There Goes The Bride!!

On Saturday June 15th, Krissi and Michael became Mr. and Mrs. Mikowicz, and the young man we fell in love with the night we met him, has become our 4th son (#1 & #2, Billy and Kenny by birth, #3 & #4, Chris and Mike by marriage)! And you want to talk about a smart young man? Michael Joshua Mikowicz met our daughter on June 15th, asked our daughter to marry him on June 15th, and married our daughter on June 15th! One date to remember! Romantic or highly practical? If you ask him, he’d say highly practical, but I think romantic!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Wedding Weekend really started a week before, on Sunday night (June 9th) when we picked up Krissi’s two minute younger brother at the Philadelphia airport. Kenny and his husband Chris, are in the middle of a 12 month contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, sailing out of Galveston, and Kenny had signed off for a week to attend his sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t get the week off too, and we have dearly missed our 3rd son this whole week! Kenny had 3 days with us in Ocean City before we headed to New York, so his pre-wedding festivities included dinner at Angelo’s in AC, a drink at Crabby Jacks, dinner at the back bar at Charlies with our good friend Sue, and a visit to our favorite bartender, Ralph, at Harrahs!

 

Then it was off to New York for the real Wedding Weekend, and for the D’Elia Family, this started where our relationship started with Michael, in Mineola. For a number of years, it had been a twice a month tradition for Krissi and Susie to have their nails done late on Wednesday afternoon, while Dad held down a spot next door at the bar of the St. James restaurant.
When they were done, my girls would cross the driveway between the two buildings and join me for a drink, and then we’d all have dinner. “Nail Night”, as we called it, was a long established tradition, and the place Susie and I first met Mike, and a few weeks later, Kenny met Mike, and then Chris met Mike.

 

Krissi thought it was only right, that this trip down memory lane include a traditional Nail Night for the family, so that’s exactly what we did. Kenny and I dropped Susie off a little after 3 at Kim’s Best Nails (Kim happens to be the Mom of a very good high school friend of Krissi’s), while the two of us checked in and dropped off our stuff at the Homewood Suites just down the street from our old Mineola house. Then it was time to head to the St. James and meet Mike, who was getting off the train a little after 4 at the Mineola Station. Hugs were exchanged and drinks were poured, and it was our usual part one of Nail Night. Then when the girls were finished with their pedicures and manicures, they joined us, and the picture was complete!

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We were sorry that our regular bartender Dennis no longer works there, but hugs were exchanged with Mo and Cathy (a couple of favorite waitresses over the years), and the new bartender Barry did a great job making us feel we were home! After drinks, it was time to take the party to a different venue for dinner, Piccolo’s!

Susie and I first went to Piccolo’s the night we purchased our 1989 Ford Taurus wagon, so it has been 30 years we’ve been customers. Over those 30 years, we’ve become friends with the owners and watched their kids grow and they have watched ours do the same. Piccolo’s has become the D’Elia family’s special celebration place for birthday dinners, anniversary dinners, the place to take special friends, even my Mom’s surprise 80th birthday, and a place our kids have enjoyed since they were little! What better place to have a wonderful celebratory dinner, and it did not disappoint! Our old friend Bert was in the kitchen and his son Robbie was working the floor, and the D’Elias once again felt right at home!

 

Then it was time for the kids to return to Astoria, while Mom and Dad relaxed at the hotel, in preparation for the real Wedding Weekend!

After checking into the Paper Factory Hotel Friday afternoon (it had been a paper factory in a former life), getting to see Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry, and our North Carolina Family (our son Billy, our daughter-in-law Lori and grandkids Layla, Henry, and Anna), it was time to head down 2 blocks to Tacuba Mexican Cantina for the big family dinner. From Michael’s side of the family there was his Mom and Dad, and his sister Sara, her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan! From Krissi’s ,there was Susie and I, twin brother Kenny, older brother Billy, his wife Lori and our three grandkids, 5 year old Layla, 3 1/2 year old Henry, and the baby, two month old Anna! It was great, and so familiar to spend time with the Mikowicz Family, or as we like to refer to them, Our Maryland Family! They are great people, and Susie and I are so thrilled to officially make our families one!

 

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Krissi, Henry, Layla, Paula, Jerry, Mike, Ethan, Maddy

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Gabe, Sara, Kenny, Lori, Anna, Sue, Bill

The wedding day started rather leisurely for us with a couple of Queens Bodega egg platters (Damn Kenny…I really wanted the egg Sandwich, but thanks for trying to keep Mom and I low carb) and showers and dressing. Just before noon, Susie went up to help our little girl get dressed, and she loved it…Susie that is! 

 

Then she and I Ubered over to the kids apartment, where the rest of the family was waiting!  Kenny and his sister were the last to arrive, and when they got there, Dad went down in the lobby to stay with his daughter, while Kenny got everybody up to the roof. When it was time, Kenny texted me, and rather than walk my daughter down a long aisle, I rode up to the roof with her in the elevator. Now, just a word about Krissi and Mike’s ceremony desires. They both wanted a small ceremony, with just parents, siblings, and their kids, and that’s what they got! Susie and I, Paula and Jerry, his sister Sara (Maid of honor) and her husband Gabe with their kids Maddy and Ethan, Krissi’s twin Kenny (Best Man), and her older brother Billy, his wife Lori, and our Grandchildren Layla, Henry and Anna. Small, intimate, on the roof of their apartment building in Astoria, NY, with the Manhattan skyline as a back drop. Nobody would have any problem if she wanted 12 Bridesmaids and 12 Groomsmen, but she and Mike wanted to be married this way, and it was wonderful! A perfect setting on a perfect day for a perfect couple!

 

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Wedding Video Courtesy of Ms. Madeline Smith

 

 

 

After the wedding, we adjourned to their apartment for some champagne to toast Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!

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Cousins…sort of

Then it was off to the Boulevard Wine Bar for the party!

