By Bob Levine
On Saturday July 4, 2015, the 40th Invasion began in the Grove, with a gathering of hundreds of people lined-up on the walks. Top Of the Bay, Cherry’s and Island Breeze took advantage of their fabulous locations and rented tables to those who wanted to be up close. It was a real party with food and drinks before the actual Invasion began. Standing on the deck of the Island Breeze interviewing many Invaders was the incomparable Sybil Bruncheon in her leopard outfit, with a mike in hand and keeping the mood of the day moving at a fast pace. New York City’s Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band played five songs while marching through town as they were boarding the first boat to the Pines. Also on the boat were Panzi and Lynn Hutton, two of the three surviving members of the original 15 who invaded the Pines on July 11, 1976. Yours truly, Rose Levine, the other surviving member, greeted the boat in the Pines this time around.
Two boatloads of crossed-dressed Invaders made it to the Pines for another historical day. After returning back to the Grove later in the afternoon it began to rain, but the party did not stop at The Ice Palace or Cherry’s, where they were very generous to all in costume, and gave each person a complimentary drink. The fun continued for a few more hours, before we went home to remove the make up, heels and our girdles. Read my Pines column for more information about the Invasion from the Pines side of the festivities.
Four members of the Marching Band rented a house in the Grove for the entire week after the Invasion. Shawn Harris, Brian Luke, Christian Smythe and David Koren had a fantastic time dining at Top of the Bay, Island Breeze and the Sand Castle. They also brunched at Floyds and sang at Sand Castle piano bar with Dan Daly. Dan had quite a crowd with Bruce Michael Gelbert, Mike Schaefer, Lavinia Draper, Jill Conklin, and myself some of the many of the open mic singers.
Roland Michely and Joe Anania had their “Invasion regular” guest Mike Albers from Boston. Once a year he looks forward to dressing up as the Cupcake Fairy. Their other guest was Richard Hoetzel, who just loves the beach. We had visitors Ralph and Gloria Perna from Dunewood, who arrived in the Grove and docked their boat at Roseland. They went into the very fray of the Invasion. It was like being in Rio De Janeiro during Mardi Gras. Eric Tindall had is sister, Deborah, as his guest from Maryland. Welcome back to the Grove: John Huger and Bryan Goodposter from Cincinnati, celebrating their 8th anniversary. They certainly enjoyed the Invasion.
Last Wednesday was like a reunion of seeing friends old and new at Top of the Bay, including local residents CeeJay Rosen and Peg Ryan, with their guests, Rolande Cicurel, Annie, Rikki, Joyce Yaeger, Jack Dowling, Jamie Brickhouse, Hedda Lettuce, Dan Clancy, Charlie Isola, as well as Michael and myself.
Troy Files and Brian Clark made an emergency trip to Orlando to attend a memorial service for Troy’s Aunt Jean. They will back very soon. Ellen Biggers and her partner, Martha Pitkin, had Ellen’s brothers, John and Rob, as their guests from upstate New York.
Congratulations to Mel Rock and Don Rabb, a close friend threw a wedding party as a gift in their honor. At least 40 people were at Mel and Don’s home to enjoy the festivities. Mel and Don were also the hosts for the cocktail party given by the Cherry Grove Garden Club, after the garden tour was a great success on July 5. At least 100 people attended.
Celebrity sightings in the Grove include Grammy Award-winner for “Love Will Keep Us Together,” as well as songwriter of “Laughter in The Rain” and “Bad Blood,” singer-songwriter himself Neil Sedaka, spending the week and enjoying himself around town with his host, Jackie Presto. Broadway pianist, composer, cabaret star, and performer Fred Barton was also in town. Also welcome Cherry Grove’s one and only Connie (Anthony Cardinalli) Frances, who is back in town. She hasn’t been here for two years.
“Dining with The Divas” at Cherry’s, introduced two new stars, JoJo Gerard and Vita Summers, who were well received by the audience of Cherry Grove regulars: Valerie, Evelyn, Bobby, Victor, Jan, Edrie, Richard Bell, Johnnie Pool, Hiram, Gay, Julie, Matthew George, Jack Roullo, Mike Fisher, Ginger Snap. In addition Bobbie and Doreen were also there celebrating Bobbie’s birthday. Vinnie, Susan Pepe and Sara Jeffries from Pines Pizza enjoyed the show too.
Laura and Chris from Ocean Beach paid a visit and joined me for whirlwind tour of the nightlife in the Grove. Welcome back to Cherry Grove Sonny and Kate, who are the guests of Diane Romano and Patricia Goeff.
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Also July 18, Cherry Grove’s EMS fundraiser Straight From The Heart. This production was conceived by Ken Osman and will feature an all-star Cherry Grove cast. The show begins at 9 p.m., at the Community House Donation: $20.
July 25 and 26: The Archive Show at the Community House will once again be hosted by The Arts Project of Cherry Grove, beginning at 11 a.m. This will be the biggest show to date held in the auditorium. It will include works by James Belzer, George Lyter, Sue Kravitz, JoJo Gerard, Lorraine Michels plus old photos and memorabilia from the collection of Mary and Bill Ronin that include vintage film clips, slide shows, trophy’s, old house signs, and more.
SAVE THE DATE: AUG. 8. Join photographer and author Lorraine Michels and Panzi for a sale and book signing of the soon to be released “The Invasion of the Pines: 40 years of Fun, Frolic, and Fantasy 1976-2015.” It will be available at Fire Island Goods. She has put together a 208-page book researching and interviewing people in the Grove. The book’s sale price is $100, a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Arts Project of Cherry Grove.
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