Pulling off the Bensonhurst West End Community Council 50th Anniversary Gala was a bit of a miracle. Of course, preparations began at the beginning of the year, when we selected our award winners and confirmed the date and caterer, settling on the exquisite Riviera, right here in Coney Island. The invitations were printed and sent. We were expecting less than the 320 guests we got for last year’s event — far short of the 360 capacity of the Riv.
But by March 4, two honorees’ schools had already sent in 221 paid reservations — and the other honorees hadn’t even sent in their tables yet. We checked with the Riviera and determined that it could add another dozen guests to it’s capacity, but it didn’t look like that would be enough.
So I e-mailed the eight honorees with three options:
1. We could hold two separate events at the Riviera.
2. We could return some of the checks, and limit the number of guests to the capacity.
3. We could change the venue.
Fortunately, Frank Carone, our Business Man of the Year, was close friends with the El Caribe and was able to book the hall at the last minute, saving the day!
Thanks to e-mail, and the fact that most of the guests were from District 21, everyone was told of the change of venue. But, I got to tell you, I hoped and prayed that every guest had actually been informed.
GG-Day, the El Caribe put out its wall-to-wall buffet, circling the entire room with enough food, drink and delicacies to feed half of India, and opened the adjacent cocktail room to handle the golden horde of guests. Robert Joseph’s Floral Arrangements & Party Center sent the Golden Gala Anniversary balloons and presentation bouquets, carnations AND donated a giant golden Z for yours truly. The Tiara Room looked festive, inviting and full of bloated but happy revelers.
After some dancing the ceremonies began. The first honoree was Educator of the Year, Lisa Speroni, principal of PS 253, presented by her assistant principal, Brenda Acevedo. She was followed by Parent of the Year Randi Garay, who was introduced by PS 212’s principal, Josephine Marsella. The Humanitarian of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Tim Law by Yoketing Eng, President of Community Education Council District 21. The Couple of the Year Award was presented to Yolanda and Emilio Suarez by PS 153’s principal, Carl Santa Maria.
The Businessman of the Year Award was presented to Frank V. Carone by the Honorable Frank Seddio. The Woman of the Year Award was presented to PS-IS 226’s Sherry Tannenbaum by her three assistant principals and the Man of the Year Award was presented to Boody IS 228’s Principal Dominick D’Angelo, by his assistant principal, Joyce Segoni.
On top of that, Congressman Jerold Nadler presented the council with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.
Assemblyman William Colton’s New York State Assembly Citations were presented by Jeanette Givant, District Leader of the 47th AD. City Councilman Domenic Recchia brought city Council citations for each of the honorees and Borough President Markowitz sent a proclamation declaring March 24 the Bensonhurst West End Community Council 50th Annual Dinner Dance Celebration Day in Brooklyn. Marty also sent citations for each of the honorees.
State Sens. Marty Golden and Diane Savino each presented senate citations to all the honorees.
I was almost presented with an award by the council for my 31st year as president (yeah, there aren’t any term limits!), but it was stolen — literally — before the evening was over and my first vice president, Lou Powsner, couldn’t make the presentation. I’m told it was a handsome metal clock-barometer-photo holder on a pedestal with the inscription on top. So if anyone spots it let me know — or steal it back for me!
There were so many people to thank for the Gala’s success, but Sharon and I have to pinpoint those that were spectacular and spent hours and hours working with us to make to happen: Randi Garay and her sisters and family. Mary Montemarano, Michael Rizzutto, Shelly Smith and Nariman Mardini.
My thanks to the honorees for being so popular and to all of you that came to celebrate our Golden Gala.
Screech at you next week!