A large crowd gathered at the Greate Bay Country Club for the Ocean City High School surf team scholarship fundraiser on a late winter Friday night. Peggy Blizzard and Susan Biglin were stationed just inside the door to welcome guests when they arrived while upstairs Jennifer Bowman made sure everyone got tickets for the raffle and door prizes.
I caught up with members of the Ocean City High School surf team, Townie Godfrey, Andrew Gallagher, Zach Veneziano, Frank Brady, Jimmy Naplacic, Nick Ceccoli, Pat Mc Carron, Luke Quinton Nicholl and Colby McGuigan, checking out the surfboards in the Chinese auction. When I stopped to chat with cheerleader Maddison Halliday, she told me she and the other cheerleaders were busy rehearsing for the Mr. Ocean City High School competition.
Charlie Bowman and Herb Godfrey told me Mike Lukens started this surf team scholarship fundraiser last year and expected this year’s event to be even bigger. As guests lined up to fill their platters at the buffet, I chatted with Greate Bay chef Mike Harmony, who outdid himself. Meanwhile downstairs at the front door, Peggy and Susan were busy as I spotted Gail and Jen Ping, Cheryl and Dave Edwards, Joe Phillips and Kristin Montanero among the guests waiting in line. Congrats to Kristin and Joe, who got engaged a couple of weeks ago. I apologized to Roger Howell for making him wait to get in while I took a picture.
When Mark Miedama arrived with his 7-year-old daughter, Phoebe, he was happy to pose for a picture with members of the surf team, John Simonson, Marc Pfander, Scott Kirkpatrick and Zach Greaser. Mark has been coaching the surf team for 27 years. Mark told me although this is a fall sport, due to Hurricane Sandy, the high school championship has been rescheduled for April 13 and 14 on the Third Street beach. I chatted with Mary and Mike McGuckin as we headed back upstairs to the dining room that was now overflowing and the dance floor jumping as the SSP’s had taken to the stage and the place was rocking. Mary and I discussed the guest speaker for the Stainton brunch on May 5 and, for a few minutes, we couldn’t recall that Charles Gibson was last year’s speaker.
Jon Batastini’s looking trim and admitted he’s lost 18 pounds in his weight loss challenge with two City Council members. It was easy to spot Keith Gesler in the crowded room as he sported a bright red ski sweater. Keith and Kathy introduced me to their son, Andrew, and his wife, Jeannine, who married Dec. 28. Andrew is a pro surfer while Jeannine is a nurse at Cape Regional. Thanks to Kathy Gesler who introduced me to surfer Tina Spadafora, who opened Yoasis on Asbury Avenue last summer. Enjoying the benefit with Tina were pro surfer Rob Kelly (Ocean City High School ’08), surfers Brian Liess (Ocean City High School ’08), Rob Liess (Ocean City High School ’06), Brian Ketcik, Matt Gushka, surfer parents Donna and Jim Kelly, and Shannon Williams, who was a cheerleader at Ocean City High School in ‘08. Shannon just graduated Utah Valley University and enjoys taking photos and videos of the surfers. Tina Spadafora still surfs and was the first recipient of the surf team scholarship when she graduated Ocean City High School in ’05. Tina told me she and the other pro surfers were competing in Puerto Rico for three weeks in January.
Don Pileggi, who has always been a great supporter of surfing in Ocean City, enjoyed the benefit with his granddaughter, Brooke Pileggi, who is an event planner at Steve & Cookie’s in Margate. Lisa McGuigan was attending a fitness convention in Philadelphia for three days, but drove home to attend the fundraiser with husband Fran, as their son, Colby, is on the surf team. I enjoyed talking with Sue and Mark Anderson whose son, Peter, is on the surf team, then took a break to enjoy the buffet and sat down with Cheryl and Dave Edwards in the lounge. Thanks to Cheryl, who rounded up folks and brought them over to me, so I could take their pictures for my column.
Leigh Batastini, Kathy Taylor, Sandy and Tom Aromando and I joked about spending so much time at the Greate Bay, as we had been here the night before for the chamber dinner. Sandy and son Matthew are headed for the Dominican Republic again this year during the Easter vacation with the St. Peter’s United Methodist Church Mission team. Mike Kalodner and I are becoming fast friends, as we keep running into each other at these benefits. Cathy Megargee, who grew up in the Poconos, has been an electrician for 32 years. Meanwhile, husband Mike Megargee, who formed the Nae Breeks Pipe Band 14 years ago, is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day when they are always in demand. Mike told me he was the winner of the surfboard at this fundraiser last year. Greate Bay banquet manager Tami Seuff is looking forward to the UMW’s luncheon and fashion show at the club on May 18.
Cheryl Edwards reports Laura and Skip Katz are busy planning three weddings as three of their four daughters are engaged to be married with daughter Cami’s wedding scheduled for May 11 in St. Petersburg. Jenny and Mark Pfander were looking forward to a little “R&R” the next couple of weeks while Jenny’s father, Frank Unger, is on vacation in Cancun with daughter, Maribeth Neall.
When I noticed guests walking around with ice cream cones, I ventured back into the dining room to check out the dessert table and requested a double dip butter pecan ice cream in a delicious sugar waffle cone. Jon Batastini even went off his diet to enjoy one of these tasty treats that took us back to our childhood days. Peggy Blizzard was glad to take a break from selling tickets at the door, so she could listen to the band as this was the first time husband Wayne had played keyboard since his accident over nine years ago. I was surprised to spot Greg Sykora, the lead singer of SSP’s, a band he formed 10 years ago, as I had no idea Greg was so talented. Greg introduced me to band members, Paul Ringkamp on lead guitar; Tim Laverty, an Ocean City firefighter, on guitar; John Vogt, an Ocean City police officer, on drums; Don Maccini, who works at Borgata, on percussion; and Greg Clayton, a teacher in Galloway Township, on bass. Greg also introduced me to his parents, Esther and Rick Sykora, at their ringside table, and his aunt and uncle, Sharon and Tom Fillis, who sported SSP’s shirts and admitted they were Greg’s biggest fans. The SSP’s donated their services for this fundraiser and when they started their next set, Greg dedicated their first number to this columnist. I spotted Jen and Gail Ping and Beth and Steve Dyjak on the crowed dance floor as I headed home and stopped to chat with Katie and Caroline Bowman and Abbey Lyons, who were anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winners of the fabulous prizes.
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