SMITHTOWN BAY 40TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER CRUISE
SMITHTOWN BAY POWER SQUADRON CRUISES INTO ITS
On 28 April 1990, 208 members, associate members and guests joined Smithtown Bay Power Squadron on an elegant dining and dancing cruise around Manhattan aboard the 160 foot "Princess of New York" in celebration of its 40th Anniversary. "The Princess of New York", pride of the fleet of World Yacht Cruises, departed from Pier 62, West 23rd Street, at the Hudson River at 2030 to return at 0030. There is no more exciting way to see New York than from the water and the night time view of the skyline is overwhelming.
The planning of this momentous occasion began in the Spring of 1988 when P/C Ben LaRosa, AP and P/C Dan O'Brien, N_ discussed doing something different for the Squadron's 40th Anniversary. Subsequently P/C Ben LaRosa, AP and D/C Joe Zimmer, AP asked a group of us: "How many of you would attend a dinner dance cruise for our 40th?". We shouted, "All of us!" and "all of us" eventually resulted in representation from 15 of D/3's 20 Squadrons, from several Yacht Clubs and many relatives and friends.
This was the largest social event ever undertaken by Smithtown Bay. A special committee was formed and sprang immediately into action. The committee, co-chaired by P/C Ben LaRosa, AP and P/C Dan O'Brien, N,_ consisted of virtually all Squadron Past Commanders. Other Past Commanders who shared a heavy workload were Gene Houghton, AP, Al Hiltunen, N_, Frank LaRosa, P, Joe Tipaldo, AP, and John McCarthy, AP. Wives were also enlisted to work enthusiastically on "Operation: Don't Miss The Boat in 90". After much research, the Committee selected World Yacht Cruises and "The Princess of New York". They also selected "The Fantastic Tony Grant Music Orchestra". With these great choices, it was full-speed ahead!
It was time to let the world know about these wonderful plans. Flyers were sent out to squadron members and associates. Squadron and District publications included ads for the Anniversary celebration. The next problem for the committee was: "How do 200 plus of us manage to arrive at the ship in a state of mind conducive to a great celebration considering the Saturday evening traffic problems on Long Island, in Queens and New York City?". Smithtown Bay knew the answer and provided five motor coaches for tension - free round trip transportation. Each bus made one or two stops along the way at designated spots and gathered up the waiting celebrants.
To help even further to ease the travails of traveling by coach, tasty snacks including cheese, crackers and pepperoni, and wine and soda were made available. These were served by the Bus Captains and their First Mates creating a festive atmosphere in which old acquaintanceships were renewed and new friendships developed. This was only the beginning of our heading towards "gourmet-dom.
As you know, and we will all remember the day, 28 April 1990, was one of superior weather in New York City. The sun shone in a cloudless sky, the temperatures reached the high 80's, the wind was calm and the visibility clear for several miles. Could anyone have chosen a more exemplary day which was selected two years in advance?
Upon arriving at Pier 62, the assembled celebrants awaited the boarding of "The Princess" while she was made ready for the journey. As we waited, we admired the New York skyline in bright sunlight - a sight that was so spectacular, but even more so under the stars later on. The USPS Ensign was flying from the stern of the Princess and D/C Joseph Zimmer's flag was flying from the bow.
Soon we had to show our "Smithtown Bay Power Squadron Passports", given to us when we entered our assigned motor coaches.
We made our way slowly up the gangway to the sound of Tony Grant's music and were greeted by the ship's officers: Welcome aboard!" " Thank you -- our pleasure", we replied. The serving staff stood by to give each of us a glass of wine as we passed. A sweet welcome to begin a lovely evening!
Adding to the excitement of Smithtown Bay's 40th Anniversary was the fact that their 30th Anniversary Commander Joseph Zimmer, AP is currently the District Three Commander. Joe and his lovely wife Carol Jean welcomed each guest as they boarded the Princess of New York. We were also pleased to have on board Smithtown Bay P/C and 1984 District Three Commander, Jim Davis, N and his wonderful First Mate, Shirley. Other Past District Three Commanders noted on board were John Holub N_, Howard Savage, N_, and Daniel Katz, N_.
