WEST ORANGE, NJ - The 2013 Annual Community Thanksgiving Luncheon was held on November 27 at Mayfair Farms and presented by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club International, Rotary International, and Unico National. Over 120 members of the beloved service organizations, township and school district officials, and the business community attended the yearly event.
Members of the West Orange High School, under the direction of Lew Kelly, performed as guests arrived.
Lou LaSalle of St. Barnabas was the Event Chairperson and Master of Ceremonies. Alexandra Vecchio sang the national anthem. Monsignor Joseph Petrillo of Our Lady of Lourdes gave the invocation and benediction.
Paul Petigrow, President of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, welcomed guests.
Mayor Robert Parisi shared his thoughts on thankfulness, noting how no one thought of how good things were on 9/10 or the day before Hurricane Sandy. "The township has been through a lot the past few years," he said, "but we've come through it."
Frank D'Maio, President of West Orange Unico, which has recently merged with Orange Unico, introduced the guest speaker, Ed Lucas.
Ed Lucas is a long-time sportswriter that has covered the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, and other professional teams in the New York area for over fifty years. He is an emmy winning broadcaster that was mentored by Phil Rizzuto as a young man.
Lucas has also been blind since he was struck between the eyes with a baseball soon after watching Bobby Thomson hit the 'shot heard 'round the world' in the New York Giants 1952 pennant win against the Dodgers.
He shared his experiences of finding his way and adapting to life as a blind person while pursuing his love of baseball and how struggles and difficulties did not define him. His encouragement that 'everyone can be a hall of famer' if they have love and are loved, touched the audience, along with his humor.
The luncheon concluded with the 50/50 drawing, which was donated to the Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry.
The next scheduled event is the Mayor's Annual Breakfast on January 29, 2014.