Baz Luhrmann, the internationally acclaimed writer, producer and director of the new 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, captivated the invitation-only audience at the Long Island premier of the film last Wednesday night at Soundview Cinemas.
“It’s touching for me to be here in Port Washington,” said Luhrmann, a native Australian. “I grew up in a small town where my father had a cinema for a short time. It’s like inviting people into your lounge room to sit in the dark and experience something together.” Luhrmann took notice of all the care that went into refurbishing the Soundview Theater, telling the guests that there really is so much buzz out there about the reopening.
Friends of the Sands Point Preserve held its fifth annual Preservers’ Celebration honoring cultural arts programs. Glitz, glamour and gold, with a nod to James Bond, was the theme of the evening. Guests passed a silver Aston Martin parked in the portico of Hempstead House -- a beautiful mansion dating back to 1917 and one of the inspirational homes for the new film The Great Gatsby.
More than 250 people arrived in Bond-inspired attire to eat, drink and dance the night away. The motif for the night came from executive director Jean-Marie Posner. “It was five years ago that the Nassau County Legislature entrusted Friends of the Sands Point Preserve to manage, operate, and to determine all of its uses,” said Posner. “We are pleased that we are able to celebrate five years and wanted to have a fun event so we figured 50 years for Bond, five years for us, why not?”
“A big factor was pension increases, but initially it was salary increases,” Callahan said. “But then we did have a major concession from our teacher’s union, which saved us $1.3 million in salary and benefits costs, so that helped us to bridge the gap that we had – that, and the health insurance issue, were the biggest factors we had to deal with.”
Herricks Community Players is busy this month performing Mame, directed by John Hayes, at Herricks Community Center. One local rising star is 9-year-old Ian Miller, a Manorhaven Elementary School 4th-grader who plays the role of young Patrick Dennis. Jacob Glickman plays the adult Patrick Dennis, and Mame herself, the leading role, is played by Rachel Zampino who along with her husband has been a Port resident for twenty years and raised two daughters here -- both Schreiber graduates.
“I used to perform with the Port Singers,” said Zampino. “After they disbanded, a few of us migrated over to the wonderful Herricks Community Players.” Penny Payne, one of the costume designers and choreographers, is also a long-time Port resident.
“Early Sunday mornings, I remember my grandmother and my mother making those meatballs in the red sauce — they called it Sunday sauce. By the end of the day, there would be hardly any meatballs left in the pan because nobody in the family could stop eating them,” recalls one of La Parma on the Bay’s owners, Tony Gralto. He and partner Dominick Gregorio, in business since 1984, both have ancestry from southern Italy, so Mother’s Day is a fond occasion for them to watch other local families enjoying the family-style meals they grew up on.
Cold and hot antipasto, rigatoni a la vodka made with a touch of crème and a little prosciutto, steak pizzaiola in a red sauce with mushrooms and peppers, chicken and veal parmesan, lasagna — all popular favorites among the crowds that fill up the room fast at this Italian Ristorante. “For appetizers, people love our hot antipasto that consists of baked clams, fried calamari, stuffed mushrooms, and shrimp oregonata; it feeds four,” said Jerald Gralto, manager and son of owner Tony Gralto.
Well wishers from the police department, neighboring police districts and elected officials attended the very moving ceremony for Port Washington Police Chief William Kilfoil on April 29, marking his last day on the job.
Kilfoil’s 20 year tenure as police chief is the longest in the department’s history. The ceremony concluded a 39-year career with the district. In his welcoming remarks, Acting Chief James Salerno called Kilfoil an icon who taught him that “it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
What does Port Washington and PortFest have in common? Damon Gersh – the founder of HEARTS , a local, community organization whose mission for the past couple years has been to promote and enrich the arts in Port Washington and its’ public schools. PortFest is the brainchild of Gersh’s vision, which has hundreds of residents gearing up for the big day for its second consecutive year. The family event, free of charge, will hit the ground running on Sunday, May 11 from 11am-5pm on Schreiber High School’s south ball field directly behind the Weber track.
“Ever since I moved to Port, I fell in love with the town,” admits Gersh, a Bayside, Queens native. “I think it’s the greatest community I’ve ever lived in – a very unique place.” By day, Gersh is running his emergency property damage restoration company. By night, he’s a musician playing in a local band called “Rock Steady.” And how that got started is a whole different story.
Jordan Desner promised a unique movie going experience. He and his partner, wife Dara Desner, have created a medieval themed movie theater to house a state-of-the-art, fully digitalized facility with six screens, new leather rocking seats, and an expanded concession stand.
The official opening was Friday, April 26. There was a pre-opening party for film distributors on April 25, which was also attended by local elected officials. When asked how she felt just 24 hours before the grand opening, with workmen still banging and drilling, Dara Desner said, “The fact that we accomplished this renovation in just five weeks is incredible. We were determined and we did it.”
More than 200 volunteers appeared on Main Street for the fourth annual “Clean and Green Main Street” sponsored by the Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington and the Town of North Hempstead. Among the enthusiastic crews were students from Port schools, members of the Key Club, teachers, mitzvah project leaders, Boy and Girl Scouts, Brownies, church groups, local officials and families. Besides the removal of litter, other goals of the day were also to turn soil, weed, plant, mulch, and sweep. This not only made Main Street look cleaner, but it improved Manhasset Bay by preventing further debris from washing into the drains.
Local businesses were on hand to help out during the event. Freitas Landscaping supported by securing plant and mulch. Sweet Comfort Bakery donated the coffee and morning treats. Wit and Whim also donated organic treats and eco bracelets.
Four years after a fence went up around the one and a quarter acre parcel of land known as Alvan Petrus Park, community residents remain frustrated at the slow pace of efforts to restore the park.
According to Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, who has advocated for the park restoration since her election in 2011, the project won’t begin until the end of the year, at the earliest.
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