I had the privilege of performing the National Anthem and joining as a guest for the evening. Recognized at the event was executive director of Staten Island Fleet Week, Vito Gioddie, and local businessman Joseph DeMarco for his exceptional fundraising efforts for the USIVO. Anthony Fanelli was also announced as the 2012 Grand Marshall for the Staten Island Memorial Day Parade, and Miss USIVO Laren Encarnacion was officiated into duty.
The beauty of tonight's awards was matched by the fun of the entertainment and good company. Staten Island loves its social life. My friends in the area attend galas almost nightly. Before you go writing them off as party animals, take note that every night out is a celebration of a cause, organization, etc. As we toil through the difficulties of school, work, bills, family...we could all use more celebration. Sometimes we fail to even recognize our own accomplishments as they become clouded by to-do's and workloads. Communities that come together regularly in this way generate safer environments from bullying and harassment by creating a sense of inclusion. Now that's something worth celebrating.
Oh, and look who I found! Miss Richmond County 2012 Stephanie Accardo! She looks lovely, eh? Always a pleasure to catch up with the girls.