By Robert Levine
The Homecoming Queen of Cherry Grove was established in 1976. Our first and second Queen was Panzi, who also was the organizer of the first Invasion. Panzi, Lyn Hutton and I are the last remaining original invaders out of the 15 people who rode the Sally and Randy Water Taxi from Cherry Grove to the Fire Island Pines that day.
I remember the late Terri Warren – a big, oversized personality in the Grove those days. She arrived in the Pines with friends to have a drink at the Blue Whale. For those of you who don’t remember, she was a drag queen. While dressed beautifully, she was denied the privilege of a drink at John Whyte’s bar. She came back to the Grove incensed, and told Panzi and Amelia all about the incident. The first Drag Invasion was born. We did not know we were making history. However in 2018 the tradition will continue, bigger and better than ever.
Now I am an official member of the royal family. The title of Homecoming Queen only has been given to 41 others in Cherry Grove. It is an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of the great ones. I rode in the Pride Parade this year to celebrate “The Year of the Rose.” A big thanks to Gary Sachs and Mike Fisher who drove Michael, Mr. Burberry and me in our float.
My first official appearance as the Homecoming Queen was at the PAWS benefit on June 3. My second appearance was on June 16 for the annual Cherry Grove Gay Pride Parade. Not unlike the Invasion, it too started as a small event, founded by Amelia and Paul Jablonski. Now it also is another major day in our fun and famous community. Fireworks followed at 9:30 p.m., all courtesy of the local businesses and resident donations. We may be a small community, but we are big in stature. We are fierce!
The Arts Project hosted a cocktail/dessert party to view the fireworks that evening at the Community House. It was a great turn out of members from the Grove. Surprise guests were Larry Lane and Mark Levy who sold their house two years ago. George McGarvey and Bruce Miller also returned to the Grove as guests, attending the Pride Parade. Jack Roullo and Richard Cooley held a dinner party in their honor, to which Michael, Jay and I were invited.
The fifth annual Artist Tour of Cherry Grove was held the prior weekend. Founded by Susan Ann Thornton, this event has become a great success. Now partnering with the Dune Fund with a silent auction has made the event even more special.
Fidel Patino recently returned to the Grove from a three week vacation where he toured Germany and France via airplane, rail, and automobile.
Nina Bianchi who lives at “At Last” on Duryea Walk wishes to thank the Grove EMS, Joanne Orfanos, Craig Hollywood, Angela Ruggiero and everyone else who helped her after an accident in Sailors Haven. On the first Saturday of June, she went on her routine bike ride to Ocean Beach on the cement trail that eventually converts to decking. It was wet and curvy when the bike slipped; she fell and broke her clavicle. Alone when the incident happened, she rode her bike back to the Grove in terrible pain. She managed to get help from all the above mentioned, and was immediately admitted to the Grove Northwell office, then transported to Southside Hospital, where she was put in a soft cast that she will wear for six weeks.
Barbara and Mike Pinto are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his grandparents, Angelo and Theodora Pinto who arrived in Cherry Grove in 1918. They purchased their property in 1924. The original house floated away in the 1938 Hurricane. The family re-built their house, where Barbara and Mike presently live.
Another longtime Grove couple is Donald and Judy Hester. They were childhood sweethearts out here and then married. Living here year round, they raised their three children, Joseph, Ann and Robert, all who attended Fire Island School in Ocean Beach. Their son, Captain Joseph, recently retired from the Coast Guard after 30 years of service. Don and Judy attended the ceremony in Virginia. As a child, Joseph received a gift from three “old aunties” in Cherry Grove. Donald recently found the sundress in the attic with the original note. He gave it to Joseph after the reception. “Now you can wear it,” Don said to his son. Unfortunately it didn’t fit. In the early days of the Grove, we had many such families from Sayville who lived in Cherry Grove during the summer. Some of them are still here.
June 30: The 22nd Annual Cherry Grove Garden Tour will be held from noon to 4 p.m. A reception will follow from 4:30-6 p.m. A $20 donation covers the tour and the reception. See our table set up in town that morning.
June 30: Panzi is directing the Arts Project 70th Anniversary show, “70 Girls, 70 Years.” The all-star Cherry Grove cast will entertain you.
July 6-12: Daniel Nardicio and the Arts Project present Club Cumming at the Beach. The week-long festival will include concerts, parties, burlesque, knitting, tea dances, show tunes and art classes. Join the fun!
July 14: On Bastille Day, join Rose Levine in “Le Vie en Rose,” at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale for both the show that evening, as well as all other events for the season. Stop by the Community House box office either Saturday or Sunday, from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m., or visit online at www.artsprojectcg.org.
Ongoing: Don’t forget bingo at the Community House every Sunday at 7 p.m.