By Keith S. Shikowitz
On October 18, 2018, the North Rockland Lions and Rotary Clubs sponsored the third annual ‘A Taste of North Rockland.’ Eighteen different restaurants from the North Rockland area showed samples of their stuff at the West Haverstraw Community Center.
Approximately 115 guests got a chance to try foods from these restaurants. Three years ago, West Haverstraw Mayor Robert D’Amelio was approached by the North Rockland Rotary and Lions Clubs who reached out to the village to host the event. “We don’t say no to nobody,” D’Amelio said with a smile. “They tried to find a place to host the event but couldn’t decide on a location. None of the restaurants wanted to host it and it would have been unfair to have one restaurant host it.”
“The community center is neutral ground. No one has an advantage.” said Katie Welsh, assistant to Mayor D’Amelio. “It also gives people a chance to try other places they may not have tried. It’s worth the visit.”
Tickets for the event were $35 per person. Additional money was raised through some raffles. “Each charity gets $1,000 and the rest is split between the Rotary and Lions Clubs,” said Paul Piperato Rockland County Clerk.
Michael Grant, president of the North Rockland Rotary Club, and Jack Ciarmella, president of the North Rockland Lions, the sponsors of the event, voiced the same sentiment about the event. “The event raises money for good causes and people get to sample a lot of good food,” they said, adding that they were both very happy at the turnout.
The event is designed to raise money for charitable causes. This year, Keep Rockland Beautiful and the Stony Point Seals were the beneficiaries of the money raised. “This is our first time here and I’m pleasantly surprised at this wonderful event,” said Sonya Cairo of Keep Rockland Beautiful. “This is a very diverse community. It has that small-town feeling and a strong sense of service to that community. We appreciate that they see the value in what we do for the community.”
This sentiment was repeated by John Fox, a board member for the Stony Point Seals. “We help raise money for families who have suffered catastrophic illness,” he said. “When these things happen, the medical expenses skyrocket and everything suffers, especially the family’s finances. We help these families in need.”
One of their events is a parity of the Polar Bear Plunge—a yearly “Dip in the Hudson River” on Superbowl Sunday. A Taste of North Rockland is their yearly kickoff event fundraiser day. “We do it for the novelty of it,” Fox stated. They also do a T-shirt sponsorship in which, for a donation of $100, you get to be on a shirt. The shirts sell for $20. Fox emphasized that they like to keep it simple and praised the generosity from the unbelievable community year after year. All of the people who work for the Seals are volunteers.
The myriad of food at the event ranged from burgers from The Filling Station to Puerto Rican food from Don Coqui. Other foods included Italian fare from Pasta Cucina and the Italian Food Center, oriental food from Unicorn Asian Sushi Hibachi & Bar and bar food from the Blarney Stone Publik House, the Copper Still, and the new Hudson’s Mill Tavern. Other restaurants represented at the event included Gilligan’s Seafood, Hudson Water Club, Lynch’s Restaurant, Mt. Ivy Café, Planet Wings, Playa Cancun, Tacos Marianita and Union Restaurant. Vilma’s Bakery supplied the pumpkin cupcakes and other desserts.
Clarkstown Town Judge Howard Gerber, who said he never comes over the mountain, was a first-time attendee at the event. “They’re raising money for good causes,” he said.
Additionally, there were many current and past heads of local government and non-governmental organizations in attendance. Two of these past people are Maureen Corallo, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Sal, the chair of the Rockland Legislature and the Planning Commission. “We have both been very active in the county for the 49 years we have lived here,” Mrs. Corallo stated. “This is our third year coming and we always eat too much.”
County Judge Larry Schwartz summed up the general sentiment about the event. “It’s a good community event and it’s good to see the North Rockland Lions and Rotary come together for the event.”