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The staff in this place couldn’t have been better, and the food and drinks kept coming. Being a wine bar, most seemed to be sticking with that (they had Rose, Cabernet, and Pino Grigio on tap), but there were drinks available too! I did ‘Rose-All-Day’ (a shout-out to son #3 on that phrase), and enjoyed seeing, and in some cases meeting, so many old friends of Krissi’s, other members of Mike’s Family, Susie’s sister Barbara and her husband Robbie (Krissi’s Godparents) and their son Ryan, our great friends Pat and Steve from Mineola, and people Krissi and Mike work with. Look, I’m gonna be honest here. When we came in the place, I sat down on a bar stool with my back to the bar, and I stayed there for the entire party! Everybody had to pass by me going in and going out, and I had no trouble getting Gabby the bartender to refill my wine glass! Worked for me!

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My Brother-in-law Robbie, my great friend Steve, my Beautiful Granddaughter Anna – Three (old) Men and a Baby!

Unfortunately, youngest son Kenny had a 7:55 flight to make out of LaGuardia to get back to Texas so he could re-board the Liberty of the Seas on Sunday morning. Just before 6, he changed out of his wedding suit, grabbed his bag, and amidst a lot of hugs and tears, Susie and I walked him out to the street to wait for his Uber. It was great that we had him this week, wonderful that he was able to be there with and for his twin sister, but sad that he couldn’t stay for the rest of the evening, and that his husband Chris couldn’t get off the ship too!
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Uncle Kenny says goodbye to Anna

After the last of the guests left the wine bar, we Ubered over the the Brewery that was to be the first after party, with Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry. We took a look, and the four of us decided that maybe this was time for the “older folks” (or as Jerry called us The Mommas and the Papas) to head back to the hotel and leave the carousing to the younger crowd! So I got us a chicken burrito bowl packed to travel from the food truck outside the brewery… and back to the hotel we went!

As our oldest son Bill and his family were leaving early Sunday morning to head back to North Carolina and celebrate Father’s Day, we said goodbye to our son and granddaughter Layla. (Mom, Henry and Anna had hit the hay by the time we got back to the hotel.) Susie and I then had a quiet, much needed, relaxing night in the hotel!

On Sunday morning, we found out that at the second stop on the after party circuit, Krissi and Mike realized they were done, and walked down the street to a diner, and ended their night sharing mozzarella sticks and potato skins. Just the two of them! Wish there were pictures of that!

To wrap up this weekend, we helped Krissi get her stuff from the hotel back to their apartment, and then the those of us left, joined in the apartment for a bagel before the families headed back to New Jersey and Maryland!

It was a wonderful week for Susie and I. First with our youngest child, then with Krissi and Mike, then adding son Billy, Lori (daughter #2) and the Grandkids, the rest of Mike’s family, and finally putting them all together with even more of our family, friends, co-workers, and people who were special to our kids, Krissi and Mike. Krissi, has always said she doesn’t like being the center of attention, and she had exactly the kind of wedding she wanted. I asked her Sunday morning if she’d gotten tired of smiling. She said no, she’d been fine. I asked her if she was okay being the center of attention. She said she kind of liked it. She summed it up by saying, “It was the best weekend of my life!”, as well it should have been! It was the wedding of her dreams!

Susie and I couldn’t be happier that Krissi and Mike are together, and we couldn’t have had a better weekend either! Surrounded by your family (by birth, by marriage, even by friendship), having something wonderful to celebrate, and feeling the love! What could be better!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Krissi and Michael Mikowicz, our daughter and son!

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Kristen Anne D’Elia

 

 

 

As a parent, it seems that the years just pass too fast.  You turn around, and that little girl who was just learning to walk, is driving.  Then she’s going to college, and then to graduate school.  Then she’s moving out of her teenage bedroom and into her own apartment.  Then she meets a guy she likes, and the next thing you know, she’s getting married!  Yep, life just flies by!

In just a week, our little Krissi, all grown up and now an administrator at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, will officially change her last name from D’Elia to Mikowicz, as she and Mike tie the knot!  Susie and I are so very proud of what our little girl has made of her life, and thrilled by her choice of Michael Joshua Mikowicz as her life partner!  These are two great kids (excuse me…adults), and we are so happy to have Mike, and the Maryland Mikowicz Family join together with our family!

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Twins Krissi and Kenny and older brother Bill

Krissi is our “middle child”, the two minute older sibling of her twin brother Kenny, and the 4 year younger sister of big brother Bill.  Right from the start, these twins couldn’t have been any more different.  Well, the obvious is, of course, him being a boy and she being a girl, but they were 6 weeks premature, and basically that’s because Krissi wanted to get out and see the world, while Kenny would have been happy to bake a little bit more in Susie.  Because of that, she was out of the NICU in only 18 days, while Kenny needed 28 days to get to 5 pounds.  As they grew up, Kenny was the one more likely to take a risk, while Krissi liked the safer side of the street.  Kenny was also one to cut people off quicker, while Krissi was in for the long hall!

 

As Krissi grew, it became obvious that she cared greatly for people and their welfare.  She was the girl to sign up for a cause!  When her brother Kenny came out to all of us, she was his staunchest defender when kids at high school would give him a hard time.  When you have Krissi on your side, you’ve really got all you need!!

When she went off to college, we were a bit worried about how she’d take being away from her twin brother.  The day we dropped her off at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., I’m not sure who was crying more…our daughter or her Mom!  But quickly we realized we had nothing to worry about.  She made friends (most of which she still has to this day), attacked her studies with passion, and got involved in extracurricular events.  She graduated with dual majors, a ton of friends, and a nice resume of achievements, many having to do with the welfare of Clark students and the residents of Worcester!  Then she came home.

A couple of pictures of the “Original Five” first at Brother Bill’s Wedding and then in Atlantic City!!

 

 

As hard as that was for any college kid, this girl had direction.  She wanted to help people, so she got herself an intern position with the NYC Human Rights Council.  She loved the work, the causes, and the people she worked with, and wondered if this could be a career.  She decided that perhaps getting a Masters of Public Administration degree might be a good first step, so she applied to several graduate schools. She also decided that she needed some money of her own, so she set out to get a job.

