Featured, Local News

West meets East at Okemo bachelor party

By Kurt Wehde

Will Novak, center, visited Okemo from Phoenix to crash a bachelor party in ’80s-style ski gear.

By Katy Savage

LUDLOW— Will Novak from Phoenix, Arizona, became an overnight celebrity when he decided to fly from Arizona to Ludlow to crash a bachelor party he was accidentally invited to. Novak has appeared on national and international news stations, from NBC Nightly News to ABC’s Good Morning America.

“I’m glad it’s making people laugh,” said Novak.

It started when Novak accidentally received an email inviting him to Angelo Onello’s 80’s-style bachelor party at Okemo Mountain Resort over Martin Luther King weekend. The email was intended for a different Will Novak with a similar email address.

The Phoenix Novak, who had never met Angelo, wrote a witty response back.

“I am a Will Novak who lives in Arizona. Vermont seems like a very far way for me to travel for the bachelor party of a guy I’ve never met,” Novak wrote by email. “That being said: f****** count me in! From the contents of this email, Angelo sounds tremendous and I want to help send him off in style.”

To Novak’s surprise, the groom’s brother Devin Onello wrote back, insisting Novak fly east and party with them.

“William Novak, the one in Phoenix, we look forward to meeting you and helping us send Angelo off,” Devin wrote. “If you think we are kidding we are not.”

Novak, 35, is a self-described nerd who works for the city of Mesa, Arizona, in the economic development department. He lives with  hiswife Veronica and their 10-month-old baby Olivia.

Novak bought a plane ticket and started a GoFundMe, hoping to raise $750 to support his trip. Within a few hours, news outlets picked up the story and Novak had quickly raised well over the amount he needed.

“This is all very typical behavior of my husband,” Veronica wrote on Facebook.

When Novak made it to Boston, the rental car company had picked up on the story and upgraded Novak from a mini van to a $80,000 Maserati SUV.

Several restaurants, from Massachusetts to Vermont invited Novak to stop for free meals and drinks on his way to Ludlow.

Novak received free beef jerky, free Hawaiian T-shirts,  free tote bags, discounted ski rentals and a free ski lesson. Okemo welcomed the entire bachelor party with a banner and free hats. The Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Department of Tourism gave everyone free gift baskets.

“He made out like a bandit,” Okemo spokesperson Bonnie MacPherson said.

The Proctorsville Fire Department also joined in the fun and picked Angelo’s friends up by fire truck to take them to the Killarney Pub for free wings Friday night.

“It was quite entertaining. They are a good group of guys,” said Proctorsville Fire Department Deputy Chief Bob Glidden, Jr. “It was definitely something you don’t see a lot of in today’s world.”

On Saturday, the bachelor party wore ’80s gear on the slopes as fans screamed their names and filmed them.

“We were treated like kings,” Novak said in a phone interview from his Phoenix home.  Novak wore a white, one-piece outfit with a fanny pack.“It was ridiculous. It was totally over the top and wonderful.”

The weekend was a whirlwind.

Novak admitted he and Angelo’s friends have differences.

Novak doesn’t drink—not even coffee.

“I’m basically a Mormon,” Novak said.

Angelo’s friends take drinking to another level.

While Angelo and his friends partied, Novak asked if they wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons.

Novak offered to bring his “sweet” Nintendo Switch and Sudoku puzzles. He offered to play Indian Leg Wrestle.

Angelo wasn’t into that.

Angelo, 37, works as an engineer in New Jersey. He and his brother have been coming to Okemo to ski race and party since they were 16.

Most of Angelo’s friends went to school at the University of Vermont, where Angelo is known for putting a coach through his apartment window his first week.

“That’s how you do it,” Angelo shrugged Sunday afternoon.

Angelo got several eviction letters from his Burlington landlord but, “it’s impossible to try to evict someone in Vermont,” he said.

Angelo’s friends have grown used to his party habits.

Angelo and his friends stayed in Perkinsville, off a road deep in the woods owned by a family friend.

This was the first unknown guest Angelo has had.

Novak, the one from Phoenix arrived at 2 a.m. Saturday hoping to go straight to bed while Angelo and his friends shot off fireworks and played metal music until 5 a.m.

“These guys told me they like to party but they were not kidding,” Novak said. “(Angelo) takes it to 11. He is the king of party. He can just go, go, go and seems to never tire.”

Angelo and his friends admit they’re intimidating.

“He’s got some courage,” Angelo’s friend Brian Leeman said. “He’s a good sport. He fit right in.”

By Sunday afternoon, the home was trashed.

Some of Angelo’s friends were asleep on the couch. Some watched the NFL playoff game.

Angelo drank orange juice in his pajama bottoms and wore a Taylor Swift T-shirt.

The real Will Novak wore a self-made sling over his left arm. He thought he may have dislocated his shoulder after he fell skiing, but he couldn’t be bothered to go to a doctors clinic.

Novak, the one from Arizona, left Sunday morning  after he got his Maserati rental stuck in a snowbank with more than a foot of snow on the ground. Devin used a rope to tow Novak out.

“He couldn’t even make it out of the parking lot,” Devin said. “I can’t imagine what he’s going to do on (Route) 100.”

The bachelor party was invited to appear on “Good Morning America” Monday and Novak was determined to get there. The rest of Angelo’s party guests were planning to leave Vermont Sunday night to drive five hours to New York City. Angelo wasn’t sure if he’d make it to the show.

“I don’t do mornings,” he said. “Seriously.”

Angelo’s friends were unfazed the bachelor party went viral.

Even now, they shrug it off—“Of course—it’s Angelo,” they said. “It was only a matter of time.”

Angelo and his guests didn’t care about the news attention.

“Even if the news didn’t take part like it did we still would have welcomed (Novak) with open arms,” Devin said.

The weekend was unforgettable and the story touched lives around the world.

“The coolest part is so many people we got to meet this weekend,” said Leeman, Angelo’s friend. “Only in Vermont do you get this kind of reception where people come out and make posters for you.”

Novak made it back to Arizona on Monday night and took a sick day on Tuesday.

“I got about four hours of sleep all weekend,” he said by phone.

Novak was invited to fly back east in two weeks to crash Angelo’s wedding in New Jersey, but opted not to.

“It’s the bride’s day,” he said.

Angelo’s wedding will be similar to the bachelor party. He is requiring all the men in the wedding to wear an exotic shirt under their suit.

The place they’re staying at is nice, Angelo said, “but we’re going to give them a run for their money.”

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