A week of Night in Venice events in Ocean City

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Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

A week of celebration kicked off when 12 contestants competing for the title of Miss Night in Venice turned in money they collected for local charities the past six weeks.

Tricia Ciliberto was on hand to thank the girls and wish them well when she presented each one with Ocean City Home Bank beach towels. Olivia Clarke forgot to wear her Miss Night in Venice T-shirt, but covered up for it nicely. Nicole Bachich couldn’t find a parking space so she missed being in the photo.

On Tuesday evening, contestants paraded down the boardwalk on the back of convertibles wearing evening gowns. When contestants arrived at the Moorlyn Theatre for the crowning, Mark Soifer, Jane French and Roy Gillian collected the magnetic signs from each convertible while Alice Wolf escorted the girls into the theater. Miss Night in Venice 2013 Courtney Pellegrino was on hand to crown her successor and when the tag on her royal blue beaded gown was showing, Jeanne Jackson came to her rescue with a tiny pair of scissors from her purse. I waved to Beth and Charlie Bowman sitting in the front row.

Pat Gillian served as host of the festivities and, after introducing contestants, announced they collected over $50,000 for the Ocean City Food Cupboard, Ocean City High School After Prom, Sunshine Foundation and HERO Campaign. After Alexa Rosen was crowned Miss Night in Venice 2014, she posed for pictures with her court. You can bet this columnist will never be asked to place the sash on a reigning queen again after putting it on upside down and backwards.

I spotted Anne and Doug Beckert snapping pictures of their daughter, Charity, who was third runner-up. I enjoyed catching up with Muriel and Bill Elliott on hand to accept the check for The HERO Campaign.

The Miss Night in Venice committee, contestants and their parents were invited to stay for the evening’s performance of “Ocean City – the Musical,” an original celebration of what makes Ocean City “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” After the show, the cast was in the lobby to meet and greet guests where Rick Carlson, President of the Tabernacle, introduced me to his wife, Pat, who told me she was at our United Methodist Women’s luncheon and fashion show.

Rain showers Saturday afternoon gave way to bright sunshine as boats lined up for the Night in Venice boat parade and crowds flocked to parties at homes along the bay. With parking at a premium and practically non-existent, the Finnegans tried parking at a Tennessee Avenue lot where valet parking was offered with shuttles to the Kerbeck’s party. We were turned away, but took a chance and got a coveted space in Pat and Roy Gillian’s driveway.

With a Miss Night in Venice theme, Pat Gillian, co-chairwoman of the pageant, sported a tiara as did all committee members except co-chairman Sam Capizzi. Roy Gillian took a rare Saturday night off from his gig playing the piano at the Greate Bay Country Club to enjoy the party with old friends. I stopped to tell Millie Wheaton and Ray Knorr our SUV was parked behind their car, so if they needed to leave early, to let us know. Joan Walker and Joan and Jim Andrews had been party hopping, but admitted this was their last stop as all were within walking distance of their homes.

My granddaughter, Sara, has been attending Night in Venice parties since she was a baby, so she enjoyed showing off this special event to her girlfriend, Haley Leonhauser, who was attending her first. Both girls wore long black and white outfits they got while shopping on Asbury Avenue Saturday morning. Pat’s granddaughter, Tricia DeFelice, entertained her classmate from Adrian College and also helped her grandmother with hostess duties. I enjoyed chatting with Tip and Phyllis DiDonato, who have operated DiDonato’s bowling in Hammonton for 62 years. Tip was in the Marines from ’52 to ’54 during the Korean War. Tip and Phyllis divide their time between their homes in Ocean City and Hammonton. Myra and Bill Meis and Josephine and Sam Capizzi joked about being the oldest people at the party as they sat back and enjoyed another parade.

Linda Herbert has been busy as vice chairwoman of the Ocean City Pops’ summer luncheon on Aug. 20 at Greate Bay Country Club. Ralph Amadie told me he was the head staging electrician at the Philadelphia Academy of Music until he retired in 2002. I enjoyed catching up with Mary Mazzarella, who is delighted to be back Ocean City after being a resident of Florida for the past 30 years. I chatted with Peggy Lloyd and Phyllis and Ken Hoover as we filled our platters, then headed out on the deck to eat before the parade arrived. My husband, Jim, was engrossed in a serious conversation with Don Doll and Paul Batastini until I interrupted and told them to go inside and get their dinner.

When Alice Wolf arrived with her daughter, Erica Parker, and granddaughters, 3-year-old Ashley, and 4-month-old Charlotte Rose, everyone wanted to hold the baby while precocious Ashley entertained, following in her mother’s footsteps as a dancer. Sisters Sally Hamilton, Patti Steelman, DeeDee Essington and Mary Adams were lined up along the deck to watch the parade as the boats made their way into our lagoon. Jim Hamilton didn’t seem to mind being the lone man with these ladies.

Mabel Kloos sported a black and white boa with her long black and white print dress as she and husband John made their way out on the dock to get a better view of the parade. Miss Night in Venice Alexa Rosen and her 11-member court waved and called out to the Miss Night in Venice committee, Pat Gillian, Maryann Jones, Sue Doll, Maribeth Neall, Alice Wolf and this columnist, standing behind the large “Congratulations Miss Night in Venice Contestants” sign along the deck.

I finally sat down with my husband, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Dinieth, to watch the parade while my son, John, drove Sara and Haley to the bardwalk to go on the rides at Wonderland. John got back in time to catch the end of the parade and to see some of the lighted boats when they passed by.

After the parade, while Tammy DeFelice was helping her mom clean up, she told me she had to be in Delaware Sunday by 10 a.m. to watch several of her students in a figure skating competition. After hosting another Night in Venice party, Pat and Roy were planning a big family dinner party Sunday as Pat’s son, Mike Essington, and his family are visiting from Miami.

As guests were backing their cars out of driveways on Gilbert Lane, it was good Jeff McMurray was outside his parents’ home next to the Gillians’ to guide folks, especially Sam Capizzi, who barely missed hitting the electrical box by a hair. Gail McMurray returned home from picking up her granddaughter, Erin, from the Miss Night in Venice boat just in time to see all the commotion.

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan Around our Town with Cathy Finnegan


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