As far as Malvernite Dana Kelly is concerned, she’s currently experiencing her 15 minutes of fame — except that moment has now exceeded a month.
On the morning of Feb. 13, Kelly, 43, who is a Zumba instructor and the mother of two boys, answered her doorbell to find crooner and celebrity Harry Connick Jr. standing there. She didn’t know it then, but the producers of Connick’s talk show, “Harry,” had selected Kelly for a segment called “I Got This,” in which Connick takes over a viewer’s responsibilities for the day.
Before visiting Kelly, the show’s producers contacted her about doing a “busy mommy” segment after she wrote in to the show for tickets and answered several questionnaires. “They said, ‘We’re not guaranteeing that you’re going to be on the “Harry” show,’” she recalled. “We’re just going to follow you all day long. We’ll be interviewing four to five other moms as well.’”
But that was a cover-up for their real plan.
A few minutes after Connick’s arrival, the production team sent Kelly out for a day of relaxation, while they secretly brought new furnishings into her home to decorate her basement, which her children use as a playroom. The team brought in a couch, chairs, shelves, a television, cabinets, decorative mirrors, curtains and even framed photos of her family. The process was all coordinated with the help of Kelly’s husband, Brian, who the show had been secretly in contact with all along.
In an application to be an audience member on the show, Kelly mentioned that she had just moved to Malverne and, as a young family, they were slowly buying furniture for their house. “There was nothing down here,” she said of the basement. “These little toys were the only things here. Everything you see here is from them.”
While the production team was transforming her playroom, Connick took over Kelly’s daily responsibilities: entertaining and feeding her children, Declan, 2, and Bryce, 9 months, teaching her Zumba class, doing her shopping and putting her boys down for a nap.
“I can’t even believe this happened to me,” Kelly said. “I’m a busy mommy who teaches classes, but I’m a mommy just like anybody else.”
Those who signed up to join Malverne’s newest gym, Fitness 19, will soon get to meet Kelly, who will teach 11 classes there when the gym opens — sometime in March. She is scheduled to teach Zumba, her favorite class; Pound, which is like Pilates with drumsticks; TRX, which is suspension training involving straps on the ceiling that allows you to use your weight to tone your body; a boot camp course; and a body bump course. She will also hold personal training sessions. She said she was thankful that Fitness 19 has a day care center for her two young boys.
Besides the excitement of the television show, Kelly also appeared in a feature story, published last week in Z Life — a Zumba magazine, about her career in physical fitness. “I honestly feel like this is the start of my career, my life and my family,” she told the magazine.
Malverne fits into her assessment. Two years ago, at a friend’s suggestion, Dana and Brian came to check out Malverne’s real estate after growing frustrated with the price of homes in Queens. “We went to Malverne Deli and Malverne Bakery, and everyone was saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and ‘Hi there,’ and my husband looked at me and said, ‘We have to live in this town,’” she recalled.
She and her family, once Queens residents, have lived in the village now for the past year and a half.