So last night for the fourth straight year I agreed to serve as a judge for the finals of the Crabs Claw Inn’s big winter Karaoke contest.

For the past 12 weeks those with and those without talent have been belting out tunes on Wednesday’s at the popular Lavallette restaurant and four of them made it through the qualifying rounds. Last night in front of at times a raucous crowd they each got to sing two songs on stage with cash on the line, including $1000 for first place.

Frankly I don’t understand Karaoke but then I have no singing ability and it would take a lot of scotch for me to consider singing anywhere but in my car…by myself.

However before the finals got underway I watched and listened as weekly regulars sang their hearts out, sometimes to applause and other times to a crowd that wasn’t paying attention. It didn’t seem to matter to those with the microphone who obviously just relish the opportunity to sing.

The finals featured some wild wardrobes and yes there was even a costume change between rounds. The two males and two females were supportive of one another, even doing an opening number as a group along with Cindy, the mistress of ceremonies…and an ex-Rockette I might add. After round one I felt strongly that Kathy Doyle clearly had the best voice of the group although her lead was a narrow one. The Bayonne resident than wowed the crowd while signing “Proud Mary” and I had no doubt she deserved to be the winner of the $1000 first prize.

The majority of the other five judges must have agreed because it was Kathy who walked away with the cash. Second place and $500 went to David Habit of Jackson while Greg Walls of Lavallette, a past champion, had to settle for $250 and a third place finish. While last night was the end for me it’s not for Karaoke at the Crabs Claw because Cindy announced a new contest beginning next week that would feature couples and groups. I think I’ll sit that one out but if Becky from the Crabs Claw invites me back I will likely return for next year’s finals.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I talked about the exploits of Penn State freshman lacrosse player Tatum Coffey, a Toms River North graduate who is leading the 10th ranked Nittany Lions with 25 goals in ten games. Coffey is among six athletes featured in Faces in the Crowd in this week’s “Sports Illustrated.”