2006-12-15 / Columnists

On The Beach

Celebrating Our Town,
Commentary By Beverly Baxter

BEVERLY BAXTER It seems I never tire of touting all that is wonderful about living in this seaside hamlet and the people that make it a truly special place to live. I spend most of my life during the week on the frenetic mainland that I look forward to retreating to the peace and sanctity that is Rockaway, a place I endearingly call home.

Where else can you leave the car parked and in one wistful day walk to The Belle Harbor Steak House for Brunch, then walk the boards or the beach where, if you’re lucky, you might run into and be treated to the wit of Paddy Boyle or Oliver Rooney, eager to engage you in conversation about anything from the weather to the current news of the day. It’s amazing the things you hear on the boards!

Rockaway is most charming during the holidays, where houses are adorned and lovelier than the next. We have it all here. Of course one can do their shopping online, as I have done; but then you miss out on much of the holiday spirit. There was a whole lot of shopping going on these past couple of weeks with “shopping spree” bazaars at The Belle Harbor Yacht Club, West End Temple, and St. Camillus; and just in case you still haven’t found that most unique gift for that special someone, you may want to consider giving the gift of Art from one of our many talented RAA Artists like Christina Jorge or Liz Smith Breslin at NYBeachgirl. com. 

In addition to many gift ideas, Liz has the nicest collection of Holiday cards depicting her Beach Writings in the Rockaway sand. They’re great to give and to receive! After you did some shopping, perhaps you dined at Snug Harbor where Carol Ann was your gracious server or at Tiberio where Tina gave you her warm hug or Harbor Light where Joanie gave you her own special smile or Mike and Jimmy were most accommodating at the Steakhouse, and then you treated the kids to a visit at The Little North Pole!

This event, this gift of Joe Mure’s to the community, has become a city-wide event and a must on your holiday calendar. All of the wonderful toys, nearly five thousand, were donated by NYC Community Mayor Bob Henler. On a personal note, I thank Joe and Maritza for once again asking me to play Mrs. Santa and including me in the festivities. It was invigorating to witness and hear the joyful innocent comments the children made to Santa and some of them were rather clever in taking me aside and asking Mrs. Santa to put in a good word on their behalf! I enjoyed every precious moment of this hallmark event.

There were other holiday happenings like the annual Andy Cooney Christmas Concert hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Mike and Betty Keller and their committees always do a great job. It’s nice to see Mike Foley feeling and looking so good these days. Philip McManus announced that the AOH is now forming a Youth division and those interested should contact him or any member for details.

The Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association hosted its annual Holiday Party. This year’s honorees were John Lepore who received the Man of the Year Award for his work on Tribute Park; Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Renee Freeman, Co-Presidium of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council, received the Humanitarian Award for reinvigorating this distinguished organization whose mission is to promote inter-faith relations on the peninsula. This is perhaps my most favorite of organizations as its work is most vital and relevant to who we are as a multi-faith community. The Rockaway Irish Boys, RIBS, received the Community Service Award for all their charitable works dedicated to those in need. Sean Heeran and Sean Fitzgerald accepted the Award on behalf of The RIBS. Danielle McShane of Danielle’s Florist received the Community Beautification Award for decorating our world and making it more beautiful.

Once again, the Lenihans worked so tirelessly to ensure a successful evening. Music was provided by the great Ed Deacy Band. It was nice to see neighbors like Mary and Jim Kelly, Maryann Ford, Frances Abbracciamento, Regina White of West End Realty who is the daughter of Renee Freeman, Liz and Kevin Breslin who are looking fabulously pregnant! Liz, you wear it well! The Handsome Eric Ulrich, of the Rockaway Republicans, was there with his lovely girlfriend, Yarida Moran; and it was nice to meet new neighbors like Joan and Rod Walker. Wow, can Joan dance! The occasion was also attended by our very gracious Councilman Joe Addabbo, Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer who stopped in to wish us all good tidings.

***Congratulations to my friend George Greco who was honored recently by the Xavarian Alumni Association at the Waldorf Astoria. In his acceptance speech, George, class of ‘77, remarked that he was given three minutes and warned not to “make it political” which made the throng of those in attendance laugh wildly. If you know George, then you know that this is an impossible request of him! George’s greatest joy in life is stirring the pot and making it all political!! Of his choice to attend Xavarian, he told the story of how his father told him he could go to any particular parochial school he wanted, as long as it was Xavarian!

***Happy Birthday wishes to Dr. Kathleen Sharkey!

***As we welcome in yet another New Year, let us also remember the dedicated life of Jerry Rashkis who passed away this past week. I served with Jerry on the Peninsula Hospital Center Community Advisory Council and I was always so fond of him. My condolences to the Rashkis family.

***May you have a joyous Chanukah, a blessed Christmas, and a healthy New Year!

The Rock       

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