The British Are Coming … to Patchogue

(Front: Left to right) Penelope Grippo King Charles Coronation chair with committee members, co-chair Ann Bartonik, Elks Club members Therese Rosavitch, Kathleen Rosavitch, (back: left to right) Ed Rosavitch, Gerard Pernot and Greater Patchogue Foundation Chairman Tom Keegan. Photo by Linda Leuzzi.

Penelope Grippo of Patchogue was born nine months after World War II began, 30 miles from London in Luton, Bedfordshire, England. “One of my favorite memories was when the American soldiers came to our village,” she said. “They were very good to us and brought us food. My father said, `be respectful to these young men.’ So, I grew up admiring what they did for us and for Europe.”

Grippo eventually moved here in 1980, owned a bridal business and joined the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. An ardent admirer of the royal family, (her house is decorated when the royals get married, have babies, when Princess Diana died, as well as when Queen Elizabeth passed), she is the initiator and committee chair of the chamber’s Greater Patchogue Foundation’s Cultural Committee’s event, the self-proclaimed Long Island Headquarters of the Coronation of King Charles. It will take place with fanfare in Patchogue Village on Sunday, May 7.

Beginning at noon to 5 p.m., all visitors are welcome to the Coronation Command Center at Patchogue Elks Lodge 14A Oak Street, (one block up off South Ocean Avenue) as well as various participating businesses where patrons can enjoy appropriate British fare including specially concocted King Charles Martinis and Queen Consort Camilla Gin and Tonics.

Patchogue Village will be decorated in style.

“Main Street won’t be closed, but we’re going to have flags,” Grippo said. A huge one will be draped in front of the storefronts and 3 x 5 flags along with bunting will regale the sidewalks. “We’re trying to get a costumed bobby, a police guard, and a king and a queen,” she said. “We’ll also have horses coming down the street. There are quite a few people visiting from other countries. No matter what people think, England and America are always together. We are as one.”

Patchogue does have a historic connection. Committee co-chair Ann Bartonik pointed out that Patchogue used to have a British Club. “There were a lot of British war brides here and they’d have tea every month at someone’s home,” she said.

Grippo shared a lot of fond memories, including when she was 15. Her mother died when she was a youngster, and her father was killed in the war. “I had to leave school to support our family, four brothers, and went to work for the British Telecom Microwave Network (radio links in the U.K.) One day we were told by the chief superintendent that Queen Elizabeth was coming. We were told only to curtsy and not say anything, but she stopped before me and asked me how old I was and why was I so young to be working. I told her about my mother dying and my father’s death as a soldier and she told me, ‘Your father is a hero and you are a hero as well.’ It was such a big thing to me; she made me feel wonderful. When she died last September, I thought, `I lived through the old king and then saw my queen’s coronation and life, and now see her son Charles become king.’”

Grippo is looking for funding to make the day especially memorable. Those interested can call the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce office at 631-207-1000 or contact them via

“We don’t do this every year, it’s a coronation that’s once in a lifetime, so we’re looking to make this a really special event,” added Greater Patchogue Foundation founder and chairman Tom Keegan.