Getting accepted to several graduate programs, she decided to go to my Alma Mater, LIU Post, and for money, she got a part-time job at a local cardiologist’s office.  Once school started, she was working several days in NYC, several more at LI Heart near the Mineola Train Station, and traveling nightly from Mineola to Greenvale.   She was one busy young lady!  She originally was hired at LI Heart to digitize medical records, but pretty soon her work ethic brought her to the attention of the folks who ran the place and forced her to make a decision.  They wanted her to work there full-time, but that would mean giving up her internship.  She loved her intern work, but realized that taking the full-time job was the smarter move on her part!  She was great at getting the job done and at customer service, which I always credited on her three summers working at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

Working at LI Heart, she realized that there were many people she could help working in the medical profession, so she tailored her MPA degree more towards Medical than Non-Profit.  The girl had found what she wanted to do, and knew how to get there!  She continued to work at LI Heart, continued to excel in her graduate studies, and continued living at home.  

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Mom, twin brother Kenny, and Dad celebrate with the new MPA

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Her Weill-Cornell Office

Once she got her MPA Degree, she moved to Astoria, but continued working at Long Island Heart and commuted every day from Astoria to Mineola.  They were hot to keep her at LI Heart, but she knew that to really grow, she had to find a position in a bigger organization, and sent out resumes and went to many job interviews, till she was finally offered an entry level position at Weill-Cornell.  Foot in the door, our girl excelled, as usual, and as they say, the rest is history!

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At brother Kenny’s Wedding last October

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Nail Night w/ Dennis

She met Mike through on-line dating, and being the cautious person she is, didn’t saying anything to Mom and Dad for several months.  When she finally spilled the beans, they were well on their way to having a meaningful relationship. Mike joined us one Wednesday for “Nail Night” at the St. James, and after the first night, we were sold on him.  There were more nail nights with Mike, and pretty soon we felt like he was part of the family!  He went to the bathroom one night and I told Krissi, “If you break up with him, we’re keeping him!”  They didn’t and we’re thrilled!

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Their Astoria Roof

So on Saturday, June 15th, Kristen Anne D’Elia and Michael Joshua Mikowicz, on the rooftop of their Astoria Apartment Building, will become one.  It will be a small private ceremony with just parents and siblings, because that’s what they want.  Later in the day, there will be a party for their New York Family and friends at an Astoria Wine Bar.  In July, there will be a gathering at his sister Sara’s house in Maryland for Mike’s Maryland family and friends, and in the fall, there will be another gathering down here at the shore for family and friends.

Susie and I couldn’t be any prouder of these two.  They care about people, they are smart, they are fun, they are financially responsible (Krissi has already paid off her graduate school loans), and they are perfect together!  Mike makes Krissi laugh at herself, take chances, and to be an all around happy person!  I wish she didn’t work as hard and long as she does, but perhaps we can blame that on Bed Bath and Beyond too!  Just like with Susie and me, we think this match was made in heaven, and we could not be happier!!

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To Mike’s Mom Paula and Dad Jerry, his sister Sara and her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan, welcome to the Family…but then I think you know you were part of our family already!  Saturday just makes it legal!

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Cheers to the new Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!  Mom and I love you both so much and couldn’t be happier!!!  

Three kids, three weddings, I think we’re done!

 

 

95.5, WPLJ….New York’s Best Rock!

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If you Google Irish Wake, this is what you get:

“The Irish Wake is perhaps one of the best known funeral traditions associated with Ireland. The Wake, the glorious send-off of departed loved ones, is a prominent feature of Irish funeral traditions.”

Well this pastTuesday night, at the Cutting Room on NYC’s East 32nd Street, former WPLJ VP of Programing Tom Cuddy did what Cumulus couldn’t or wouldn’t do… he hosted an incredible “Irish Wake” for a great New York radio station, and it truly was a “glorious send-off of departed loved ones”!

If you remember a blog I wrote back in March about Cumulus selling WPLJ (if you don’t remember or didn’t read it, and want to, here’s the link  https://fdthird.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/95-5-wplj/), this was something that most of us who worked at the station through the years never thought could ever happen!  Separating the AM/FM siblings was not even fathomable to us, but it happened.  Welcome to the radio business, 2019 style!

So rather than let it go out with a whimper, Tom Cuddy decided that he was going to make sure that it went out with a bang,   It was a hell of a party, attended by folks who in one way or another had been part of WPLJ in the 48 years since it’s call letters were changed to that from WABC-FM.  Having spent 40 years of my work life there at WABC and WPLJ, there were years worth of memories, and people to sort through.  It was an incredible night!

After Ubering to the city from our daughter’s apartment in Astoria, Susie and I started our night with a little pre-party at The Ginger Man on NYC’s East Side.  We called this a “70’s Party”, and the guests included folks that were at WPLJ when I got there in 1976, people that started about the same time and I did, and folks that got there shortly after I arrived.  

I’d have to say that this really is our core group, as we were all about the same age when we started at ABC.  Because we were the same age, and several in the same family situation, we not only worked together, but we socialized.  Birthday parties at work, drinks after, visits to each other’s houses, Good-bye and Batchelor Parties, Weddings, and oh yeah, working together.  It was universally agreed by Engineers, DJs, and office folks that this was indeed the best time of all our work lives!  Sometimes in my later years at ABC, when I’d complain to Susie that I kind of felt left out, when younger folks went to lunch or out for drinks after work, she’d remind me that when we all were their age, we did the exact same thing!  Point Taken!

So as it approached the 6 PM start time of the real party, we all settled up our bar bill at the Ginger Man, and started out on the 4 block walk to the Cutting Room (http://thecuttingroomnyc.com).  Because this party had been widely publicized in the radio trades in an effort to reach as many alumni as possible, you needed to email in a request to come and be put on a list. As we got to the club, there was a line of folks waiting to check in.  Of course, after working at the stations for 40 years, there were lots of folks I knew, and luckily I remembered everybody’s name!!  

After a period of mingling (there were probably 400 folks there, so there was only so much mingling and hugs that one could do), our host Tom Cuddy opened the evening’s presentations.

