Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
We give a special thank you and hats off to Matthew Gorton, Queens Director of the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit, for responding so quickly after one phone call. He immediately got on the Department of Buildings and HPD to close up the Sunset Diner, a major accident waiting to happen. It was taken care of on Monday, February 26. You are truly a man of your word. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
On Sunday, February 24 we attended an installation of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps. It was great to be in attendance with newly elected State Senator Shirley Huntley, who made a commitment during her campaign to provide funding for the BCVFD. She will be giving them a member's item grant. She is class personified. Huntley is soft spoken and gentle, but a tough no nonsense senator when she needs to be. She is a great breath of fresh air. Congratulations to all the elected officers of the BCVFD.
St. Patrick's Day is always celebrated early in the Rockaways on the first Saturday of March. This year the great founder of the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade, James Conway Sullivan, shined down from heaven and gave us the sunshine and 60-degree weather. We know he was definitely smiling because this was the biggest parade so far. We are the second biggest St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC. We start with a mass for peace and justice at St. Francis de Sales and proceed for our annual buffet, which was held at the Knights of Columbus this year. The food and service was superb as usual.
This year's Grand Marshal was Kevin Kelly, Business Agent of Local 46 Metallic Lathers Union. Kevin could be considered a saint, always there, always available, fighting for labor and their rights as well as always being very charitable. In 2005, with the possibility of the closing of St. Stans Bishop and Martyr School in Ozone Park, Kevin responded to my call to help Sister Frances, the principal, with a number of cosmetic issues for the school. He brought in the Painters Union to paint, Local 580 Iron Workers to straighten out the wrought iron fence and provided money to purchase all the supplies and paint needed. Need I say he was one of the best choices to be grand marshal and lead the parade.
After the official ribbon cutting by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Kevin Kelly, the parade kicked off with Deputy Grand Marshals Audrey Pheffer, who is always there to help our community and State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith, who is always there to help us with our needs. Malcolm is the best. He gave me a new title, Rockaway Director for Senator Malcolm Smith's 14th Senate District. He sure knows how to make a guy feel great. We love you Malcolm.
The Honorary Grand Marshal Edward Ford, President of Local 30 International Union of Operating Engineers, is another outstanding labor leader who fights for the working people. Some of the other Deputy Grand Marshals were Matthew Gorton, who we spoke about earlier; Martin Feeney, from the Broad Channel Athletic Club, who loves helping all the children all the time; Kelly Feeney who is Assistant Vice president and Manager of the Rockaway branch of the Queens County Savings Bank; Ellen Peppard Esq., who is the Parade Committee attorney and is always kind and helpful; Warren Scullin, who is super active in the ancient Order of Hibernians; and my great friend Joseph McGoorty, a Sanitation worker who is always devoted to doing the right thing in our community. John Kimball, owner of Kimball Construction, has always made himself available for the betterment of the Rockaway community. As Gael of the Year, Congressman Joseph Crowley, who is also Queens County Democratic Leader, is a great man and an outstanding individual who makes us proud that we are Democrats.
Special thanks to Parade Committee President Michael Benn for a fine job. A personal thanks gratitude to Prof. Ed Raasch of the Knights of Columbus for driving us in his beautiful two seat BMW convertible. You are a gentleman, a scholar and a great friend. Your love for Rockaway showed on this special day, Thanks a million.
A billion thanks to Waldbaum's Manager, Mike Andracchi, for donating cases and cases of soda for our great St. Patrick's Day Parade. Remember folks, when you shop at Waldbaum's to stop and thank Mike.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great friend and big supporter, Rockaway's own John Flaherty. John was a great believer in making a difference in the Rockaways. His love and devotion to helping the children of the Special Olympics at St. Camillus as well as helping the local soup kitchen by picking up bagels and other food for those who needed it. John was a kind, loving, selfless individual who put others first and put himself last. John passed away after trying to beat cancer. We are of the belief God needed a special angel to lead our Rockaway St. Patrick's Day parade in heaven. He is definitely a man who definitely earned his wings and has a special place in God's kingdom. My deepest sympathy to his lovely wife Helene and his children. Always remember my door and heart will always be open to you. May God bless and keep you.
Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday March 17.
We leave Rockaway at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. In addition, the first $50 of your losses will be returned in a check.