Everybody was Irish for the day at the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Irish Heritage luncheon.
Even former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was the guest speaker at the event, was in the Irish spirit at the Thursday, March 8, event held at F and J Pine Tavern on Bronxdale Avenue.
Bronx Chamber of Commerce president Lenny Caro opened the lunch after a small press conference with Giuliani.
The chamber president welcomed guests and praised staff, without whom events like the luncheon would not be possible.
The national Anthem was sung by Caitlin Snyder of Mercy College, followed by the Invocation by Fr. Richard Gorman.
Before the introduction of the honorees, John Calvelli, from the Wildlife Conservation Society related the opening of Congo Exhibit at the Bronx Zoo during the Giuliani administration and presented then-Mayor Giuliani with a picture of himself dressed as a lion at the event.
The honorees included Chris Lemmon, son of two-time Oscar-winning actor Jack Lemmon; president and CEO of the Hutchinson Metro Center, Joseph Kelleher; Fr.Richard Gorman; general manager of the Pelham & Split Rock Golf Course, Elizabeth Barker Pinapfel; regional executive of Capital One Bank, John Habermann; and Barry Fitzgerald of F & F Insurance.
Honorees received plaques and certificates.
Giuliani spoke about a variety of different subjects, including what it was like to be mayor during the September 11 attacks, his days as U.S. attorney, energy in New York City, and the heritage of Irish immigrants in America.
“If I think about Irish heritage I think of New York City immediately,” said Giuliani. “If I think about any one city in this country that has been built more or shaped more by any one group, it has been the Irish. This city is physically built, to a large extent, by Irish immigrants. Its traditions of public service and its police department, its fire department, and all of its city services and agencies were really set by the Irish.”
Giuliani also spoke about the jailing his first group of several big Italian criminals.
“We were in the restaurant for about fifteen minutes and it looked like the scene in ‘The Godfather” with captain and the Turk,” Giuliani said. “And all of a sudden the radio was on and the announcer said it had been reported that a contract has been issued by Sicilian mafia on the life of U.S. attorney and the contract was for $800,000 and the FBI is really concerned about it. Well this was true, but it had happened two months earlier and two weeks prior the people who wanted to kill me were thrown in jail, here and in Italy. It was old news, so I knew it was over and I was very comfortable about it so I paid no attention to it. But, all of sudden the restaurant started to empty out, the owner is rushing our food, and my two friends are sweating, and I just stared to laugh. About 10 minutes into this I started to laugh and explained it to them, then, the owner comes over to us and says you tell us that now?”
“I just want to congratulate the Bronx Chamber on this wonderful event,” Giuliani said. “And also on all of the wonderful work they do for the Bronx, which is, after all, very close to my heart. I went to college here and the single most important site, in New York City is in the Bronx, one of the most sacred and most important, Yankee Stadium.”