The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce combined their annual installation dinner at the Greate Bay Country Club with their 2012 Citizen of the Year and Business Beautification Awards, which was postponed in November due to Hurricane Sandy. Barbara Brown and Caitlin Greene along with JT Williams welcomed guests when they arrived while Michele Gillian and Shawnda McGinnis tended to last minute details.
Rose Savastano was a big help to this columnist as she corralled award winners for pictures for my column. Guests enjoyed the social hour in the lounge, which is where I caught up with Jennifer and Jeff Shirk. Jennifer just finished her fifth book and is excited about starting on her sixth. Meanwhile Jeff and brother, John, are delighted to finally be back in their renovated Fortress Financial offices at Eighth and Asbury. While most ladies wore slacks on this cold night, Denise Jessel looked wore an orange and brown print dress husband, Gary, picked out for her to wear. I enjoyed catching up with Barb and Phil Perri, who are enjoying some down time this winter, but gearing up for a busy summer season at the Forum. John Sabella told me to make him taller and give him hair when I took his picture before dinner. Bill Maguire isn’t quite sure what he and his wife are going to do with the Cricket Box that was severely damaged during Sandy, but did report they have two spots set up in Stainton’s Gallery of Shops. I enjoyed meeting Marvin Waxman and his son, Adam, who opened Peace, Love and Yogurt on the boardwalk last summer. While Adam lives in Linwood, and Marvin divides his time between Cherry Hill and Margate, they are delighted to be in their prime location on the boardwalk across from the Music Pier.
When I spotted my next door neighbor, Gregg Matis, he insisted that I take a picture of the AtlantiCare Physician Group, gold sponsors of the dinner. Local boys, Jason Chew and Steve Cozamanis, head of this group and Steve told me he graduated Ocean City High School in 1985 with my son, John. Shannon Stirnweis is known as “The Boss” while Jennifer Little is director of finance. Dana Lisicki, physician practice administrator, told everyone to say “yes” just before I took their picture. Jane French, who just returned from Venice, Fla. was on hand to take pictures of her good friend, Mark Soifer, and told everyone to pay attention to this columnist when I snapped their picture. Mark and Toby’s daughter, Becky Agronsky, and grandchildren, John and Talia Burkhart, were on hand to honor the Citizen of the Decade. Brian Broadley was looking forward to his second term as president of the chamber, however wife Caren, wasn’t on hand for the dinner as she was home making dinner for daughter Taylor, who came home from college for the weekend. Realtor John Walton reports that despite all the doom and gloom about real estate, he and Stacy Demcher of the Walton Group have sold 15 homes since the first of the year. John even sold his own home and moved into his second home at Third and Corinthian. John is looking forward to the Business Person’s Plunge in the ocean on Memorial Day.
Tammy Seuff guided guests into the dining room for dinner as Brian Broadley stood at the podium to start the festivities. Chamber President Elect Bill McMahon celebrated his birthday at the dinner. I enjoyed dinner chatting with Carol Heenan, Michael Dukeman, Karen Bergman, Denise Sammartino, Rick Travers, Ronnie Town, Rita Fulginiti and Hank Glaser. Carol is excited her nephew, Michael, from Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor, is joining her in real estate. Karen and Denise, from The Flanders, enjoyed relaxing and being served dinner at Greate Bay. Hank recently returned from a vacation in Barcelona and reports his mom, Virginia Glaser, turns 99 on April 6. Ronnie is looking forward to her marriage to Dan Schell to take place March 30 at the Mad Batter in Cape May. Rita showed off her designer purse from the Mimi Shop in Stone Harbor that was actually two purses in one. Rita joked about being the backup to officiate at Ronnie and Dan’s wedding. Rick reports wife Brenda was in Disneyland with daughter Nicole where they were running a half marathon. Rick and Brenda are headed for San Diego for Nicole’s wedding May 5. Burt Wilkins and daughter Emily joined the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Route 52 causeway crew at their table for dinner. Bob Blevin was looking forward to taking several courses at the FBI Academy at Quantico next week, while Gail planned to stay home and relax after their partying in the Keys. The “Henry girls” Elaine Potter, Sophie Marconi, Gail Lapka, Nina Camburn-Brown and Nancy Buscaglia were on hand to celebrate Henry’s 40 years on the boardwalk. Melissa and Tony Wilson left early as they were headed for the Bahamas in the morning.
Michele Gillian introduced the dignitaries then Jay Gillian installed the chamber directors, officers and president for 2013. The new Ocean City Visitors Guide was available at the dinner and Jay couldn’t resist joking about Playland’s Castaway Cove having the coveted back cover while Wonderland was relegated to the inside back page.
Following the presentation of awards to the businesses and organizations being honored it was time to honor the Citizen of the Decade, Mark Soifer. Mark is 80 years old and has been Ocean City’s public relations director for 45 years. Jeff Van Drew was on hand to congratulate Mark and Mike Dattilo joked about Mark having a problem sticking to a budget. Mike also said he “enjoyed dining with his favorite mayor” – “it was nice being with you Lenny.” Rita Fulginiti presented Mark with a pen desk set while Winnie Piriano read a couple of Mark's poems from one of his books she found in her home and joked about getting Mark to autograph it and then it would really belong to her. Freeholder and Mayor of Sea Isle City Lenny Desiderio had the audience laughing and clapping when he strolled in to make his presentation sporting Mark’s trademark “Trashbuster” costume. Never at a loss for words, Lenny had lots of quips like his now famous “Sea Isle City is ready.” When he presented the Key to Sea Isle City to Mark, he said, “They don’t give these out to just anyone – its not like getting tickets to Gillian’s.”
“This key entitled Mark to park at any meter and sit on any beach in Sea Isle from Sept. 15 to May 15.”
Also Sea Isle’s key is bigger than Ocean City’s. Mark Soifer took time to thank everyone for this honor especially noting the nine mayors who put up with him for 45 years. Michele Gillian presented Toby Soifer with a lovely bouquet of flowers at the end of the evening. I caught up with Jane Jacobson, Leigh Batastini and Chris Adams in line to get our coats. Chris is working for the Atlantic City Convention Bureau with Mickey Brennan, Michele Gillian’s mother.
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