Parkchester reunions brings 500 plus to Brewski’s

Albie Torressen (c) with fellow friends from the Parkchester community during the reunion.
Photo courtesy of Brewski’s Bar & Grill

A Parkchester reunion for the ages brought former Bronxites back to the borough in droves.

On Saturday, May 19, members from the old and new Parkchester came back together.

Though the forecast of the day called for heavy rain, it did not deter the over 500 Parkchester natives who flocked to Brewski’s Bar & Grill for the chance to hang out with childhood pals.

“Some of the attendees hadn’t seen each other in decades,” said Brewski’s owner, Parkchester native and event organizer, Albie Torressen.

An extra long tent pitched in the lot behind Brewski’s kept the rain away, live music was played all night long, and everyone caught up on the years they missed in each other’s lives.

“Some guests needed almost three hours to get through the tent because they kept stopping to talk to more people,” said Brian Torressen.

However unhitched the event turned out to be, the reunion was not planned over night or even over a week.

Albie and his son Brian explained the day was a culmination of a year’s worth of planning and tracking down as many people from the community as they could.

Their method of finding everyone: Facebook.

“The younger generations are more active on social media,” said Brian Torressen. “But trying to track down the 50 to 75-year-olds was a tremendous effort.”

Brian explained finding the older age groups was even more difficult because all they had at their disposal were old photographs to try to match Facebook profile photos to.

“It was a labor of love,” said Albie on the challenges of putting the reunion together, though he added he and his son did not act alone.

The idea for the reunion was conceived while Albie was hanging out with some of his Parkchester friends that still live in the area.

With the help of their friends Robert Cardone, Debbie Hill Griffo, and the staff at Brewski’s, the team started working out the details of the event.

The Parkchester reunion generated so much buzz that on the day of the event some people even flew in from as far away as California and the United Kingdom.

“This event was so important to some people they cancelled prior engagements to come,” said Brian.

One of the musicians who performed that evening, Parkchester native Tim Curtin, cancelled three wedding jobs just to play for his childhood friends, according to Brian.

While most of the night was jovial, part of the evening included a slideshow of photos of those in the community who passed away.

Seeing the faces of lost loved ones allowed some of the guests to mourn together, which was especially important because there were guests who did not know of their old friends’ passing.

“We host school reunions all the time, but to do it for a community is really special,” said the Brewski’s owner.

A portion of the proceeds made from the reunion will be donated to a veteran’s organization, which has not yet been determined, according to Albie.

Albie, Brian and their friends hope to host another Parkchester reunion in the future.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.

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