Local entertainer Phil Maguire kept the crowd singing and dancing, performing numbers from a wide range of musical styles. He covered traditional Irish tunes, country inspired rockers like Roy Orbison and Creedence Clearwater, and even a few Motown hits. Then, he ended the set by leading all in the singing of "God Bless America." The drawing for great raffle prizes was then conducted by Patrick Maguire, chair of the First Congregational Church Board of Trustees. Over $1200 was raised from this event to benefit the church. It is believed to be the oldest, continuously celebrated community event in Rockaway. The tradition continued last weekend, as members of the First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach and their friends of all faiths joined together for the 92nd Annual St. Patrick's Tea. This festival of all things Gaelic, including the sounds of Irish music, the serving of delicious tea sandwiches and homebaked tea cakes, and the pouring out of copious amounts of tea and coffee, was first observed in March 1917, when the church was located just west of the Peninsula Library, and the U.S. was debating whether to join the "great war" in Europe.
There were lots of smiles from this group, big winners in the raffle prize drawings. At the head of the table, Sylvia Lensu, one of the church's most active, longtime members, is joined by her friends, including Roy Meserole, a businessman from the Five Towns who has been a longtime supporter of First Congregational. The original church site is today the location of the Doughboy Monument, erected in memory of the veterans of that war, and the church (with its adjacent John C. Green Chapel, where parties and meetings are held) is now at 320 Beach 94 Street, just to the east of the Cross Bay Bridge ramps.
|Recently installed church member Betty Plotkin, second from left, also enjoyed the event with Roy Ferguson and other neighbors at their table. Neighborhood volunteer Sean Cummins played a few tunes on his bagpipes, and delighted all with his handsome traditional attire. |