It was an unseasonably warm evening for Ocean City Home Bank’s 21st annual Philip Turner Memorial Tree Lighting Ceremony. A large crowd was gathered in the parking lot as Christmas carols played in the background and I stopped to catch up with Dottie McCrosson and Mike Dattilo. Keith Hartzell walked down the street to enjoy the festivities.
Gail Thompson stopped to give Sally Huff, Linda Gronert and this columnist a ticket for a chance to win one of the 35 $100 gift certificates to be used in stores on Asbury Avenue.
Melissa and Tony Wilson were on hand to see daughter, Julia, who is appearing as Linda Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” at the high school and who performed several numbers with the choir in costume on the platform set up in front of the bank. Julia will be appearing in the Intermediate School play “Beauty and the Beast” in January.
Kim Davidson introduced Home Bank officers, then Junior Miss Ocean City Shannon Wallace, standing in for the mayor, who wasn’t feeling well, flipped the switch to turn on the Christmas tree lights. Pete Madden was on hand to see his daughters dance with Mary Beth Snow’s Dance Place. It was great to see Richard Booth, who wanted to see his granddaughters perform. Richard is headed for Florida, but will be back for Christmas in Ocean City with all the grandchildren, then it’s back to Florida for the winter. When Chris Hyde tried to give me another ticket, I told her I already had one and had to ask her name since she forgot her nametag. I told Dan Dubbs he was too young to be retired, but Dan did just that on Sept. 1 after 25 years in the Ocean City Police Department. Bill Friend can’t believe its been a year since he retired as one of Ocean City’s finest. Bill reports the Deauville had a little damage outside from Hurricane Sandy, but the restaurant is just fine and in full swing for the holiday season.
After the ceremony, everyone gathered in the bank lobby to enjoy light refreshments while the children visited with Santa, who gave out candy canes. Thanks to Edina Custovic, who found out it was Vince DiCanio entertaining at the piano keyboard. Harry Galasso was sitting behind a desk talking with Meryl Hrabski and Katie Gabriel, who had to stop and count when I asked her how long she had been married: five months. These Home Bank employees were disturbed when they saw me taking notes with a TD Bank pen and replaced it with a OC Home Bank one. Jean Jacobson served cookies and told me she just returned from a river cruise on the Danube. I caught up with Ashley Acosta from the Egg Harbor City branch and Samantha Erickson from the Northfield branch. As I walked outside to get my car on Central Avenue, I ran into Kim and Matt Davidson, Tricia Ciliberto and Don Morgenweck breaking down the platform and light standards. Don is the bank’s CFO and was in charge of picking out the Fraser fir tree recently planted on the bank’s grounds.
The rain held off long enough for the Christmas parade to make its way down Asbury Avenue on a seasonably warm Friday night. Excited children lined up with their parents as they awaited the start of the parade and the arrival of Santa. Jim and I stopped to talk to Harry Vanderslice and son Cole in front of City Hall while wife Dawn ran home to get daughter Devon’s Miss Ocean City signs she forgot for her convertible. Scott Ruch was on duty, but stopped to pose for a picture. I chatted with Julie Dattilo and Cheryl Porreca waiting for the parade to start. Cheryl’s husband, John, is in the OCPD. Joey Porreca sported a Santa hat while Madison Morgan showed off her crazy knit ski hat. Fire engines flashed their lights as they led the parade, followed by Councilmen Antwan McClellen and Mike DeVlieger in convertibles while Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Nelson Albano walked behind their car, but Councilman Tony Wilson made his entrance in a horse drawn carriage accompanied by his children. Mark Soifer traded in his Trashbuster outfit and walked the parade lit up as a Christmas tree. The OCHS band, the Pitman Hobo Band and the Mummers String Band had everyone’s toes tapping when they marched by playing lively Christmas songs. Santa arrived perched high on a float escorted by the OCHS field hockey team. After the parade, Jim and I caught up with Linda and Curt Gronert, Jane and Ray Snyder and Mary and Marty Lukaes, who came up from Stone Harbor to watch the parade. Jane and Ray showed me a picture of their first grandchild, Daniela, who was born Nov. 10 and lives in Mt. Laurel. The Snyders are looking forward to babysitting Daniela next weekend while her parents are away. Mark Reimet wanted to take my picture when he walked by the Sting Ray where Stacy Klause and Holly Buck had lots of customers checking out seashore décor in this shop. Jeanne and Harry Lord stopped to chat when they walked by. Tim Williams reprimanded Jim and I when he caught us walking across Ninth and Asbury against the light and we passed the park where children were lined up to visit with Santa.
With Sue Phillips at the wheel and Dottie Schaefer riding shotgun, we made our way down the parkway and arrived at the Smithville Inn in good time for the annual Charity League Christmas luncheon. The Inn was beautifully decorated for the holidays and we were greeted by Judy Page, who gave us our name tags. Pin co-chair Sue McAfee handed out Charity League 2013 pin kits to members and friends of Charity League with specific instructions. I enjoyed chatting with Elena Steencken, who works at the Knitting Niche on Asbury Avenue. Elena admitted she has been knitting since she was 7 years old and loves making sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves for her three granddaughters and one grandson. Kim Georgetti was busy during the social hour selling raffle tickets for the holiday gift prizes on display. I recognized Terri Lombardi, who used to work at The Flanders and is now at Smithville, and was on duty to serve our Christmas lunch. Ingeborg Carlson has been making Charity League pins for 40 years and this year baked cookies to fill 150 tins to sell at the mart. Ingeborg told me she and Anne Adelman dated Ninth Street lifeguards when they were teenagers. Pin co-chair Karen Clark is also in charge of the Charity League scrapbook and took lots of pictures on her iPod. She did a great job getting all the Friends of Charity League in a picture in front of the fireplace. Brenda Thomas arrived just in time to sit down for lunch as she took a couple of wrong turns after she got off the parkway. Dottie, Sue and I enjoyed lunch chatting with Charity League President Chris Coulter and Vice President Mary Anne Foley, Marion Mitchell, Linda Phillips, Joan Bjork, Betty Jane Kane and Bobbie Lutz. Kathy Urban sported a red jacket accented with bright colored Christmas packages and the Charity League gold and red sequin Christmas package pin. While members hit the shops at Smithville after lunch, Sue, Dottie and this columnist headed back to Ocean City to complete our Christmas shopping.