Fire Island Pines: Rose’s View

By Bob LevineThe Pines, a beautiful small Fire Island community on the Great South Bay is like a European village on the Mediterranean Sea, Capri or Portofino. This elegant and reserved town comes alive once a year with a crowd of folks, the likes of a festival where all the town’s people participate in the unusual activities of the day. This was the 40th anniversary of the Cherry Grove Invasion of The Pines. It began in 1976, when Terri Warren, a big and bold drag queen from Cherry Grove and her friends were refused entry to the Botel when she arrived. She returned to Cherry Grove outraged. One week later a group of 15 of us, including Panzi, Lynn Hutton and myself, dressed up and took Randy and Sally’s Water Taxi to the Pines. We had Invaded, and it has become a spectacular tradition ever since. I have been writing my column since 1973. I still have the original column from July 17, l976, describing that now infamous day. “Cherry Grove — INVADES THE PINES TEA DANCE – SAT 6:30 P.M. with a DRAG-IN” read the headline (sic.). It was done at the time as a lark, but look at the tradition it has become!Once again the Pines hosted a pre-show, with entertainment, an MC and the red carpet for the Invaders to walk down. Robin Byrd was in her usual spot filming and flagging. This year Randy Rainbow, wearing his Ruby Red Slippers, was the MC. He was quick and smart and kept the crowd interested in what was happening. He announced the boat winners for the day: 3rd prize went to “Freedom,” 2nd prize to “Donver,” and the grand 1st prize was bestowed on “Aquaminium.” Randy then introduced yours truly, Rose Levine, who sang “I Feel a Song Coming On.” Then he introduced Jay Pagano, who made a short speech about marriage equality and love in the Pines. Then Nicki LaFountaine sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as the first boat arrived.This year, the Invasion was done a little differently. There were two boats that arrived in the Pines from Cherry Grove. In the first boat, Panzi and Lynn Hutton rode along with New York City’s Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band; they made a procession off the boat playing their instruments while others were dancing with batons. The crowd was going wild with excitement hearing the band play, as they never performed in the Pines before.The second boat arrived with all the queens from the Grove. Panzi introduced all as they walked off the boat. At least 250 people were adorned in costumes themed as groups or individuals. The highlight of the Parade was when the old Homecoming Queens came off the boat as Panzi called out the year of their reign. The boat left the Pines at 4 p.m. As we were just arriving back to the Grove it started to rain on our parade, but that didn’t stop the celebration. Many thanks to Randy Wilson, Jay Pagano, Jim Vandernoth, Anthony Torsetta and others who helped put this spectacular event together. We missed Ariodne Villarreall, who this year was called to California to supervise and direct an event in Santa Barbara for the Dali Lama, but a good time was still had by all.Diane Friedman and Jill Meyers were sitting in the harbor with a Welcome Scarlet Oh banner waiting for her arrival. Scarlet Oh! is Joan Van Ness, who was the first real girl to enter the Homecoming Queen contest, and won the title in l994.Celebrity sightings in the Pines include Anne Hathaway; Daniel Reichard, one of the former original “Jersey Boys;” Sarah Jessica Parker with Andy Cohen; and Bjork. Laura Haim, Pines resident for 10 years now, when not in Paris she also resides in Washington, D.C., covered the Invasion for Canal Plus, a European French HBO cable network. Haim is a news reporter and a White House correspondent. She has been the guest of MSNBC during the Charlie Hebdo attacks. She told me she has 95,000 followers on Twitter.Michael DeFalco and Bill Matthews have been entertaining guests at their new oceanfront house. Michael’s parents, Eleanor and Fred, both 93 years old and who will soon be celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary, are visiting from Boca Raton. In addition, their friend, Scotty, is with them. Todd Sears and Chris Garcia celebrated their 10th anniversary on July 2, at Sip-N-Twill where they met. They dined at The Bistro with their guest, David Aldea.Rick Sadovsky and Jeremy Warren are enjoying their vacation time at their lovely beach house in the Pines. They too dined at the Bistro with Michael and me, then we all danced and had a few drinks at Sip-N-Twirl while Lina was spinning. Richard Shubert and Kevin Taney had their friends, Richard Fong and Nicolas Dumont, from East Hampton. Pines resident Craig Schlossberg had his mother, Estelle, as his guest for the weekend. She loves the Pines; she has good taste.Pines Bluff and Overlook had their traditional holiday barbecue. Once again they had many friends and neighbors including Peter, Roy, Tony, Bill as well as their guests, Luther, Frank, Ralph Simmons, Michael DeFalaco, Bill Matthews, plus their own house guests, Sam Sassano and Tom Mosher, from Cape May, NJ.The Ascension party, which originated in the Pines, will now be held in Mykonos, Greece, on Aug. 15 and 16. You can pack your bags, but I don’t think you can get there by LIRR or the A train.Congratulations to Nicole LaFountaine and Paul Stohrer on their recent marriage.Weekend of July 17 -19: The Annual Fire Island Dance Festival will once again be held in the Pines. I was told performances are sold out, but someone always has one extra ticket.Aug. 1: The Bi-Annual Art Show at Whyte Hall will feature 20 exhibiting artists, from 1-3 p.m. Admission: $5; FIPAP members are free.