He would help anyone whether he knew them or not.”
Friend Jason Olsen, a Michigan resident whose boat is tied on the same dock as Donato-Natsis’, contributed to the day by ferrying party guests across the river.
Today, Im the water taxi, Olsen joked.
Olsen said he never met Natsis, but he and his family befriended Donato-Natsis and fellow event organizer Rich Muska from the boat Amy Lee earlier this summer.
Everyone just became great friends. Were here to help out Feli, said Olsen.
Donato-Natsis said recently that she didnt want the time Artie spent fighting cancer to be lost. Saturdays event showed it was safe to say her mission was more than accomplished.
This is much more than I ever expected, Donato-Natsis reiterated, before extending a hug to a friend.