About the Hi-Liters

The Kiwanis Hi-Liters of Meriden, Connecticut had its beginning in 1952 when Dick Fontanella, a 16 y/o student at Meriden High School, started with seven teenage performers. Following graduation, Fontanella expanded the group while he was employed at local Bessie Boynton and Kresge businesses.


After a two year hiatus while he served in the U.S. Army from 1959-1961, the group resumed and has flourished without interruption until recently under his leadership. The Meriden Kiwanis Club became the sole sponsor of the Hi-Liters in 1968, providing financial support and guidance.


“I wanted to bring enjoyment to the elderly, while at the same time encouraging kids to show their talents,” noted Fontanella. Over the years, the Hi-Liters have grown a little each year, recently numbering 18 performers ages 7-15 from Meriden, Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire who performed in 16-20 concerts annually for senior citizen groups.


Each performance in the greater Meriden area has been 90-120 minutes in length with no intermission, performed at convalescent homes and senior centers. Each show ends with a rendition of “Faith Unlocks The Door “, providing both singing and spoken parts. Fontanella also noted, “The audience loves the show, especially because the kids show a wonderful rapport with the elderly.”


Fontanella wrote a new show each summer, followed by rehearsals on Monday evenings during September-January in space donated by the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Meriden. Performances were then scheduled for Monday evenings at 7:00 pm from January-May. Unique costumes were purchased each year, with each performer keeping his or her outfit at the end of the season.


This was all accomplished with an annual budget of about $800, the funding provided by the Kiwanis Club of Meriden to provide for costume purchases and an annual banquet dinner to thank the performers.