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Tom Cuddy…our host for the evening

The number of on-the-air people past and present that were in the house was amazing!  From the early day folks like Jimmy Fink, Jim Kerr, Carol Miller, Bob Marone, Marc Copolla, people from the middle years like Fast Jimi Roberts, AJ Hammer, Bobby Ray Rossi Vallentine, Blain Ensley, Tony Roma, to the recent past and present staff like Scott Shanon, Brad Blanks, Jimmy Diele, Chris Marino, Joe Nolan, Race Taylor, Annie, Joey Kramer, John Foxx, Robby Bridges, Mike Allan! , and others I’m sure I’m forgetting,,,please forgive me. News folks like Shelli Sonstein, Cathy Maloney,  Naomi Diclimente Salvatore, and Patti Steele.

Our friends Jimmy Fink and Jim Kerr spoke, talking about those early years of WPLJ and how they were tied to today’s WPLJ.

Scott Shannon talked about his years at PLJ during which he captained the PLJ Morning Show!

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Scott Shannon

Then Tom Cuddy brought the two longest term morning show hosts in PLJ’s history to the stage, both of who still hold forth on New York Morning Radio…just not PLJ!

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Scott, Jim, and Tom

 At one point, Tom Cuddy asked everybody in the room who’s voice had ever graced the WPLJ airwaves to come on stage!  That was a hell of a picture!

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An incredible group of voices and friends

But as many of those folks as there were, that was just a fraction of the folks in the room!  There were several past General Managers like Mitch Dolan and Steve Borneman,  production people from Jim Brownold in the 70s, to today’s Dan Kelly and Phil Micari, lots of past and present Engineering folks, Sales Folks, and office friends that kept the radio station running!  It was a wonderful night for me with so many old and new friends!

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Jim Kerr, Jimmy McGuire, Jimmy Fink…another 3 Jims!

But remember when I started, I called the gathering a great “Irish Wake”, and sadly, that’s truly what it was.  Had it not been for the sale of WPLJ by Cumulus, and the transfer of the station on June 1st, and the fact that so many of the folks that I stopped working with a little over 3 years ago will be without a job after May 31st, there would have been no reason for the party.  Like an Irish Wake, Tuesday night’s gathering was indeed, in a way, the glorious send-off of departed loved ones.  That’s a radio station, and the people that still call the 17th Floor of 2 Penn Plaza home!  

I want to end this blog by copying something I posted on Facebook the night of the party.  We spent the night at our daughter Krissi and about to be son-in-law Michael’s Astoria Apartment….they get married in just a couple of weeks on June 15th.   A little before midnight, while Susie was settling down to sleep, I was sitting on the edge of Krissi and Mike’s sleeper couch, and using my iPhone, I posted this to Facebook along with some pictures:

“I walked onto the 8th floor of the ABC Building on August 8th, 1976, and I left the 17th Floor of 2 Penn Plaza on January 29th, 2016.  Between those two dates, I had the honor of working with some wonderful radio folks at two great radio stations. Tonight, thanks to Tom Cuddy, we got to say goodbye to what will always be to me 95.5, WPLJ…New York’s Best Rock!  At the end of this month, PLJ will no longer exist as Cumulus has sold the station to a Christian Broadcaster.  It was great being with old friends,  I’ve known and worked with for over 40 years, but sad for my friends who still work there.  Thank you to the love of my life, my ever patient Susie Q who endured her husband hugging and kissing folks all night (men and women…hey, I’m Italian) and having a great time. It was a night I will long remember filled with people from my youth, and folks who are younger then my kids!!!  I love you all, but especially Susan Johnson D’Elia!!”

Good Bye WPLJ…God Speed to all the great radio people who will ride it to the end on May 31st!  You are in my heart!

All Access’s story about the party:

https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/186606/wplj-throws-gala-going-away-party-reunion-in-new-y

Some Interesting WPLJ YouTube videos..

https://youtu.be/JJiyMC1xhDs

https://youtu.be/VMEFVVYyUwk

https://youtu.be/DkXRubz2cak

https://youtu.be/B4xp02qfU14

https://youtu.be/anpeNQUZQ80

Week 2

Pardon the delay, but waited till we got back home so I could finish this on the computer rather than my IPhone!

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On Sunday morning, we woke already tied to the dock, back in Galveston, Texas.  This was the boys weekly “turn around day”, and the plan was for them to show us what they do weekly.  Just before 10, armed with our old and new Sea Pass cards, our In-Transit cards, and our passports, we worked our way off the ship, down the gangway, and through Immigration.  We were the happy people in the group, as we knew in a couple of hours, we’d be joining the Liberty again!

Once through Immigration, we met up with Kenny who told us Chris had taken off to make the long walk to a store he needed to get something from and he’d join us soon, so the 3 of us headed off to The Strand.  This is a tourist area just a couple of blocks from the port, and where the boys spend most Sundays.

Once Chris met us, it was off to their first weekly stop…a store that sells everything, including drinks!  Apparently, to sell booze on Sunday before 11 AM, you’ve also got to provide food, so a piece of a cut up hot dog was provided. Then it was to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the Mimosas.

 

After that, we headed off to their “brunch” place, a taco “stand” with about 50 beers on tap, and a very eclectic menu of gourmet type tacos.  We had some great ones, and it would be great if I had any photographic evidence, but we ate everything before I thought of it!!!  Tell me we haven’t done that before!

After lunch, we headed off to their “after-lunch Bar” with their favorite bartender Sophie, but alas, she was at a baby shower and not working!  Oh well, perhaps next Sunday.  Then it was time to walk back to the ship.

We said goodbye to the boys (they go on via a crew entrance), and with our In-Transit cards and our new Sea Pass cards already in hand, we got to skip the lines, and in not much time at all, we were back in the R Bar starting week 2 the same way as week 1!

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After another boat drill, the boys joined us on our balcony for sail-away, and then dinner in the Windjammer.  A brief stop in the casino, and then it was time for bed…we were all pooped!

Day 2 dawned sunny and warm, and on this sea day, our plan was lunch for 4 in one of the Liberty’s specialty restaurants, Sabor, Modern Mexican! We met Kenny and Chris at the restaurant at 12:30, and as usual, we were served too much food!  We didn’t eat it all, but we did our best!!

