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Dishing with Dee: Queens Theater in the Park plays host to award ceremony

Were you all glad or sorry that the horrendous storm predicted for our area stopped and fizzled out when it hit New Jersey? For those of you who were sorry, be of good cheer as the weather forecasters are predicting another storm of the same ferocity this week. For those of you who were glad we missed the storm, you had better think about getting your snow shovels, mittens and scarves ready for this week’s storm.

Having rather smugly bragged I had gone through almost the entire winter without a cold, guess who’s sitting here in misery right now? I guess it was just my turn to be knocked for a loop. I’m not quite sure if it was a terrible cold or a mild case of the flu. How do you tell the difference? But whatever it was it seems to be on the wane, thank goodness.

The most impressive event we covered this week was the annual awards and networking event “Rising Stars” Thursday at Queens Theater in the Park. This was the second edition of “Rising Stars” which is to be produced annually. In fact, a few of my friends were honored this year. The ones who come to mind are Sal Bacarella, City Councilman Eric Ulrich, state Assemblyman Jose Peralta and, the youngest member of the group, the son of my friend Brandon Elias.

They had a special classification for him, naming him Rookie Rising Star, which is fitting as Brandon is only 17 and a high school senior. His father is Heskell Elias. Brandon is proof the apple does not fall far from the tree.

While I do not know this lady well, I have heard so many good things about her that she is well on her way as another Rising Star. Her name is Nayelli DiSpaltro and she is the associate director of Queens Theater in the Park. Jeff Rosenstock, the QTIP director, said he doesn’t know how QTIP could get along without her.

There was another special award called the Person of the Year Award given to Mary Papas for her expert handling of the H1N1 outbreak that originated at St. Francis Prep. Mary has been a nurse for over 27 Years, seven of which has been spent as the school nurse at St. Francis. In fact, Mary was a graduate of St. Francis. Congratulations to Mary along with all the awardees.

In the first “Rising Stars” group, a few of my other friends were recognized as well. They were Steven Chen, Melva Miller, Austin Shafran and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

The event was presented by American Airlines, the major sponsor was TD Bank and everyone was welcomed by Victoria Schneps-Yunis, who introduced each person and presented that person with a trophy. All in all it was a fun evening and good to see our many talented young people being recognized as well. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg took time out to stop by and congratulate this year’s winners.

Sunday evening was the last day of the wake for Frank Justich, a longtime city Sanitation Department worker and an 11-year resident of Whitestone, which was held at the Hatton Funeral Home in Bayside. It was standing room-only at the wake.

On Monday morning, the funeral mass was held in St. Luke’s Church in Whitestone. St. Luke’s was also overcrowded, causing the attendees to spill out onto the steps and the surrounding street. Justich was apparently well-known, well-liked and respected. It seemed as if the entire area had turned out. I cannot remember the last time a crowd of that magnitude turned out.

All the excitement this week seems to be directed toward the Weprin-Friedrich race in the 24th State Assembly District. Most of the wiser heads than mine have indicated that it’s going to be too close to predict the winner with any certainty. Good luck, guys!

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I like receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Till next week, Dee.

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