Ocean Bay Park

by FIN |

By Barbara Gaby Placilla

Mallory Vannoni with Keith Vella of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighter Association.

I just love the color of August. It’s predominantly purple and orange – the purple of the vitex and the orange trumpet vines that echo the Monarch butterflies, which are back on Fire Island. It’s been wonderful to see them out in all their orange glory. So when I learned that the Seaview “Butterfly Lady,” aka Margaret Hofbeck, had an exhibit, “Birth of the Beautiful Butterflies” at the Ocean Beach Historical Society, I made sure to stop by and learn more about how we can help and protect these magnificent creatures. It doesn’t take much effort to provide a nesting place for the butterflies and the reward of cultivating butterfly friendly plants is significant. And when you do decide to plant a butterfly garden don’t be surprised how captivating it can be to track the butterfly’s lifecycle.

The appearance of the butterflies is just one signal that the summer of 2019 is rapidly coming to an end. The days are getting shorter and we all seem to be packing in as much as we can before Labor Day signals the start of the “off season.” There’s a steady stream of events, parties and fundraisers to attend. The sunsets come sooner and are sometimes more intense. So in this spirit, it seems like everyone in Ocean Bay Park has visitors or is expecting visitors in the next few weeks.

Angelo Sakonas’ extended family gathered at his home on Ocean Bay Boulevard for the annual visit from California of his stepson, Cory Hewitt, and his wife, Sarah, with their children, Dylan and Lucia, aka LuLu. They were joined by Cory’s sister and her family, OBP regulars, Kelly, husband, Frank Borges, and their children, Nicholas and Sophia. Everyone had a great time celebrating Sophia’s recent high school graduation. Sophia will start classes at LIU in a few weeks. Later on that week their Hoffman cousins, Cody, who happens to be a dead ringer for singer Nick Jonas, and his brother, Max, joined the group; they stayed with Eddie Micallef. Then their other Hewitt cousins, Mike, Marietta and their children, Marlo and Marley, flew in from their home on the Spanish island of Palma de Mallorca. Not only did we have Nick Jonas on the beach, we had the Duchess of Sussex, since Marietta Hewitt could pass for Meghan Markle! It wasn’t easy getting this bunch all together for a group photo so if I inadvertently left anyone out, it will have to wait until next year.

Claire O’Neill made a surprise appearance at the Auxiliary annual theme party, “Escape to Fire Islandville” and stayed with Pat and Mike Supple.

Also off to college in September is Pat and Lanny Vannoni’s granddaughter, Mallory Vannoni. Mallory is attending St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue on multiple scholarships. She plans to become a high school English teacher. The Suffolk County Volunteer Firemen’s Association awarded her a grant for the essay she wrote on the values of volunteerism, which was presented by SC’s Keith Vella in the firehouse. Being a Vannoni, Mallory grew up in a family that has a long tradition of service to the Ocean Bay Park community going back to the establishment of the Ocean Bay Park Fire Department and Ocean Bay Park FD Auxiliary.

The next week, Steve and I did the micro family reunion and hosted my niece, Christine Healey Paul, and her husband, Mike, along with their children, Christian and Julia, ages 6 and 4 years old. I was taken aback when Julia asked, “Aunt Barbara, what time does the beach close?” When I told her that it doesn’t, that it’s always there and “open,” even at night, I thought how fortunate we are to be able to walk up the road and step on our beach any time of day or night. I had a surprise visitor when Chrissy Hoyler, who used to live on Superior Street and for many years worked for Jim Betts at Maguire’s in OB, stopped by with her cute little Maltese dog, Scout. Chrissy was part of the group that worked on Fire Island in the summer and in Vail, Colorado, during the winter, which is nice work if you can get it!

Rachelle King is back from a three-week jaunt through Greece, which is one of my favorite countries to visit. I haven’t gotten a complete debriefing from her yet, but the note she sent me said that she loved Crete and that it was her favorite Greek island. She said the people were among the kindest, genuine and friendliest she has encountered in any of her travels and she will definitely go back. The driving there is crazy though with the scariest roads she’s ever been on. Sounds like Ocean Bay Park – the people are the best and dodging the golf carts, bikes and scooters can be just as harrowing as driving in the Greek islands – trust me, I’ve been there, done that, too!

Happy Birthday to both Clem Lagerman and Eileen Murray. They celebrated their combined 150th birthday with a party given by Clem’s life partner and Eileen’s lifelong friend Maryanne Reuther. And Happy 16th Birthday, Harrison Jaffe. It seems like only yesterday we were at your Bar Mitzvah.

Since there is so much to report, I will provide a recap of the Ocean Bay Park Community Fair in my next and final column for 2019. In the interim, THANK YOU to all those who worked, contributed and attended this community event. We could not have done it without your support. More to come!

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