Ocean City comes out to celebrate King with annual service, dinner

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Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

A celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was held at the Ocean City High School Hughes Performing Arts Center the weekend of Martin Luther King Day.

Ruth and Paul Anselm were settling into their seats when I arrived and took a seat near the stage. Mike Dattilo served as host with Revs. Paul Jerkins, Drena Garrett and Marcie Stanford participating in the service and Charles Jerkins singing several numbers he wrote.

Jay Gillian, Jeff Van Drew and Bob Andrzejczak were on hand to make presentations to honorees Frank Donato, Scott Morgan and Rebecca “Becky” Wilson for their volunteer work after Hurricane Sandy.

Rev. Gregory Johnson concluded the celebration with his portrayal of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech followed by the inspirational section “We Shall Overcome.”

Following the program, guests gathered in the cafeteria for dinner. I accompanied June Hartzell to the dinner and waved to Michael Allegretto, Tony Wilson and Janie and Scott Halliday along the way. After a year off due to damage sustained at the Shiloh Baptist Church last year, Portia Thompson and Mary Miles were glad to be back preparing the dinner at the church. With the help of Keith Hartzell, they delivered the food to the cafeteria. Portia, Mary and Keith were joined by Winnie Piriano, Paula McFarland and Annie Godbolt behind the counter to serve the fried chicken, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, corn bread and more as guests went through the chow line with Jay Gillian leading the way. Sally Huff, Mike DeVlieger and Antwan McClellan were also at the head of the line.

I caught up with Joan Robertson and Eleanor Pratt, who I had been with earlier in the day at St. Peter’s hospitality group cook. It was great to see Joe Pratt out and about after his double lung transplant at Temple. Joselle Pratt, OCHS Class of ’86, is a chemist at GlaxoSmithKline. Melinda Mayne, who sported a red plaid scarf and beret, is looking forward to spending two months in Florida this winter to get out of this cold weather, although Michele Gillian didn’t get to wear any of her warm weather clothes she took to Florida when the temperature didn’t get above 60.

Andrea and Don Paul are headed to Florida to visit Andrea’s grandson. I promised to get the United Methodist Luncheon and Fashion Show tickets to Andrea before she leaves so she can get them organized for sale. This year’s luncheon will be held May 17 at Greate Bay Country Club. Aylshia Rowell, who graduated OCHS in 2013, is continuing her education at Atlantic Cape Community College. Sallie and Al Eachus want to see the performing arts center filled next year for Ocean City’s 25th year holding the Martin Luther King celebration. Alesia Watson, executive director of the Ocean City Housing Authority, enjoyed the celebration with her nieces, Tristan and Marcel Fulton, who are the daughters of her brother, Bernard Fulton, assistant deputy secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC. Kelly and Frank Donato had their hands full with 10-month-old daughter Tessa, who is beginning to walk, and 23-month-old daughter Mia, who was a little camera shy.

Cecelia and Marie Dugan were front and center when I got Michele and Jay Gillian and Mike Dattilo together with a picture. Marie, who is 94, finally stopped running bus trips.

Marcella Wall, Mary Pike and Dot Connell joined the Dugans for dinner and were surprised when I remembered taking their pictures at a high school dinner several years ago. Mary Pike is 85 and lives at The Shores at Wesley Manor. Marcella Wall is 93 and still lives at home, as does Dot Connell who will be 88 on March 5.

Lucy Wilent sported a new long hairstyle, but still didn’t want her picture taken. I had no problem with Bill Wilent, who lined up for a picture with Scott Morgan and his mother-in-law Gail Teschner, Greg Johnson and Paul Jerkins. LeAnn Morgan shied away from my camera as she was holding her grandchild. After years working in the office at the intermediate school, Gail is enjoying retirement looking after her great grandchildren and walking the boardwalk three days a week.

It was nice to meet Barbara and Jim Piston, who have been married 52 years. Having met at Tony Marts and spent many days on the beach, Barbara and Jim always dreamed of retiring to Ocean City. When Jim retired from teaching and Barbara retired as director of Christian education, they sold their home in Lansdale, Pa. and for the last 14 years have been living their dream.

When I spotted Becky Wilsonhaving dinner and realized I hadn’t taken her picture, I immediately got this popular Ward’s Pastry lady with bubbly personality to line up for a picture with four of five of her friends. That wasn’t possible as there were just so many friends, Charlene and Isaiah Green, Rev. Marcie Stanford, Joan Robertson, Sharon Coursey, Felicia Nixon, Doris Leggette and Antwan and Janelle McClellan, who wanted to be in a photo with Becky. As Joan Robertson and this columnist headed for our cars, we joked about our husbands not getting any dinner tonight as we were full after eating dinner early in the afternoon.

Jim and I must have had a premonition when we booked our winter vacation for the last week in January way back in September. With temperatures hovering between zero and 10 degrees most of the month and several major snowstorms, we thanked our travel consultant Peggy Doyle of So Jern Travel for planning our trip to Secrets Royal Beach in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

With our suitcases packed with bathing suits and lightweight clothes and stowed in the back of the Yukon, we put on ski jackets and gloves and headed up the Atlantic City Expressway to Pacifico Valet and picked up a driver who drove us to Philadelphia International Airport for our 7: 45 a.m. flight. With ski jackets left in the car, we headed inside to check our luggage then walked upstairs where we whizzed through security.

Everyone was freezing when the doors opened and we lined up to board the plane, however, after a four-hour flight, jackets were stowed in carry-ons as we walked off the plane in sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. With our passports checked and important papers filed, we picked up our luggage and were whisked off to our resort a half hour from the airport. It was unlimited luxury at this 4-year-old resort with pristine white beaches lined with tall palm trees, and huts to shade the sun. There were elegant restaurants for fine dining and nightly entertainment in the plaza at this all-inclusive, adults-only resort.

Whether lounging on the beach or by the winding river pools with a cool fruit drink in one hand and a good beach read in the other, this was the way to relax and unwind and forget about the cold weather back home. Late in the afternoon, Jim and I made it to the fitness center every afternoon to work off the pounds we were packing on. All too soon our week was up, but the good news was that the temperatures were in the 40s when we landed in Philadelphia.

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

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