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.
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.
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
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
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