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The 12th annual Charles Knox Memorial Scholarship Benefit was held at The Flanders Hotel on a snowy Friday night in February. Music filled the air as I climbed the steps to the second floor where I was greeted by Helena Hamilton and Michelle DeFelice, both wearing black. Arlene and Paul Stryker were thrilled that so many of their friends and family from Philadelphia drove to Ocean City on such a miserable night for this benefit.
Guests enjoyed the butlered hors d’oeuvres in the foyer and checked out and bid on the many silent auction items on display in the mirrored hallway leading to the dining room. This columnist took a deep breath and went to work hoping to stay awake having just flown in on the red eye from Hawaii, arriving in Ocean City at 9:30 a.m., and still not having any sleep. I caught up with Linda and Paul Raley and their son, Michael, sitting in front of the fireplace chatting with Marty and Ed Hughes and Andy Tietjen. Paul and Ed are retired Philadelphia police detectives. Paul owns Raley’s Pro Clean Carpet and Upholstery while Ed and wife, Marty, are headed for Clearwater, Fla. to watch the Phillies at spring training. Linda told me her son Michael is a chef, while she has worked for the law firm of Stradley, Ronon in Philadelphia for 40 years. Andy is Arlene’s father and lives over their restaurant where he helps out whenever needed especially at the block parties.
Although Karen Bergman was a guest at the benefit, the Flanders banquet manager couldn’t help herself and kept a close eye on all aspects while enjoying time with her husband, Steve. I enjoyed catching up with Kathleen Farrell who lives at Fourth and Boardwalk and often sees me walking by on nice days. Keith Hartzell arrived with his mother, June, who wore a black sweater with rhinestone accent. When I admired June’s hairstyle, she admitted she does it herself. Diane Phillips drove down from Toms River, but was glad she had a place to stay over in Ocean City and didn’t have to drive home in the snow. Vicky and Dino Tridente were busy after Hurricane Sandy as Vicky’s Salon Del Mare at Sixth and Asbury was closed for three weeks while Dino repaired the damage. On top of that, their son got married Nov. 23 and they have another son getting married April 14. When I spotted Charlie Bowman with a black sling on his right arm, I stopped to find out what happened. It seems Charlie, who is an avid surfer, was surfing in the ocean off First Street two days after Christmas and tore his rotator cuff. A good friend of Charlie’s, Dr. Brad Tucker, performed the three-hour surgery and there’s no surfing for Charlie for six months. Jen Bowman and Christine Wilson told me about the great spa weekend they enjoyed along with Melissa Wilson, Kendall Becher and Nicole Presnall. These gals felt they needed to relax and rejuvenate after making it through Hurricane Sandy. I checked out the Flyer’s lawn chair, paddle board, Flyer’s Stanley Cup signed hockey stick and gift packages created by Barbara Gilmour as guests headed into the Candlelight Ballroom for dinner.
I joined Denise and Gary Jessel at their table along with Ellen and John Watkins, Marty and Ed Hughes and Linda and Paul Raley. White linen tablecloths accented with red napkins and pink flower centerpieces in candlelit globes put everyone in a Valentine’s mood. Denise and Gary were headed for the Florida Keys Sunday with Gail and Bob Blevin to celebrate Bob’s 65th birthday. Tony Wilson, who kept an eye on our home while we were away, rushed in still sporting his raincoat as Paul Stryker stood at the podium to welcome everyone to the benefit and reported that over $150,000, raised at previous Charles Knox benefits, had been distributed to graduating students at Ocean City High School for college. Anne Sloan, who has been at The Flanders since August 2012, and Linda Smith, who has been at The Flanders for 10 years, guided the guests at each table to the Board Room where the buffet was set out for all to enjoy. Michael Kalodner, who works at the Greate Bay Country Club, was a guest at this benefit, sitting down and enjoying dinner with his friend, Silvana Giaccone, manager of Lugo at Revel. When I asked Rod Hamilton where Doc Anderson was, he told me he was in Florida, then called him on his cell phone and handed me the phone. I left him a message when he didn’t answer. When I took a picture of Terri and Frank Sicurella, Karen told me Frank is known as the “Ocean City Bread Man.”
I enjoyed meeting Jamie and Chris Miller, who have two sons and are enjoying their first year living in Ocean City year round. DJ Rossiter had to be up early Saturday morning to get her daughters, Carley and Sydney, to the Gloucester County Institute of Technology for their all day swim meet. Tricia Audino wore a short, multicolor sequin skirt and black sweater. Kendall and Bob Becher are looking forward to getting back in their home for the first time since Sandy flooded them out, however they have enjoyed living in the apartment over Fox Real Estate for the past three months. Kendall Becher and Melissa Wilson have lost 10 pounds, as they have joined their husbands, Bob and Tony, in their weight loss challenge. While Bob and Tony wouldn’t reveal how much they have lost, I understand they are delighted with their progress in the contest that will culminate on July 1. Kathy and Bill Orr have lived in Seaville for eight years. Bill is a retired police officer from Delaware County, who is now working for the Godfrey Funeral Homes. Ingrid and Ted Lyons told me their son is a recipient of a Charles Knox scholarship and is a sophomore at Santa Barbara City College. Sallie Godfrey and Pat Pacifico arrived late, but their friends waited for them to get their picture taken. Karen Mahar enjoyed the benefit with her mom, Gail Williams. I spotted Jay Lamont at the next table as the comedians took to the stage.
Bobby Ballentine arrived from Philadelphia and sat down at our table just before the start of the show. Chris Rich from Comedy Central, who has appeared on “The View,” got the show off to a good start with his stand up comedy routine. Main attraction, comedian Joe Matarese had the audience laughing from start to finish often cutting up his old friend, Paul Audino, who was sitting in the audience. Joe left his wife and two kids home in New York City to drive down the parkway in a snowstorm for the benefit, and was glad he had a room at The Flanders for the night and didn’t have to drive home. Joe joked about this being Hurricane Sandy meets the Blizzard of 2013.
After the comedy show guests took to the dance floor in the Crystal Ballroom and put in their final bids in the silent auction.