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Have Vows – Will Travel

Hicksville’s Rev. Rudy takes romance on the road

Time was when a church wedding was the only thing to do, but times have changed and now saying “I do” offers a palette as rich as the imagination.

Enter Rudy Tufaro, a minister in the nondenominational Universal Life Church. In an interview at the Hicksville Starbucks on a recent Friday afternoon, the 54-year-old reverend with a background in business spoke with the peaceful demeanor of a man who has found his calling.

In fact, Starbucks has figured into his ministry. He said he often meets prospective brides at Starbucks, “neutral territory,” he explained, that’s public and safe yet warm and conducive to personal conversations such as ones between an engaged couple and a prospective officiant.

One Labor Day weekend, he even performed a wedding at a Starbucks in Saratoga Springs. Months later the couple followed that ceremony with one for family and friends at Danforth’s in Port Jefferson.

“He genuinely cares,” said Katie Fournier, a preschool teacher in Astoria where she lives. Most of her family is from Long Island, she said in a telephone interview, so she decided to have her wedding here and found Rev. Rudy on wedding.com. Last April, she married her husband Marc before 140 guests at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon.

Her praise for Rev. Rudy, a widower himself— “wonderful, personable, kind, friendly and nice”—was echoed by two other newlyweds in telephone interviews.

Anna Leonard, who runs the e-commerce jewelry site zenaluna.com, married her husband John last July on the rooftop garden at Il Bacco Restaurant in Little Neck. Anna, who lives in Bethpage, was walked down the aisle by her brother. Her dad is deceased, as are her husband’s parents, and she is still moved by the way Rev. Rudy “honored them.” He refers to such elements of the ceremony as “remembrances.” They can involve a candle lighting, or specially chosen spoken words and may also include living family members or friends who are prevented by distance from attending the ceremony.

“I really do believe in him,” said Anna Leonard, underscoring how he works to make each ceremony personal.

Susan Ciancioso, who lives with her husband Anthony in Franklin Square, was married by Rev. Rudy last April at The Westbury Manor.  Her desire for a “nonreligious ceremony” echoed one of Rev. Rudy’s reasons for the popularity of nondenominational weddings. “People are falling away from organized religion,” he said. Yet this does not mean they are falling away from spirituality. Far from it.”

Katie Fournier noted she and her husband aren’t church-goers. Yet her soft voice spoke of the reverence she holds for her wedding day. She and her husband first met Rev. Rudy, a Hicksville resident, at a Starbucks in Astoria. Within days, she said, he wrote their ceremony, and their wedding day was “exactly how we wanted it to be.”

When The Big Day comes, Rev. Rudy said, “It is all about the couple.  Arriving early, he meets with everyone involved and goes over the ceremony. “I always go see the bride and calm them down. Some brides are very nervous.”  

He recalled one bride, mid-ceremony, suddenly looking to the left, then to the right, and his feeling of concern for her. Questioning her later, he said she told him, it only dawned on her then and there that “everyone was looking at her.”

In the four years he’s been officiating, Rev. Rudy says he’s performed more than 100 weddings in venues on Long Island’s North Fork, Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, the boat house in Central Park and a backyard in Levittown, for a couple, he said, who “didn’t want the glitz of a catering hall.” Last summer, he performed a wedding by the ocean in Long Beach. He laughed, recalling how the bride and groom “jumped in the water after they said ‘I do.’”

While simple ceremonies can cost several hundred dollars, he said, many variables go into the price. Length of the service, its complexity, preparation time and travel involved are all factors. And some details are on his website, www. marriedbyrudy.com. “The ceremony,” he said he tells each bride, “should be as unique as your gown.”

He said plans to keep marrying couples for a very long time.

“I’m a romantic,” he said, smiling.

News

Two brothers achieve the American dream

with their barbershop

Twenty-one years ago, brothers Solomon (“Sal”) and Albert (“Al”) Basanelov of eastern Uzbekistan joined some four dozen relatives from their small city of Fergana and traveled more than 9,000 miles west to America, where they sought escape from the tightly controlled and repressive regime that marked the former Soviet state.

In 1993, the brothers established themselves in Rego Park in Queens and began seeking out careers where they could live what they saw as the American dream—ownership of their own business and the freedom to pursue their own lives and fortunes. After working for a short while caring for patients in a Queens nursing home and motivated by two cousins, Al and Sal went to a New York City barber college and after finishing the course, worked as employees for their cousins who owned barber shops in Franklin Square. Eventually, they decided to open their own shop—Al and Sal’s Barber Shop—in a small shopping strip on Stewart Avenue in Hicksville.

Hicksville’s interim School Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso gave a review of the district’s recently completed capital projects and facilities updates at Nov. 19’s board of education meeting. Most of the projects were completed over the summer in each of the district’s schools.

“Thanks to Director of Facilities and Operations, Dave Bell and his staff, we are structurally sound,” said Bonuso. “So much of what we do is in-house which saves the district money and our staff makes the facilities as special as the students they serve.”


Sports

For the past 11 months, Hicksville’s Marlo Signoracci has been training for IRONMAN, one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there. The triathlon includes a swim, bike and run portion. Signoracci recently traveled down to Florida to compete in IRONMAN Florida. Here’s a look at her experience.

Nov. 1, 2014 will be a day in my life I will never forget and will carry with me forever. It truly was the celebration of the last 11 months of training.

The fall athletic season seemed to move quickly, but all teams had outstanding seasons with all teams reaching the playoffs except for two who had their best season in many years.

In addition to athletic acheivements, all of the varsity programs at Hicksville High School also participated in raising more than $4,000 for several charities this past fall: pediatric cancer, breast cancer awareness and cystic fibrosis.


Calendar

Model Railroad Open House

November 28-30

Popcorn Balls

November 30

Craft Fair

November 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com