City Island holds emotional reunion

Residents of City Island held a reunion for past and present islanders that filled Ambrosini Ballfields and Playground for two days.

The City Island Reunion – An Event for All Ages, held on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22, brought together former islanders from across the country with friends, neighbors, and family that they had not seen in years. The event drew crowds of close to 1,000 people.

Bob Carmody, a City Island resident and businessman who helped organize the event, which included performances from local musicians and plenty of food, said that Facebook helped bring people together to make the reunion possible. The social networking site was were the organizers connected with friends and former neighbors who are still live on City Island.

“Former City Islander Lynn McCluskey helped put it together, and she was the coordinator,” Carmody said. “The entertainment coordinator was Charlie DiMaggio. I have put together parades and parties at the field for the City Island Little League, so I was brought in as a co-coordinator.”

People who grew up on different blocks in the community gathered together and took pictures. Others who attended P.S. 175 and graduated in the same years were reunited, as were boys and girls, now grown up, who played together on the same basketball and baseball teams.

City Island Civic Association president Bill Stanton said that the reunion highlighted the community at its best. In fighting for a better quality of life, Stanton said that he hopes to make City Island a top destination for both recreation and future residents. He was inspired to see neighbors who have not seen each other in 25 or 35 or 45 years brought together by the event.

“This is the City Island that many people remember,” Stanton said at the reunion. “It is with the same type of energy and spirit that we have here that we need to go to work to improve the island. If we could replicate the spirit of the organizers and the participants of this reunion, we could become the number one recreation destination and the number one residential community in the area.”

Attending the event were Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca. Benedetto remembered that when he was a college student, he would often visit the island, and recognized a lot of people from those days.

Islander Tommy Vivolo, who is a born and bred “clam digger,” said that the reunion showed how strong the community is today.

“I think the significance of the reunion is that it shows what a great community we had growing up, and that it is still the kind of place people want to come back to,” Vivolo said.

“Not every neighborhood could pull that off. It makes me proud because it shows that I when I chose to stay here, it was for a reason.”

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