After a brief stop in the casino, Chris went off to work the ice show, Kenny retired to their cabin for some R&R, and Susie and I went to the Ice Show.   A great show, more so because it’s on a cruise ship!!

After the show, it was time to shower and dress for the Captain’s Champagne Reception on the Royal Promenade. Some free champagne, an hour spent people watching (and some is sooo good), and listening to the Captain speak.  You must admit, we did clean up well!

 

Then it was time for Chris to hit the hay, while Susie, Kenny, and I headed to Vintages Wine Bar for something a little better quality than the cheap Royal Champagne!

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We had several glasses of wine, had a nice talk with Julia who we’d met earlier in the Jewelry Shop on the Promenade, and with Remy, who works in Vintages. There are a lot of nice people who work on the Liberty, if you just take the time to meet them!!  We enjoy meeting these crew folks from all around the world. learning a bit about them and where they’re from, and hearing their experiences!

After 3 glasses on wine each (I think it was three???), a profitable visit to the casino, a couple of pieces of pizza at Sorrentos, it was time for bed, ending day 2.

 

Day 3 was Cozumel again. As you may recall, this was our only duplicate port, and since we’d had an incredible day there at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort just 4 days earlier, and since the boys had a busy day with a tech run and two performances of In the Air, Susie and I decided to stay on the ship and let them go their own way.

We started with a lazy morning, headed up to the pool deck and the adult Solarium, with our books, and a couple of Pina Coladas!  We read, we sipped, and we dozed a bit. The Liberty was quiet, with the majority of folks wandering the streets of Cozumel.  It was nice!!!

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Because the ship was so empty, just after they opened at 1, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets for lunch!!!  Great burgers!!!

 

That night, performances of In the Air, after which the boys came to unwind in our cabin.  A nice day.

We awoke the next morning, already at anchor in Grand Cayman.  There’s no pier there, so this was our only tender port of the cruise.  The water was the most incredible color blue, and we sat on our balcony watching the tenders come and go, while waiting for the boys to finish a meeting.   A short tender ride, and we were walking the streets of Grand Cayman, heading to the boys favorite lunch spot!

 

Tell me those drinks, and that background doesn’t look magical!

Then, another stop at another outdoor bar, on the way back to the port.  I’d call this more of a “dive bar”, but good drinks, great setting, and a fun atmosphere!

 

Back on the ship, the boys joined us for a small Sail-Away party on our balcony and a little champagne.  

 

I think that this was the most beautiful port we stopped at during our two weeks on the Liberty, and reminded me a lot of our several visits to Bermuda.

 

That night, while Chris was doing some Dance Captain stuff, Susie and I joined Kenny in the Star Lounge and enjoyed 4 of his fellow singers in a presentation called the Jazz Set.  Really mislabeled, as I’d call it more American Standards, we enjoyed listening to his 4 very talented friends.

 

Then we met up with Chris and after discussing where to go to have a bite, it was decided to give Johnny Rockets another shot!  Good burgers all around!  On the way out, we paused to take a photo in front of one of the art pieces on Deck 12.  A little bit of Chris’ home town of Reno, Nevada on the Liberty of the Seas!

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Our stop the next day was Falmouth, Jamaica, in a port that was created a number of years ago by Royal Caribbean for the Oasis Class ships, that were really too big to fit in other ports on the island.  Created to resemble a 15th or 16th century town, the port is full of shopping opportunities, because that, it seems, is what most folks do on a cruise.  However, we had other plans!  Our first stop, the Jamaican Beef Patty stand for a round of patties for all!  Then it was off to Margaritaville, with their potent drinks, some of their delicious food, and the pool with a swim up bar!

 

The water was cool, the sun was hot…it was a great way to spend the afternoon, before heading back to the Liberty of the Seas!

That night, it was time for Kenny to do one of his other jobs on the ship, and that was the 70’s Set on the Royal Promenade during the ship’s 70 Disco Party themed night!  Because Mom and Dad wanted to have a good view of the action, we got there about an hour and a half early, and sat at a table outside of the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Having not eaten since Margaritaville, we passed the time by having a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Promenade for dinner, along with a couple of drinks from the R Bar.  As we were waiting there, who should come along but our personal photographer Jennifer.  We called her that, because she was the only one who’d taken pictures of us on our second week, and she obliged us again and took 3 wonderful pictures, that were the only ones we bought that week!

 

We had a lovely conversation with her and discovered that although her name tag said Columbia, she was really from Venezuela, but had escaped the problems there, and called Chile home.  She would be signing off the ship after a couple of more months and told us it would be winter when she got home…a season she hasn’t seen for some time!  Another great member of the crew we were happy to get to meet!

Then, what we came for…our baby (he really is our baby….being the youngest of our 3 kids!) on the flying bridge, above a couple of thousand passengers and crew, performing with his partner about 15 minutes of songs from way before he was born!

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So much fun!!!

After Kenny changed, we met the boys down at the Schooner Bar, had a couple of drinks, and then went into the casino for a little One Armed Bandit action!  Tonight, Lady Luck was on our side, and we had a really great run on a Wheel of Fortune machine!

 

Following our stop in Jamaica, we had two sea days, our last two days of the cruise as we traveled over 1,000 miles back to the Liberty’s home port of Galveston, Texas.  

After sleeping in a bit, Susie and I had a cappuccino at the Promenade Cafe, then selected a table near Sorrento’s Pizza and waited for the Move It, Move It Parade!  Kenny joined us and we played cards for a bit, till the participants started to arrive for the big Dreamworks Cast parade all along the promenade, that Chris, as Dance Captain, coordinates.  The parade lasts about 15 minutes, and is supposed to end with Chris shooting off a confetti gun, but just before the parade started, one of the Dreamworks characters picked the gun up, and dumped all the confetti out!  

 

 

Night 6 of the cruise was our second Formal Night of the week, and since we’d cleaned up so nicely on our previous Formal Night, we decided to do it again and journey, once again to Giovanni’s for a wonderful Italian meal!  Thanks to Alex the host, and our favorite waiter Melvyn, it was another memorable night, with great food, wine, and laughs!  