Next we proceeded to the luxurious cocktail lounge where the burgees from all District 3 Squadrons were hanging. Drinks were served at tables and at the bar, from straight club soda to strawberry mai-tais. The superior service by the handsome hosts and the gorgeous hostesses included a variety of hors d'oeuvres such as: chicken porcupines, stuffed mushrooms, sea food beignets, skewered beef kabobs and more. These were distributed on trays as the staff passed among us. Hardly anyone could resist the tempting array of food.
Many of us chose to sit and watch the sights while being served on the forward deck of the "Princess" . The conversation included many topics like USPS, New York and of coarse boats, boats, boats. Suddenly we were moving slowly away from the dock and out into the Hudson River. As we moved along, we sighted the Empire State, Chrysler and World Trade Center buildings. Later we were to see the United Nations and Metropolitan Life buildings, and many other well-known structures and attractions of the New York skyline.
As we moved down river, we gradually drew near the Statue of Liberty but turned to port before we were close enough to see her clearly. Then we steamed up the East River gliding beneath the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges. We traversed the both rivers noting the highways and by-ways from our position afloat, both in the glorious daylight and in the dark of night. When the sun disappeared, the stars and planets began to appear. Sorry - no sextants, please!
We could now hear the orchestra playing on the lower deck, and were asked to make our way to the dining salon and to the dance floor. The excellent three-piece orchestra, led by Tony Grant, kept us dancing in all directions and at a variety of speeds. Luckily, "the Princess" provided firm footing even during "Rock ' Roll".
Commander Stephen Ciaravella, AP gave a brief welcoming message and P/C Dan O'Brien, N_ gave the invocation. Not to be forgotten in this 40th celebration is the fact that that we still have in our membership, a man who helped start it all, Charter Member Marcial B. L'Hommedieu, P. Speech making was so minimal that it was hardly noticed. This evening was obviously meant to be fully enjoyed, and nothing would be permitted to make waves. We all found our assigned tables and settled down to be fed.
The dinner consisted of Caesar Salad, chicken empress, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, bread and butter accompanied by a constantly replenished glass of wine or drink of your choice. All this was followed by a three-tiered dessert cart with fabulous fruit salad, cheese cake, Mississippi Mud pie, ice cream or any combination of the two or more. Quite a feast.
Later in the evening, with dinner nearly concluded, and while many of us were on the dance floor, the orchestras leader announced a temporary end to the dance music so that we could view "The Lady", The Statue of Liberty, and let her hear our serenade to freedom. And so, on to the upper deck to see Shining Liberty with her brightly lighted torch, seeming to say: : "Welcome to Liberty! Welcome to the United States of America!". It was the highlight of the evening as the Captain brought the bow of the ship up close and face to face with "The Lady". We stood there and raised our eyes to gaze on the symbol of our nation and its goals.
The band played on. We sang with fervor. Yes, there were tears in our eyes as we sang "O Beautiful For Spacious Skies!". Yes, "America Is The Beautiful". It was probably the most moving moment of the entire cruise, and the ship was most accommodating by idling its engines and standing almost motionless in the water, in respect for "The LADY".
Now, somewhat more silently we returned to our seats in the salon to finish our dessert and to await the return to the dock. We spoke quietly to each other not to break the spell. What a perfectly glorious way to end an evening cruise.
We debarked at the dock at 0030 as scheduled, found our motor coaches and were transported to our home bases. The Bus Captains issued memento Champagne glasses to all the attendees.
An unforgettable occasion!.
The 40th Anniversary Committee had planned perfectly for this excellent evening. Our thanks to them as well as all who attended and to Kathy Muenzen, Cruise Manager of World Yacht Cruises for this fine event.
This excellent article was written and submitted after the cruise by P/C Donald Burden, JN, Smithtown Bay and P/C Morris Ripps, N_, Bayside Power Squadron.
Smithtown Bay owes you both a debt of gratitude for capturing the event for posterity!