PARSIPPANY, NJ - On November 9th, Lake Hiawatha residents and veterans, while celebrating the weekend for Veterans Day, found themselves enjoying an evening involving classic music and Italian food. For at the American Legion Post 249, a special dinner, known Sinatra/Pasta Night, was organized by legionaries.

“We do events like this all year,” said Michele Silver, a Boonton resident and president of the American Legion Auxiliary.

“The monies we raised from this event and other activities are for veterans and the families that support them. It also goes to Lyons Hospitals in East Orange and Bedminster, which has disabled veterans. We also do provide scholarships and conduct coat drives.”

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Back in October, the legion held a Country Night, where attendants were treated to country music, along with pulled chicken, pulled pork, brisket and salads.

But for this November evening, over 50 people enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, cooked by the ladies of the Auxiliary. Salads were provided after being donated by Parsippany’s Best Pizza, and bread donated by Calandra’s Bakery, from Fairfield. Not to mention, the bar was open for all in attendance, looking for a beer, while watching football or shooting pool.

“This is first time we’re doing it, but it’s going to great,” said John Deluccia, a legionary of 35 years and bar chairman, from Lake Hiawatha, who served.

“The Ladies Auxiliary helps out a lot around the legion. And when I see all these people come out for our events, I feel wonderful. I love the music the most!”

And the music of Frank Sinatra was provided by professional singer Garrad Perry, from Ridgewood. Perry has been singing for five years at events such as weddings and for the Knights of Columbus, but this was his first time at Lake Hiawatha’s American Legion.

“This is fantastic,” said Perry.

“I love doing shows at these fundraisers. When I got here, they brought me a drink and I feel like I belong here!”

While he dressed up and sang like Sinatra, Perry also acted like a DJ, providing more musical variety such as other oldies from the Rat Pack, jazz and of course Italian. When everyone wasn’t eating or drinking at the bar, some even got up and shook their legs on the dance floor.

“Sinatra/Pasta Night was excellent,” said Teresa Mitchell, Parsippany resident and Auxiliary member.

“We have a nice turnout, and everyone is having a great time. We make a lot of money to honor the veterans.”

By the evening’s end, the legion was able to collect a total of $850. The Sinatra/Pasta Night also came at a time when the legion was recognizing the 100th anniversary of the American Legion Auxiliary. Silver further pointed out that events like this is also a way to find new legion members; a task that has been getting harder to do in recent years.

“We try to keep the legion going,” said Silver.

“Nowadays, less people are joining their posts because they’re more about their own houses and families, and our older members are dying off. Everything here at Sinatra/Pasta Night goes completely to the post. Without these events, the legion wouldn’t exist.”

Later, on December 8th, from 12-3 p.m., the legion intends to hold a Toys for Tots event at their facilities, located on 91 North Beverwyck Road. Kids and parents are invited to not only donate to the toy drive, but there will also be other family-fun activities, such as arts n’ crafts, and a decorate your own dessert table. Lunch will be provided with hot dogs, mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets. Not to mention, there will a visit from Santa Claus!

“It’s nice to see everyone getting together and having a good time, while supporting the legion,” said Silver.

To learn more about the Parsippany American Legion Post 249, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AL.NJ.249.org/.