Ocean Bay Park

Barbara Gaby Placilla ~ As this pandemic summer winds down, there has been some small consolation in the fact that several annual events still took place. Saturday, Aug. 15, was the designated day. The Byrnes’, Tommy and Robbie, marked 35 years of wedded bliss the only way you can celebrate “Love in the Time of COVID-19.” They hosted a small dinner party with about 35 close friends and family at the Schooner Inn, the scene of their wedding in 1985. For Steve and me it was the perfect antidote to a summer of isolation and it was a nice surprise to see Donna and Mike Hemberger who came over for the day on their boat. Tommy and Robbie promise the usual blow out party next year.Last column I wrote that there was no softball, but I must stand corrected! Rachelle King informed me that the guys play softball every Saturday and Sunday and practice on Wednesday evenings. The annual Over Under game, in honor of Doug Gurian and Doug Gardener who were lost on 9/11, took place on the 15th. The “unders,” whose cut off age was 48, took the game 1-0. Pizza and drinks supplied by Danielle Gardner, and hotdogs from Brett Notine and family were all appropriately socially distanced. Again, Joel Mandel provided the shirts – this time in neon yellow.The Ocean Bay Park Association had to forego its annual Community Fair fundraiser so there was no Citarellla gourmet food, Wendy Schechter’s Yummy Bites or my clam chowder. Instead we held a raffle. Florence Goldstein won the Apple 5 watch, the Floating Island went home with the Solishes and MaryAnne Reuther got the T shirt memory quilt. The winner of the 50-50 was Mildred Nece. On behalf of my co-chairs, Dawn Cloutier and Lisa Jaffe, thank you to all OBPers who turned out in support.This Sept. 11 marks the 19th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings and I want to honor the recent passing of Tom Neal who has joined the list of first responders who gave their lives that day. Tom, a NYPD detective, was known and loved by so many of us here in the Park. He spent the past 25 summers here where he met his wife and soulmate, Pam Birnbaum. We nicknamed him Cabana Boy and Tommy Tuna both for his love of the beach and fishing. He convinced me to take up canning, which I really never took a liking to, probably because my pickles never tasted as good as his. Every time I see the mounds of mown grass in our tomato beds, I think of him and the gardening tips he would swap with my husband, Steve. Tom was one of those 9/11 first responders who lived with the aftermath of that day, yet he played the cards he was dealt and lived his life to the fullest until the end. You will never see a picture of Tom Neal without that trademark smile on his face.As we come to the end of a hopefully once in a lifetime summer, when we see our first responders, we should all say thanks and remember “all gave some but some gave all.” Until next year, stay well, stay safe and please WEAR A MASK.Photo: Tom Neal, you will be missed.