Historical Society Gala

For one night, Russo’s on the Bay became the site of a Victorian ball.
The Richmond Hill Historical Society held its 10th Annual Dinner Dance at the famous catering hall on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. This year’s theme: a masked gala.
Sporting feathered masks and formal, flowing dresses, women in attendance seemed to enjoy the chance to dress up.
“My daughter left this mask when she moved out,” said Historical Society Board Member Rita Werner of her green, peacock mask. “It’s old, but very nice.”
Andrea Crawford, Chair of Community Board 9, wore a black mask and veil, and completed the theme by wearing a black dress. She said she found the mask at Ricky’s Emporium on Jamaica Avenue “and loved it.”
Crawford added that the turnout for the gala - 113 people, according to Historical Society President Nancy Cataldi - was “fabulous.”
“An event like this brings in people from all over,” said Crawford.
With some exceptions, men in attendance chose to forego the mask, but didn’t hesitate to offer solid excuses for their decisions.
“I had to walk up the stairs and didn’t want to fall on my face,” said Simcha Waisman, President of the Richmond Hill Block Association.
Senator Serphin Maltese quipped that his wife told him he “looked so good I didn’t need a mask.”
Attendees kept busy at the raffle table, salivating over a plethora of prizes, including an autographed Paul Lo Duca baseball, facials, massages, pedicures, and a $40 gift certificate to Once Upon a Time Antiques.
Cataldi was the honoree for the event, and no one in attendance argued against the impact she has had on the Richmond Hill community.
“It’s good to know we have someone who cares about our history,” said Waisman. His Block Association, he said, works closely with the Historical Society on certain issues. “She’s well-known, and she’s a go-getter.”
In ten years with the Historical Society, Cataldi has spearheaded an ongoing campaign to get parts of Richmond Hill declared historical landmarks. She is currently attempting to preserve the Republican Club building on Lefferts Boulevard between Jamaica and Hillside Avenues, a landmark which, she says, has not been well-maintained.
“Any group believing in saving tradition is important, and especially Nancy, who’s a real sparkplug,” said Maltese. “Richmond Hill is unique with its many old homes and buildings, and Nancy is an absolute necessity.”
Cataldi received proclamations from Maltese and Councilmember Dennis Gallagher. Historical Society Vice President Diane Freel presented Cataldi with a glass plate engraved with a picture of her Victorian home.
“It was very touching,” Cataldi said. “Really wonderful. It’s always nice to be honored for something like this. I’ve worked really hard and it’s nice to see that it’s appreciated.”
The evening culminated with hours of “very lively” dancing, said Werner. The event lasted until around midnight.
“The whole evening was just as wonderful as Nancy hoped it would be,” Werner said.

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