LIVINGSTON, NJ — A St. Patrick’s Day-themed member appreciation luncheon at the West Essex YMCA on Thursday featured an assortment of refreshments—including classic corned beef sandwiches—entertainment, musical trivia and more.
According to Associate Executive Cheryl Francione, the “St. Paddy’s Day” theme gives the Y the perfect excuse to hold these festivities annually around the holiday.
“At the Y, we celebrate and enjoy each other, whenever the opportunity arises,” she said. “It’s not just about exercise—it’s about sharing our stories, our interests and our cultural backgrounds. Simply put, our members and our staff enjoy spending quality time together.”
The entertainment included an array of music from the 50’s and 60’s, presented by Y member Ron Farber, who has a long history in the music and entertainment business.
There was also a surprise visit from Michael Condon, a West Caldwell resident and Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh bagpiper, who arrived in his kilt to play the bagpipes for the crowd of almost 80 members and guests.
Condon learned to play the bagpipes a little more than two years ago in honor of his cousin, Brendan Tevlin, a Livingston resident and fellow bagpiper who died in June 2014 after being fatally shot in West Orange. Francione said Tevlin’s spirit will always live on within the West Essex community because of people like Condon.
Condon said he has only played at a few events on his own, so he was enthusiastic about the opportunity to get more experience. In this case, Condon was especially excited to see his grandparents as well as his aunt and uncle enjoying the lunch as he played.
“Everyone at the lunch seemed so excited to see a bagpiper walking in there today,” he said. “This time of the year is awesome. This is my second parade season and it is so much fun playing in parades, parade tours and different events all month long.”
Y members in attendance played musical trivia and won prizes throughout the afternoon. They were also introduced to the sport of Pickleball by Y member Michael Garber, who is known throughout the Livingston community as “Livingston Pickleball’s CEO.” He said Pickleball is the game for people of all ages and skill levels.
“We enjoy creating an environment where our members can experience it all: good food, great company, entertainment, education and, of course, get their healthy exercise, too,” said Executive Director Helen Flores. “Our Y is so much more than just a gym and a pool. It’s a place where people know that they are valued and can feel that they belong.”