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It was the social event of the season when The Flanders Hotel celebrated their 90th anniversary. It felt like we were stepping back in time we arrived in 1920s attire and posed for pictures in front of antique cars provided by Jersey Cape Region Antique Automobile Club lined up in front of the hotel.
A walk on the red carpet led to the large double doors where Van Anderson greeted us sporting a vintage black tuxedo, white gloves and black top hat. Peter Voudouris, Flanders board president, wore a charcoal gray tuxedo with cutaway tails as he greeted guests and tended to last minute details.
Bob Pelli yelled “hi” as he rushed by. He and his crew spent the day setting up for the gala. Steve Bergman traded in his painter pants for black tie and tails. Laurie Howey, Ken Cooper and Ann Sloan welcomed guests while the Ocean City High School jazz ensemble entertained in the upstairs lobby as guests enjoyed the social hour. Marion McCaughey and Joanne Budnick sported lace dresses they wore for their weddings back in the 1980s. Gary Jessel kept checking his iPhone for the latest score of the Eagles vs. Redskins game. Charlie Jurman and this columnist reminisced about days when we worked at Elwood Kirkman’s law firm when he was owner of The Flanders.
Jennifer Bowman was a waitress at The Flanders in her high school days and was back on duty at the gala. Jean Bell was accompanied by her son, Bob Bell, who is the chef at the Carriage House. Bill Heep helped transport The Flanders’ switchboard from the Ocean City Historical Museum to The Flanders earlier in the day then headed home to slick his hair down with gel to look the part. Sally Huff is excited to be getting back in her home that had to be completely restored and raised after Hurricane Sandy.
Guests enjoyed checking out pictures of The Flanders in various stages of construction and changes made through its 90-year history that hung on the walls in the board room. The original Flanders switchboard, barber chair, Flanders Hotel Company stock certificates, RCA Victor phonograph and vintage Flanders waitress uniforms were also on display.
Nancy Fox, who was a regular entertainer at The Flanders in the 1970s, enjoyed the gala with husband Duke Spitzer. Mike Allegretto attended with wife Kathy and recalled being a waiter at The Flanders in his high school days. Joan Shaw didn’t let a broken ankle keep her from enjoying the gala. I told Rae Mullineaux I’d be at the January Garden Club meeting. Cheryl Edwards was in good shape after having run the half-marathon at Disney World a week ago. Alice Wolf and Marion McCaughey got home from a weekend in Baltimore to hear their favorite evangelist, Joel Osteen, just in time to get to the gala. When Michael Lloyd was asked to take a picture by a guest, everyone handed him their cameras to take their pictures.
I enjoyed catching up with Mary Kazmarck, who invited me to her brother’s Studio 18 dance party in Somers Point. Karen Jennings sported an Edwardian bathing suit she borrowed for the gala. Kevin Cunningham was a hit when he showed up as Mr. Peanut. Barb and Mike Columbo admitted their vintage wool bathing suits were very itchy. Jay Gillian wore a black shirt and tie and long, black coat accented with red rhinestones.
As guests were ushered down the hall of mirrors to the dining room, John Walton and this columnist enjoyed a dance while the jazz band played one last number. With TV40 filming our dance and Stacy Demcher snapping pictures, John and I showed off some fancy footwork.
I quickly located Jim at our table with Susan and Fred Miller, Sharon and Joe
Grimes, Stu Sirott, Sue Sheppard, Frank Faverzani, Rita Fulginiti, Carol Heenan and Eric Wakabayashi. In keeping with the poem “In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow,” bright red poppies in crystal bowls from Mark Videtto at Spinning Wheel Florist served as centerpieces on the tables.
Susan and Fred are busy putting the finishing touches on their new book on old hotels in Ocean City and were surprised to learn I worked forElwood Kirkman’s law firm in my younger days and had a picture of the former Flanders owner sitting behind his desk in his office in the Boardwalk National Bank Building in Atlantic City. Karen Bergman, a driving force in coordinating and planning this gala, thanked everyone for attending then introduced Peter Voudouris, who gave a chronological history of this 90-year-old, world famous hotel.
County Clerk Rita Fulginiti presented Peter with a recorded copy of the certificate of Ocean City Hotel Corporation, record of four original building contracts and the original deeds to the hotel. Freeholder Marie Hayes, who wore a cloche hat with spit curls, and surrogate Sue Sheppard presented proclamations to Peter. Arlene Voudouris received kudos for renovating and reopening The Shops at Flanders, which are thriving.
Chef Blake Young recreated The Flanders’ opening night menu served July 18, 1923. After dinner, the DJ turned up the volume in the Crystal Ballroom as guests made their way onto the dance floor. I spotted Gail Ping in a red sequin fringe dress, Floss Cooper, Winnie Piriano, Beverly Denney, Maryann Jones, Maribeth Neall and Joanne Budnick burning up calories on the dance floor.
Keith Hartzell turned heads when he arrived late after getting home from the Eagles vs. Redskins game sporting a zoot suit, black soft hat and black and white spectator shoes.
Everyone had fun getting their pictures taken in the photo booth where Jim and I caught up with Debby Murphy and Art Ford waiting in line. Rick Young and his wife attended the gala as they wanted to sample their son’s dinner. Former Flanders owner Jim Dwyer attended the gala as did Ron Denney, Doug Heun and Jim Fraser of Ocean City Partners, who owned and operated the banquet facilities. Sandra and Brian Roberts, Karen and Tom Heist, Jennifer and Tom Heist, Susan and John Shirk and Janice and Jim Mott had a good table near the dining room entrance where everyone stopped to chat with them.
Flanders marketing coordinator Denise Sammartino announced the semi-finalists for best outfit contest, who lined up on stage for the final vote. Male winner Mike Columbo in his 1920s wool bathing suit won a television, while female winner Noel Wirth, in her black sequin fringe dress and feather headband, won gift certificates to the salon andshops at Flanders. Linda DeLanzo, who wore a purple flapper dress, won the door prize, a night’s stay in the penthouse at The Flanders.
The evening was winding down when Ned McCaughey and my husband gave Marion and this columnist the sign they were ready to leave. But this columnist had to hit the dance floor one last time when the DJ finally played “The Charleston.” Van Anderson was still at the front door to bid us a “Good night” and we told him it was a wonderful affair we will talk about for a long time. Proceeds from the gala will be donated to the Ocean City Historical Museum, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.