As day 7 of the cruise was a busy one for the boys (a tech run of Saturday Night Fever in the morning followed by two shows of SNF that evening), following dinner, we let them head off to their cabin, while Mom and I headed back to see our friends at the Schooner bar, and have an “after dinner”  Martini or two!

 

This has really been our go to bar this week of the cruise, being the place we’ve stopped most for daytime Mai Tai’s or nighttime Martinis, with bartenders Antonio, and Francisco and waiters Alexander and Fernanda.  You know us, we like feeling like we’ve got a home, and when folks know your name, and you enjoy the conversation with them, well, that’s what makes us feel like home.  So when Antonio would say, “Susan, Frank, the usual?” we were happy!

 

After a couple of drinks, and listing to Phil at the piano bar, we decided to head back into the casino, and see if the night before had been a fluke, or if our luck was indeed on the upswing.  Well, if Lady Luck was on our side the night before, she was in our laps tonight!  Just saying…..

 

A nice way to end what had been a wonderful day!!

So, that brings us to day 7 of our cruise and our last sea day before Galveston.  This was a full day for our boys, as they prepared for tonight’s 2 shows of Saturday Night Fever, and therefore an alone day for us!  It was time to drag those 3 suitcases that had been stored under the bed in cabin 7344 for 2 weeks out, and to empty the closet and the drawers, and to prepare to leave a place that had been our home for the past 14 days.  It was a sad day because we’d had a wonderful time, and tomorrow would be the last day with Our Boys for some time, but all 4 of us knew it was also time to get back to the real world.  

So drag out those suitcases we did, and Susie packed, while I brought her the items she asked for.   In short order, we were packed and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch.  We relaxed on our balcony that afternoon, reading and honestly napping, and a little after 5, we met Kenny outside the Platinum Theater as he let us in before the doors opened for the last time.  We love watching these two on stage, seeing them both do something they love.  Hope you do too!

 

 

A little after 9:30 the next morning, we were off the ship, through Immigration, and out into a cold and damp Galveston!  The week before on turn around day, it had been sunny and in the 70s, today it was hovering right around 50!  Yikes…not the Caribbean anymore!  Our plan today was simple…once we met up with the boys, they were going to roll our suitcases to one of their Sunday hangouts while Susie and I Ubered to pick up our rental car.  That done, we drove over to the local Walmart so that they could do probably the most extensive shopping they’ll do during their time on the ship, spending close to $300!  Then we had a marvelous lunch at a place on the Galveston Sea Wall called, My Spot.  It was our last Family Meal….

 

Then it was time for Susie and I to drop the boys back at the pier, and to make our way to George Bush International Airport in Houston for our flight home to Philadelphia.  We finally arrived back on Pennlyn Place and home in Ocean City about 1:30AM, ending what had been a wonderful two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine with Our Boys!  And so ends the story of week two of Sue and Frank’s Excellent Adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, with the Fox Boys!

A couple of postscripts…

One thing Susie loved was some of the art that was featured around the ship.  Here are some of her favorites that she captured via her IPhone camera.

 

Last, but not least, even though we were in the Caribbean, we’re never really far away from our Jersey Shore home at heart, as you can see from this picture of our cabin door!

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Week One

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As I said before we started, we are doing without internet on the ship, so there will not be a detailed blow by blow description of our travels, but I’ve been taking some notes on my phone, and depending on how good the internet is in Galveston on turn around day, I hope to post some brief notes about our first week of two on the Liberty of the Seas!!

So, we’re on week one of a two week cruise around the Western Caribbean with our boys. The first two days of the cruise were sea days, the first of which was cold and rainy!   No view of Caribbean weather, so it was an inside the ship day!  The second sea day, however, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the temperature was in the 70s…beautiful!
This was also an alone day for us, as the boys had two performances of In The Air, and had a lot of prep to do during the day.  After breakfast in the Windjammer, we spent a lovely couple of hours by the Solarium pool, reading, people watching, and enjoying a couple of Pina Coladas! A little time in the casino, a little shopping,  some nap/reading time on our cabin’s balcony, and before we knew it, it was time to get ready to meet the boys to get in the theater and see 2 great performances of In The Air!
After 2 sea days, we spent today in Roatan, Honduras at Captain Jack’s Bar, perched over the water, just outside of the port!  With our Bartender Babe making incredible drinks, and their kitchen making excellent Conch Fritters, Onion Rings,  Calamari, and Plantain Chips, it was a wonderful relaxing day spent with 2 of our 6 favorite kids!  Great family time, talking about dreams and the future, it was an incredible day!  No need for zip lines, monkey farms, or swimming with dolphins! After a hug, we told Babe we’d see her in 6 months when we’re back. She said she’d be looking for us!!
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Today we are in Mexico…Costa Maya to be exact. Susie and I were last here 2 and a 1/2 years ago, and had a wonderful beach day with the boys.  This year, however, the boys have to work, so different plans are called for. Tonight they do two performances of Saturday Night Fever (6 and 8:45 PM), and on days like this, they also have a “tech run” in the morning, so a busy day for them. We’ve decided that we’re just going to get off the ship and hang around the dock area.  As I write this, Susie and I are waiting for the boys in our cabin, and preparing for the 1/2 mile walk down the pier from  the ship to the land!!!  Yes, a full 1/2 mile of pier between the ship and Costa Maya!  It’s a definite knee brace day!
There were 4 cruise ships in Costa Maya today, so the pier was crowded. The boys took us to a favorite burrito place and we had a couple of great ones, before heading back to the ship.  The walk was long, but we stopped a couple of times to look at the incredibly blue water!  Back on the ship, we said bye to the boys, and both groups went to relax.
Right now, Susie and I are sitting in the Platinum Theater waiting for the start of the first performance of Saturday Night Fever. Our night ahead?? Two performances of SNF, a drink or two, and then meeting up with the boys after the shows.  Nothing better than seeing Kenny and Chris on stage!!  This is the 7th and 8th time we’ve seen this production of SNF, and I tell you it just keeps getting better, and we’re not of that opinion because 2 of the cast members are part of our family!!! The audience LOVED the show, meanwhile we shed a tear or two of joy, watching our kids doing what they love!!!  Life is very good tonight!!
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Welcome to Cozemul , Mexico!  Port  #3 on this week’s cruise, and the only port we visit twice during our two weeks on the Liberty of the Seas.  We’ve just gotten back from a wonderful day at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort, where for a $65 Day Pass, we had an incredible day of food, drink, and pool life!  Thanks to Miguel and Santiago, we never wanted for ANYTHING!!!
We’re back on the ship now, sitting on our balcony having a rum and coke and watching our larger sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas leave the dock.  Our lines are being dropped now and we will soon follow her. Next stop…Galveston, Texas, after a sea day tomorrow!!  The end is near for most folks, but for us, just the beginning of week 2!!
Last night we had an incredible dinner in Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant.   Thanks to Manager Alex, waiter Marvyn,  and the magicians in the kitchen, it was a magnificent dinner, and we all loved it….and may have eaten too much!!!
Today is a sea day, and the last day of the cruise for most…but not us, as we start the adventure all over again!!!  Susie and I slept in a bit, then went to the Windjammer for breakfast, then spent an hour plus watching people trying to master the Flowrider!

