By Barbara Gaby Placilla
No matter how long it’s been since the last column, it’s easy to pick up where we left off in Ocean Bay Park. Labor Day, the end of summer 2018 has come and gone. The day that all the locals wait for, Tumbleweed Tuesday, is the beginning of the off-season for us. Those of us who live here year round then go back to whatever normal is on a barrier beach island. We have tried our best to look after our beloved town in your absence. And now the cycle repeats itself. We are on the cusp of summer 2019, so here’s a brief recap of what happened while you were gone.
The off-season started with the first annual pumpkin carving hosted by the Fazio’s at “Neptune’s Garden.” At first I was skeptical that there would be a good turnout, but there was so much interest, we had to actually reserve our pumpkins in advance. There was wine and cheese and lots of gourmet goodies donated by Matty’s Market from Ocean Beach. The pumpkin carving was a great prelude to the annual Ocean Bay Park Association Halloween Party. As usual, Steven Jaffe played Pied Piper/Mary Poppins and trekked through the town with kids in tow trick-or-treating at the houses that had registered in advance. The trick-or-treating was followed by a potluck dinner. It’s so great to see how this party has grown as the years have gone by and more importantly the number of children is increasing, too.
The first week in December brings another Ocean Bay Park tradition – the annual Christmas reunion formerly called The Schooner “Re’uner.” This brunch started as a way for the groupers to get together in between seasons, and was originally organized by the Harris-Byrnes family. Robbie has now passed the baton to Lisa McNamee, who came through with a great new venue near Penn Station. An added bonus was that it was also SantaCon and the sight of hundreds of Santas could not help but put you into the holiday spirit.
Since most of us are loathe to leave the beach in the summer we tend to vacation in the off-season. While many take the snowbird route and fly south, some of us go elsewhere. This year we took the advice of OBP’s own Peter Greenberg, aka The Travel Detective, and flew to Rome on Christmas Day, where we met my sister and brother-in-law, Patti and Ray Loffredo, from Venice, Florida. We spent the next two weeks traveling between Italy and Spain with a day in Algiers. Steve and I were not the only ones who chose Europe. Aggie McShea, along with Katie Dineen and Geri Sabiston, took a 10-day tour of France. They visited Normandy, Loire and Paris. Aggie told me that the food, the pastry, the bread were all fantastic, however in her words the “exciting?” part of the trip was getting back to JFK and realizing that her passport had fallen out of her backpack on the plane. What saved the day for her was her MTA EasyPay senior citizen card since it was the only ID she had with her picture on it!
Joan and JD DeSerio did not have time to vacation since they were busy planning and preparing for their daughter Alana’s wedding to Stephanie Volinsky. The wedding took place on April 15, in Albany, New York. Representing Ocean Bay Park were Diane Sweeney and Ken Klein, Patti Loesch, Tom and Pam Neal and Elise and Ralph Pleasec. Alana was a truly stunning bride and Joan did not disappoint either! Only Joan DeSerio can pull off pink satin stilettos with ostrich feather trim. I am daring her to wear them to Happy Hour one of these Fridays. It seems like only yesterday that both Janice McBride and I were taking turns bringing Alana into the ocean and/or rescuing her from it! I had the knee surgery to prove it. Best of luck to you Alana and Stephanie, may you have many happy years together and make your own Fire Island memories as well.
April was really a special month for us as Steve and I were able to witness the promotion of our dear friend Paul Brincat to FDNY Battalion Chief. Paul is also a member of the Ocean Bay Park Volunteer FD and to my knowledge is now the highest ranking professional firefighter on all of Fire Island. OBP is fortunate to have his experience and expertise. We were so honored to be able to attend the ceremony and then to celebrate with Paul and Joanne and his family. Way to go, Paul, we all knew that studying and hard work would pay off. Christopher, if you are reading this, I hope you are next.
I purposely did not start with the most obvious update from last year and that is “the beach project.” When many of you closed up your homes and left the island, the houses that I referred to as the Moai in my last column of 2018 were still standing. While you were away, the FIMI project reached Ocean Bay Park and the houses south of Traffic on the dune were demolished. They were taken down literally board-by-board. It was sad to watch but I always try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. I truly hope that when the new dunes are built that this sacrifice will not have been for naught. It is still taking me a while to get used to the sight of our new normal and you probably will, too.
The reality is that the ocean was here before any of us and it will still be here when we are gone. In the interim it is our responsibility to do what we must to protect this precious strip of sand so that future generations can know just how special life is on our barrier beach island.
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