Ocean Bay Park

By Barbara Placilla

I think if August had a song it could be “We Are Family.”  If you were born after 1979, you may not remember this song written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers. It was sung by Sister Sledge. Or you may know of it from one of the best movies ever, “The Birdcage.”  Regardless, it exemplifies what it’s like to live in Ocean Bay Park. These past weeks it seems that everyone has family members coming for a visit before summer comes to an end. I also realized that in Ocean Bay Park, you don’t have to be related to be considered family because the welcome mat is always out regardless of who you are or where you’re from.

Yusi Gurrera and the bicycle built for eight.

The other day, I came home to find a handwritten note under my door. It was from Rosemary Muench who wrote to tell me that she is up from Florida to enjoy her children, “grands” and gardening. They have spent their time paddle boarding, surfing, playing Bingo for a bike and taking in Harrison Jaffe’s weekly guitar gig on Wednesday night.

Speaking of all things Jaffe, the Ontario Street “extended beach family” gathered on the beach to celebrate Lisa and Steven’s crystal anniversary (look it up and you’ll know how long they’ve been married, although they’ve been together 25 years) and Harrison’s 14th birthday. Lisa’s brother, Richard, was visiting from Florida. I love the multi-generational vibe in our town. My husband and I may be the oldest members of this extended family, but who cares? In OBP, age is pretty insignificant and when you’re on the beach and the sun is shining that’s all that matters. Eddie Micallef, whose dune house has been moved back to the other side of Traffic, was fresh from playing in the 13th Annual Gurian-Gardner Over-Under Game. The game is played annually in Seaview on Newman Field to honor the memory of Doug Gurian and Doug Gardner who lost their lives in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on 9/11. The game, which pits the older generation versus the younger generation, was won by the “unders.”  OBP was well represented by Joe Gurrera and Ralph Buckley, among others. Joe “Tag” if I omitted you, I apologize.

The Supples hosted a Nettles Island Family Reunion dinner party. All the Nettles Island regulars were there. Since it was “family only” if you hadn’t visited or stayed on Nettles Island, you were not invited! It was a good opportunity to wish Ric Andersen a happy birthday as well. Even though Pat swore she was not hosting anyone else this summer, the following week she had a family day with four generations of McCullochs represented.

My brother, Stephen Lott, and his wife, Diane, came from City Island to spend several days with us. They had no trouble fitting in, as there are plenty of fellow boaters and fishing fanatics to hang out with. It was obvious that Stephen and Tommy “Tuna” Neal had a lot in common as they discussed their love of fishing and golf at Friday night Happy Hour. Tom’s wife, Pam Birnbaum, and I wondered if this was the start of a “Bromance.”

Diane Sweeney’s three daughters, all arrived to spend the week so, we have the next verse of “We Are Family,” “I’ve got all my sisters with me,” covered. Over on Erie, Joyce and George Greenberger helped celebrate the birthday of their godson, Ed Persau, along with his children, Sara and Michael, his sister, Nancy, and their mother, Diane. Melissa Dodeci cooked, I baked the cake and I trust a good time was had by all!

Everywhere I went I met someone who had family members in tow. While walking down the road, I got the photo op I have been looking for all summer. A yellow bicycle built for four is rented out in town. As I was turning the corner, it came pedaling down past me. Yusi Gurrera was behind the wheel with her three grandsons, Rocco, Michael and Matthew, their friends Preston, Evan and Emma, and her friend, Sandi Murzin. So the bicycle built for four became a bicycle built for eight!

Not all family news is happy, unfortunately, and the community was sad to learn of the passing of Sonny Fritz, a resident of OBP since 1963. Sonny passed away peacefully in her sleep on Aug.10, at the age of 91. Her family, Anne, Karen, Michele and Matthew, said that they were lucky enough to have shared her last hours laughing and remembering good times – especially the times shared on Fire Island – a place Sonny called “magical.” Sonny could be seen walking to the Seaview Market on Sunday mornings to purchase The New York Times, which I have been told she read in its entirety. She had a deep love for Fire Island and Ocean Bay Park.

Mid-August brings that gorgeous purple vitex, and with it a trifecta of family related events: the Warrior Appreciation Day in Ocean Beach to benefit our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the 5K Run for Rose to benefit brain cancer research and the Ocean Bay Park Community Fair.

For over 40 years, OBP homeowners and renters have all come together annually as a family for what was formerly known as The Gourmet Fair. This year, we’ve renamed it the OBP Community Fair to reflect the evolving direction that our town has taken. We are focusing the emphasis on community but keeping the tradition of great food, great goods and services for auction and a guaranteed great time. Please join us on Saturday, Aug. 19 for the Community Fair. The proceeds of this event benefit the Ocean Bay Park Association and help defray expenses not covered by Brookhaven Town such as dune protection, sweeping the walks, cleaning the beach, Sunday morning beach and Bayview sanitation pick-ups as well as capital improvements and year-round community representation through our community manager.

I hope to see you around the Park. Remember, here in OPB “We Are Family!”

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