Then we met up with Kenny outside Sorrento’s on the Promenade Deck to watch the Move it Parade,  orchestrated by our other son Chris!!!  Good job Chris..well, except when Shreck almost went flying, but all’s well that ends well!!
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We spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of our drink package at various venues around the ship. Changed for the night, had a couple of glasses of wine at Vintages, and then finished up with a martini with our friend Silbert at the R Bar.

Tonight, a late dinner and room service ala Chris and Kenny!  Burgers with Sriracha Peanut Butter, etc.  a fitting way to end week one of our latest adventure!!!
See you next week, when we sail to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica!!

Another Saturday Night in OC

If you read our recent multi-part story about how, why, and when we ended up being retired in Ocean City, you may remember it said, “We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew.  We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbor’s houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fundraisers.”   Those Saturday Night dinners I spoke of,  are an important part of our Ocean City life. While some weeks it will be 3 or 4 of us going out, some weeks it can be as many as 12 or 14.  Some weeks it’s just us, and some weeks, friends will bring friends and relatives and our group expands.  While we do go out a lot, many weeks we will get together at another’s house.  It can be a planned dinner, a pot luck, or an impromptu “order take out” night. All things being equal, just about every Saturday, some members of our group will be together.

Here’s a selection of some past Saturdays!

Having said that, let me tell you about a recent Saturday, where a number of us headed out to Carmen’s in Sea Isle City, for their last night of the season, and what they call their “Carmen’s Belly Buster”.  We’d been there only once, earlier in the year, and our waitress made a point of telling us about the Belly Buster night, and it peaked our interest.    Our good friend Denise called and made a reservation, and worked out transportation, and on Saturday October 20th, it was indeed Another Saturday Night…but this time in Sea Isle City! 

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The funny thing is that the Saturday before, we’d also been with Denise and her husband Chris, and our friends Patti and Meade, but that was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada!  It was great having some of our Ocean City Family with us at Kenny and Chris’ wedding, and it was a Saturday night, and yes, we did end up in our room after the close of the wedding!  On the side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the shore of Lake Tahoe, a Saturday is a Saturday for our Ocean City Family!!

But let me get back to Carmen’s and The Belly Buster!  The place seemed very festive when we got there with large groups of folks at tables on the outside deck.  It was a little chilly (Denise wore my jacket) but they did have side curtains and most of us were fine.  We started at a tight table, but then asked, and they moved us to a great octagonal table, where we had lots of room and we all could see each other!  Lucky they did!

The meal started with a hot crab chowder and a nice salad.  Then pass-around fried sea food (shrimp, scallops, clams, etc).  Dale and Denise are not seafood eaters, but there were several Chicken dishes in the next round of pass-arounds.  Then they lowered the boom on us with the Main Attraction of the evening!!

 

While we’d seen other tables with big disposable pans of mixed sea food, we somehow got the mother lode, pilled high in a huge fancy bowl!  Not quite sure why we got singled out, but we did end up on their web site, so I’m thinking we got the “display” portion!  Here’s that picture!

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It was loaded with clams, mussels, crab legs, and at least 4 lobsters!  Oh My God!  By no means did we eat it all, but we tried!

There was lots of laughs that night as we ate and drank our way through dinner (it is a BYOB), but there was still about half left (mostly mussels and clams) when we’d had our fill, and they wanted us to take it with us.  Nobody at our table was interested, so we passed it off to a lady at the table behind us!  She may still be dining on our leftovers!

It really doesn’t matter what we do, or where we do it.  What matters is that we are together, having fun.  Family Chosen is a Great Thing!

THE WEDDING WEEKEND

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I posted this the morning after the wedding on Facebook.  

“It was the wedding weekend of the decade, perhaps even of the century, as Christopher Fox and Kenneth D’Elia became one!  The love from the family and friends, the months and months of planning, the perfect location, the perfect mix, just came together and turned out exactly as they dreamed.  The talent from all their performing friends, and even from ones in law school,  just ramped up the energy level!  It was like being right in the middle of a Broadway Show, but YOU were a part of it!  Susie and I are so happy that Chris is officially our 3rd son now, and that Our Boys will go through life as partners, sharing the good, the great, and sometimes the not so great!  Love….the word for the weekend!”

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So, when we last left you, it was Wednesday and we were having a fun family day, visiting Virginia City, then stopping at the Western Reserve Casino, winning some money, and then venturing out that night for the boy’s Reno Batchelor Party.  

Thursday was our last day for pre-wedding tasks, before the group moved up to Lake Tahoe.  Susie and I started our day hitting the AAA to replace the maps we’d lost in LA, and then it was time for our second trip of the week to Costco.  A few incidentals we’d realized we needed, and 5 cases of white wine they hadn’t had at Trader Joe’s!  Then I dropped Susie off at Lucky Nails, near David and Lexi’s, so she could get good “Mother of the Groom” nails.  While she was there, I hit Walmart again, and then filled the car with gas.  We ended our separate tasks at just about the same time, and then headed over to David and Lexi’s to drop off the wine.  While Susie got busy in their kitchen and made Mac Salad Kenny had requested for the Friday night party, I headed back downtown to pick up the boys, so they could buy shirts and shoes for the wedding.  After everything was done, we had a nice early family dinner at Lexi and David’s house (you know, these people must be tired of the sight of us!), before heading back to Harrahs Reno, and the arrival of the East Coast gang!

