Ocean Bay Park

By Barbara Gaby Placilla

It’s June and we’re already on the second issue of the FI News. There’s a lot going on in OBP and I promise to report only “real news!” I filed the first column from Bermuda, where Steve and I went for a pre-summer vacation. We had a great time and would have stayed for another week, but the siren call of Fire Island was never far from our ears. Joyce and George Greenberger were also in Bermuda but, unfortunately, we were unable to meet up with them as originally planned. While we were away, the Auxiliary held their annual plant sale. Congratulations and kudos to new Auxiliary President Maryanne Reuther and her team for a successful sale. I know firsthand how much hard work goes into this event and the Auxiliary deserves a big round of applause. I am sure that everyone who bought those beautiful flowers thanks you, too.

Many years ago, the social season in Ocean Bay Park started with the running of the Kentucky Derby. The first party, complete with mint juleps and “betting” was always held by Harry and Stephanie Hanbury on Huron Street. The Preakness never really had a permanent home but rotated around the town. Belmont Stakes, the last race in the Triple Crown, was always held at Bruce Martin’s house on Champlain. As these people passed on, so did the races, which are now watched at Schooner Inn and Hurricane’s at the Fire Island Hotel. Since we were in Bermuda for the Preakness, we called Pat and Mike Supple and asked them to pick numbers for us in the pool. If you read my last column, you may recall that they won via “proxy” when we chose numbers for them during the Kentucky Derby, so we figured they could return the favor by picking some winners for us. Well we lost by proxy and the Supples won the Preakness pool! The only Triple Crown we will have this year is if the Supples win the Belmont Stakes – so stay tuned for my next column! I am not too optimistic, however, since the Supple winning streak continues. Pat won the bike at Schooner bingo on Friday.

We all made it through Memorial Day weekend and are now on our way to another fantastic summer in “The Park.” The first official weekend of summer, Memorial Day marks the beginning for some and the end for others. We have several new families in town and I look forward to introducing them in my upcoming columns. Until then, welcome to OBP – glad to have you here. It’s sad to say good-bye to John Galligan who spent more than 40 summers in Ocean Bay Park, many of them in “Stumblin Inn” with Patti, Jay, Frank and Duffy, et al. Patti Loesch told me that he was the first person she met on Fire Island. When John decided it was time to become a homeowner, he bought our house at 22 Champlain that we sold after we built our home on Ontario. That house has great karma and I know that the new owners will enjoy it as much as we, and then John, did over the years.

Welcome back to Ontario Street Ellie Mal and Vera Drake, you’ve now come full circle. Ellie and Vera were original members of “Watch that Basket” on the corner of Midway for many years. It’s the house that our community manager, Bartley Horton, grew up in. The group moved to Pepi Driscoll’s house on Michigan Street and then eventually went their separate ways when he sold it. I am so happy to have my dear friend and partner in Tanger Riverhead shopping crime just up the road. So looking forward to us all sipping “something” bubbly on the sand this summer!

Jim Wolling and his lovely partner, Gail, held their annual Memorial Day brunch. This is always a food and champagne fest and nobody ever goes home hungry. I asked Tony Correri, who is the go-to for fantastic photos of all events, for some pictures but all he took was a deer sleeping in Jim’s front yard. That deer probably ate and drank too much like everyone else! Suffice to say a great time was had by all.

June is the month of weddings and graduations. I don’t have any weddings to report on but I do have some recent graduates to commend and congratulate. Congratulations to FDNY Captain Paul Brincat of Cayuga Street who graduated from CUNY John Jay with a baccalaureate in fire science. I know that Joanne is very proud of your commitment and determination and we all look forward to your next promotion. Congratulations to twins Julianna and Kai Lesser who just graduated from PS 116 in Manhattan and will enter middle school in September. They are born entrepreneurs who made over $50 selling their old books from a wagon Memorial Day weekend. I think that Kai is definitely slated to become a lawyer like his parents since I overheard him negotiating with his dad, Len, the other day. Kai, did you win your case? As for Julianna, I can see her winning a world surfing title one day. She’s been surfing with her mom, Renee, since before she could walk.

OBP now has a garden center, Neptune’s Nursery. It’s on the corner of Ocean Bay Boulevard and Bayview. Once an overgrown, unsightly area, it has been transformed into an oasis full of flowering plants, grasses and trees. The signage was done by the Park’s own “artists-in-residence,” Lisa and Rachelle. Good luck Vinny Fazio and thanks for contributing to the town’s beautification. You need to come dressed as King Neptune to our Halloween Party this year.

You know it’s going to be a good summer when you have more news to report than word count, so I’ll save some for next time. Until then: Thank you to Schooner and Flynn’s for continuing the Friday and Monday community cleanup they initiated last year. The “library” is now open at the firehouse. The hours are Saturdays from 8-10 a.m. Bring, take and share your books. Ciao!

Julianna and Kai Lesser, Memorial Day entrepreneurs.

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