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ellen Christmas Comes Early for Orange Family

Christmas Comes Early for Orange Family

By Laura Fantarella - Orange Town News Correspondent

Christmas came early this year for the Batista family and the one-of-a-kind gift was delivered by Ellen DeGeneres no less. It all began in the fall, while planning a winter family vacation to California. Jo-Ann Batista dashed off a quick note to the Ellen DeGeneres show, requesting tickets to be in the audience while they were there. “I just did it on a whim, it was only a few sentences,” Batista said.

Though brief, the note was written from her heart as she penned that she loved Ellen and the show and the upcoming family trip was to be a ‘dream vacation’ for the family before her oldest son, Brandon left for college next year.

Shortly thereafter Batista was surprised to get a call from an Ellen staffer asking a few follow-up questions, like how many children she had and how often did she watch the show. A stylist at Andre Phillips salon in Milford, Batista replied that she watched the show every day except Thursday, as that was the day she worked a 12-hour shift at the salon. After an animated conversation, the staffer said she’d get back to her if tickets were available. Trying not to get her hopes up, Batista was elated a few days later when “Maggie from the Audience Department” called her at work. “She said, ‘Hi Jo-Ann, I hear you enjoy the show,’ and when I said “Yes very much, she said, ‘Well this is Ellen’ and from there it was just pandemonium!” Ellen personally invited her and a guest to come to the show, not during her family vacation trip, but the following week. So Jo-Ann and her husband Angelo flew out and sat in the audience.

As if that whole experience wasn’t enough, Batista was stunned when during the final moments of the show; Ellen replayed the clip of her call to Jo-Ann and called her onstage. “As soon as I saw the clip I started crying and Ellen said ‘tears of joy I hope!’” she said. But the best was yet to come. As Ellen told the audience that the only day Batista did not watch the show was Thursdays because of her long work day, she guided Batista to the side of the stage. To her disbelief, the door opened and a hairdresser’s chair with a large TV mounted to the back was wheeled onstage. Batista was floored and the audience was howling with laughter as Ellen said, “I can’t have you missing the show on Thursdays; you never know what you are going to miss so you are not going to miss a show ever again while you are at the hair salon! Their hair may not look as good when you are cutting their hair and watching the show but at least you are watching the show and it doesn’t matter because they won’t see the back of their hair anyway!” She also received a tee shirt that said, “My hairdresser was on the Ellen Show!” Days later the unique stylist’s chair was delivered to Batista’s Hemlock Hill Road home where it has a prominent place in her living room. The Batistas took the red eye back home and Batista drove straight to work at the salon where she watched the show air with the entire staff at Andre Phillips.

Still Batista does not know why the show singled out her letter from the millions it receives each year. “I kept asking, ‘Why me?’ I must have asked at least twelve times until the staff told me to stop asking,” she said. “I still don’t know the reason, maybe because I’m a big fan or they liked my story although it wasn’t much of a story, I’m just here living my quiet life.”

The experience is one she’ll remember for the rest of her life. “It was so unbelievable, it was a complete dream and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was just extremely lucky. She makes me laugh every day. I love her and love her show,” Batista said.
And if she ever thinks it was all indeed just a dream, Batista only has to peek in her living room and see the brand new leather hairdressing chair to remind herself it was all real.

Bulletin Board

Al-Anon Parents Meeting, Monday nights, 7:30pm year-round, United Church of Christ, Plymouth Building, 18 West Main Street, Milford – supporting parents of alcoholics and/or substance abusers. For more information, go to or call Margaret at (203) 877-4313.

Al-Anon Meeting
, Monday mornings, 10:00 - 11:30am, Holy Infant Church Hall, 450 Racebrook Road, Orange; a support group for relatives and friends of alcoholics. For more information, contact

Nicotine Anonymous Meetings,
Mondays, 6:30 – 7:30pm, Trinity Lutheran Church, 21 Robert Treat Parkway, Milford, open to all, no dues or fees, only requirement is the desire to be free of nicotine. For more information, call Bridges, 203-878-6365.

Zumba Gold Classes At Congregation Or Shalom, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., Congregation Or Shalom, 205 Old Grassy Hill Road, simple and easy routines to follow, designed for people of all ages and no experience is needed. If interested, call Robin at 203.314.8176 or temple office at 203.799.2341.

Clean Energy Task Force of Orange, meets on the third Tuesday of every month at HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, conference room, 8 o'clock. The public is invited.

Orange Arts & Culture Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month, 7:30pm, HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, check chalk board for meeting room. The public is invited.

Orange Recycling Committee meets every 3rd Wednesday 7:30pm, HPCC conference room, 525 Orange Center Road, public is invited to attend. For more information, email

Elm City Kennel Club General Meetings, third Wednesday of each month, except during July and August, 7:30pm, Paws’N Effect, 36 Corporate Ridge Drive (off Sherman Avenue), Hamden. For more information, contact New Member Coordinators Gary Wilson, at 203-996-2245 ( or Maureen Anderson, at 203-430-5229 ( Next meeting Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Refreshments will be served. Our April meeting will include a program on AKC Dog Shows 101.

Blood Pressure Clinic
presented by Gentiva & Maplewood of Orange, 1st Thursday of every month, Maplewood of Orange, 245 Indian River Road, 1:30-2:30pm in the Community Room. No appointment necessary.

The Rotary Club of Orange
meets every Friday, 12:15pm at the Racebrook Country Club, 246 Derby Avenue; prospective new members may contact Diane Eger at 203-530-4526 or visit for information about the club.

Orange Historical Society Academy Antique & Gift Shop Museum
, open Saturdays, 10:00am-3:00pm. For information call 203-795-3106.