By Robert Levine
This is my 45th season writing my column. I began in 1973, when Rhoda Gould, who wrote the Cherry Grove column for Fire Island News, moved to Oaxaca, Mexico. She recommended that I replace her. I have made a few changes through the years, like Liz Smith and other columnists, and now I’m celebrating my fourth season back with Fire Island News. The seasons went by quickly and now we are ready to tackle the fun on the Island – so let’s begin!
The 2017 season ended with the annual Toga party hosted by Roland Michely and Joe Anania at their beautiful oceanfront home, and then the Arts Project Annual Ball with an enthusiastic dressed up crowd. In New York City, Michael and I were invited to private dinner parties with Roland and Joe, Diane Romano and Patricia Goeff, and Jack Roullo and Richard Cooley. We attended the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade/Brunch at Chris Lacovara and Sam Smith’s glorious penthouse on Central Park West, among the many CG friends.
Rose Levine performed my cabaret act in December and March at Pangea. We attended the cabaret performance of Chris Caswell at the Laurie Beecham Theatre. We spent many long weekends in Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Southampton and Hudson, New York. I traveled to Paris and London, where I visited with Peggy Samson and her husband, Marty, who are homeowners in Cherry Grove. I also had dinner with William Loschert and his partner who live in London. For the past 10 years they have spent time in the Grove; they will return again in July.
Best wishes to Mel Rock and Don Robb who sold their house on the Bay. They will rent for a few weeks this summer. Also best wishes to George Mc- Garvey and Bruce Miller. They will not rent this summer, but will return as guests. Tim Tarico has settled into his beautiful new house in the Grove. Welcome new Cherry Grove homeowners Patrick Karcher, Bill Beauchamp and Michael Lonergan, David Korman, Julia Sanderson and Michelle McDonald.
On April 8, the TLC Channel featured Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo and her appearance in Cherry Grove last July, hosted by The Arts Project. It was exciting to see so many of our residents featured on the show. CG resident fashion expert George Brescia also made a TV appearance on NBC’s “What They Were Wearing,” to report on the designer duds the day after the Oscars.
Cinco de Mayo and the 144th Kentucky Derby were celebrated together at Island Breeze. So many people and GREAT HATS! The gathering benefited the Concerned Women of Cherry Grove, a worthy cause.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS had its annual Easter Bonnet Fund Raiser on April 23 and 24, at the Minskoff Theatre in Manhattan. This event began in 1989, in the basement of the Palace Theatre during the run of “La Cage Aux Folles.” It has become a major fundraiser. Each Broadway show is represented with a song and dance or a spoof on current events. One person in each group wears an Easter bonnet. Our very own Phillip Stoeher (former Homecoming Queen Philomena) is presently a dresser with the “Waitress” company. He made the hat he wore that evening. Another Cherry Grove resident, Jerad Bortz, the longtime musical coach for “Wicked,” was honored that evening. Jerad and his husband, Steve Skeels, were traveling to the Poconos last winter and had a terrible accident in a snowstorm, which left Jared paralyzed. Michael and I spoke with him after the show. Fortunately he is in high spirits. He too sported a ”Wicked” bonnet, and won the top prize that day. Nicole LaFountaine from the Pines was one of the panel judges.
Jimmy Ciervo hosted a memorial luncheon in East Patchogue in honor of his longtime partner, the late Michael McGovern, who past away last year. At least 80 people were in attendance. It was a beautiful tribute. This past year we lost too many people who visited or lived in the Grove: Howard Apperman, Joel Gerson, Irene Kopchak, Jean-Pierre LeMaire, Fred Little, Giovanni Massura, Juan Punchin, Bob Younger and “A Chorus Line” Tony Award-winner Sammy Williams.
Back to Liz Smith. Upon my arrival in Cherry Grove, I met Liz, who became a celebrity syndicated New York City columnist and TV host. She lived in the Grove, attended all the parties and participated in community activities. Through the many years, we’d run into each other regularly as we were circulating. I attended her memorial service at the Majestic Theater in January.
• The Arts Project will hold it’s 42nd annual Homecoming Queen contest on Sunday, May 27, at the Community House.
• The annual PAWS Benefit, organized by Valerie Perez, will be held at the Community House, on Saturday, June 2; doors open at 8 p.m. There will be cabaret, raffle, 50/50 and, of course, their the famous dessert table. Entrance fee: $10.
• Come celebrate Gay Pride Month at a presentation about the history and the relationship between the Pines, Cherry Grove and Sayville communities through the years, at Sayville Library, 88 Greene Ave., will sponsor a talk, “Sayville – Gateway to the LGBT Community of The Pines and Cherry Grove,” on Thursday, June 7, from 7-8:30 p.m. I will be one of the guest speakers. Visit sayvillelibrary. org for more information.
• The 5th Annual The Artist Tour of Cherry Grove will be held on the weekend of June 8. This year they will be partnering with The Dune Fund and featuring a Silent Auction. Time and location to be announced.