Our daughter Krissi, her fiancé Mike, Mineola friends Manny and Kristen, Annie friend Kelly, and Jainesville Armory Friends Erica and Shayla were all arriving that night! It was late, but they wanted to gamble, so after everybody had made it from the airport to the hotel, Mom and Dad took their leave after an hour or so, and let the kids party!!  Kenny was so glad his “peeps” were in town!   

Friday morning, Kenny and Chris came by and picked up our bags, so they could be loaded in the trailer David had rented to transport luggage to Lake Tahoe.  About 10AM, Susie, Krissi, Mike and I headed up to the lake, after one more stop at Costco…this time to pick up the appetizer platters we’d ordered earlier.  It was a beautiful morning for our drive up to Tahoe, with incredible scenery. We were just down the road from the hotel, when Kenny texted us, “where are you?”  The boys had just about had it when the tent people asked them where the tent permit was?  Tent permit?  Huh?   Why didn’t you get that if you needed it?  Oh boy!  Just what they didn’t need…another wrinkle!

They needed the Fire Marshal, but he was off that day.  Phone calls were made, Megan and Shayla headed into town for a personal touch, and the rest of us hung with Kenny, keeping him as calm as could be.  He got us checked in, we unloaded the trays from Costco into the fridge in our room, and we waited for the rest of the group to show up.   When they did, there was a lot to unload, and luckily lots of bodies to help.  Decorations were scattered around the Inn, lights were strung, tables set up for the Friday night Welcome Party,  and after some accommodation from the Fire Marshall, the tent started going up!!!  YES!

Okay, now here’s one from the small world department…one of the kids on the tent company crew grew up in Ocean City, and his folks still live about 8 blocks away from us!  You just never know!  Like the time a couple of years ago, when a waitress in a Las Vegas Italian restaurant told us that she’d grown up on Delancey, around the corner from us, and that her first waitress job was at Ove’s on the boardwalk!  Yes it is indeed a small world!

The rest of the day was filled with folks arriving, lots of hugs and kisses, and breaking into the wedding booze supplies (5 cases each of white wine, red wine, rose wine, and champagne, a keg of Icky, and about 150 assorted cans of beer).   

As it started to get dark, the Welcome Party food started to go on the BBQ’s.  Burgers, Italian hot sausages, chicken sausages, accompanied by chips and dip.  Grandma Jerri’s Salsa (with the secret ingredient of black olives), and her Nuts and Bolts (think really good homemade Chex Mix) were a hit on the munchie table.  Remember the macaroni salad that Susie made on Thursday?  The unequaled hit of the food stuffs of the weekend!!  If Susie had a nickel for every time she told people what was in it, we could play a slot machine!

Oh by the way, the parents were in the Squirrel House, and this was the view from our room.  Not bad, huh? 

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After food, it was time to carry some wine down to the fire pit, listen to some music that DJ Rickie provided (he did a GREAT job Friday and Saturday, drink, talk, laugh, and have a wonderful evening!  

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, and as the day went on, it just got warmer!  The boys had been shined on by the Wedding Gods, and their special day was Beautiful!!  A little before 1, guests were called into their places, the Wedding Party assembled in our room, and the wedding was on.  Here are some pics!

By the way, this was the backdrop for the wedding. 

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The cocktail hour started immediately following the “I Do’s”, while good friends Shayla and Megan expedited the taking of family photos.  

Then we all moved into the tent for the actual reception, including introducing the Wedding Party, the Grooms, their first dance, plus the Mom and Groom Dances.

Then it was meal time, as catered by Famous Dave’s BBQ!

After dinner, we had time for some more pics, as we assembled important people into groups. 

Then it was time to move to the dance floor…and did this group dance!!

 

Then, the talent portion of the evening, as DJ Ricky fired up the karaoke machine!  Boy, was there talent, as the boys performing and non-performing friends alike, put on an incredible show, amazing EVERYBODY!

 

Included in the “performers” was Kenny’s older brother Bill, who did a spot on Ice Ice Baby!  Who knew!!

Then the dancers took center stage again till the 10PM quiet time!  

It was a hell of a night!!

The last picture I took that night was of David and Kim Fox!  David is Chris’ Dad and Kim is David’s sister and Chris’ Aunt.  We met Kim Monday, and quickly fell in love! She is one kick ass lady who always was there for whatever you needed!  From Costco trips, to unloading the car, from laughing together, to showing you where the booze was kept.  All our OC friends fell in love too, and have made her promise to come visit!

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We gathered in our room with friends, rather than climb all the way down the hill to the fire pit.  Lucky for us, as the newly married couple saw the local bear in the dumpster as they were coming back to their room…right above us!  

Sunday was cooler, but still nice and the day when most folks headed hom

By the end of the day, few were left beyond immediate family, including our partners in crime for the week, David and Lexi Fox!

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How can I nicely say it, Susie and I all but moved into David and Lexi’s house the week leading up to the wedding!  We ate, drank, danced, hugged, and truly became family!  We are so happy that these people are in our lives, and that we are officially Family!  Kenny is a Fox and we are Foxes once removed!  Who’s Luckier than US??

Oh, by the way, the youngins went down again to hang Sunday night, and again there was a bear sighting.  Once in the dumpster, then the bear headed towards the Squirrel House, where we were staying, where the boys fed it the remains of a “bear claw” they were eating.  The next morning we saw the remains.  A pawed through garbage can, and a broken light up bottle, which had been used a decorations. Good night Bear!  

Okay..due to upload issues and a desire to enjoy our last days of this trip, you’ll have to wait till we get back to Ocean City for the Rest of the Story!  Can’t wait to get back to my Mac Air and our Comcast internet speed.  See you then!!!