The 37th Annual Neptune Ball: A Dazzling Night Under the Stars in Snug Harbor—Celebration, Support…and Perfect Weather

STATEN ISLAND, NY – George Segal and his banjo joined Marvin Hamlisch on a grand piano for a set of vocal standards.

Julie Budd introduced some crowd favorites and the late Anita Morris, straight from her Broadway triumph in “Nine,” took the stage and begged the Hamlisch-Segal duo for an encore.

It was the first Snug Harbor Neptune Ball and it was at the Staten Island Mall.

The year was 1984.

At the 37th Annual Neptune Ball at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Friday evening, Mark Lauria, Chairman of the Board of Snug Harbor, and Brian Laline, Advance Editor and Secretary of the Board of Snug Harbor, talked about the ball. origins and this magnificent period in the history of The Harbour.

They recalled how Norma D’Arrigo and former Borough President and longtime Snug Chairman Ralph Lamberti were the backbone of the Neptune Ball.

“Together they worked through the days when Snug was fighting mightily to keep this gem of a place alive and funded,” Lauria said. “Those are the reasons we are here tonight. The Neptune Ball was born around a kitchen table in Ralph’s home in West Brighton when he and Norma brainstormed ways to raise money to keep the roofs fixed and the heating on.

Back then, Norma D’Arrigo developed a unique method to improve her fundraising ability. Dinners would be held throughout Staten Island at private homes, restaurants, the governor’s house at The Harbor and the Richmond County Country Club.

Lauria added, Ralph chaired and Norma was master host for the private dinners leading up to the mall gala.

“That was the challenge. Movers and shakers were invited to hold private dinner parties before everyone headed to the mall. Sixty couples volunteered.

The idea for the ball, the first major fundraiser for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, was conceived by Lamberti, then borough vice president Tony Gaeta. Lamberti was the first prom president. As Borough President and later as Chairman of the Snug Harbor Board of Trustees and Executive Vice President of Staten Island University Hospital, he remained active in planning for the event.

Norma D’Arrigo, one of Snug Harbor’s first volunteers, said the first-ever Neptune Ball — with all its glamor — showed officials from the city’s Department of Parks and Cultural Affairs that the Staten Islanders were taking Snug Harbor very seriously.

Laline noted, “It was a freezing night in January 1984 when Ralph – the Staten Island borough vice president at the time – assembled 60 of Staten Island’s movers and shakers. He and Norma wanted to share a fundraising idea with them…Norma and Ralph thought it was time to spruce up our borough fundraisers. A gala that would feature Staten Islanders, of course, but also celebrities from Manhattan.

He explained Lamberti’s impact on Snug couldn’t be properly explained at last night’s event. “Through his roles as borough vice president and borough president, he made sure everyone in city government knew about Snug Harbour,” he said. “If anyone deserves the moniker “Leading Lights of Snug Harbor” it’s Ralph Lamberti and Norma D’Arrigo, whose vision and work have made The Harbor a vibrant cultural hub and a premier national restoration project. plan.”

For their long service to Snug Harbor, D’Arrigo and Lamberti received the Snug Harbor Lifetime of Service Award.


Fast forward 38 years and the 37th Annual Neptune Ball made its grand entrance on Friday night, an evening where the spotlight shines brightly on patrons of arts and culture who come out to party and celebrate the beauty of our gem. culture of the North Shore.

Dubbed Staten Island’s biggest night, the gala played to a sold-out crowd and saw revelers — dressed to impress in their summer finery — raise their glasses to Snug Harbor’s future prosperity.

The evening of camaraderie, community spirit and creativity gathered outside the Carl Grillo Glass House and Gazebo Road – named after the late Liberal Party leader who received the prestigious Lynne Robbins Foundation award Steinman for his English gardens, which he started from seed. in winter.

“After two years, it’s time to celebrate,” said Jessica Baker Vodoor, president and CEO of Snug Harbor. “I am proud to be the new CEO of Snug Harbor since January of this year. We are lucky to have deep roots and we can be a resource for the community. Thank you all for being the vision for Snug Harbor. And thank you to Jenny Kelly and the Events Committee for your leadership and passion for this great organization…Snug Harbor is an oasis. And it is indeed a cozy port. We are the cultural flagship of this large borough.


This year’s Neptune Ball program highlighted unique community-focused awards.

Upon receiving Snug Harbor’s Lifetime of Service Award, D’Arrigo said, “It’s a beautiful evening that touches my heart. I’ve always loved The Harbor and I’m thrilled to see how far it’s come and to see all the people here tonight who grew up with The Harbour. We are all here tonight to celebrate The Harbor’s achievements and to see how far it has come.

And for Lamberti, the evening was also warm. “I think tonight is so special. I was looking forward to this evening because Snug Harbor is very close to my heart. We are extremely lucky to have this crowd here tonight to hear about what is happening and what needs to be done and not just to talk about it, but to get involved.

The Captain Randall Award for Community Service recognized the unwavering community service of four organizations that have supported the vitality of the Staten Island community during the COVID pandemic: City Access New York, Grace Foundation, La Colmena and Muslim Sisters of Staten Island .

The Snug Harbor Visionary Award was presented to Marvel, in recognition of the company’s design leadership for the community vision for the future development of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

Guests enjoyed a performance by the Susan Wagner High School Jazz Band, as well as remarks from Snug Harbor leadership and honored awards.

Participatory art festival “FIGMENT” offered an interactive art installation at the Weissglass Gazebo, and roaming the lush lawns, amidst a majestic backdrop of pretty bouquets and soaring trees, were performance artists from Tatiana Entertainment , who charmed and delighted the entire event space. .

Celebrate’s dinner at Snug Harbor was held along nearby Gazebo Road, which features fresh produce grown at the Snug Harbor Heritage Farm.

Over dinner there was a charity fundraiser to benefit Snug Harbour, led by professional auctioneer Cate Smit.

The evening continued after dinner with an after-party on the lawn of the Carl Grillo Glass House, with an encore of Sunrise and dancing. The event is planned and designed by Alissa Sinagra of Champaperie.

Support for the Neptune Ball included Chubb, Delta Air Lines and Marvel as major sponsors of the perennial garden.

Con Edison and Staten Island CTV support the Neptune Ball as herb garden sponsors, and pond garden sponsors include Alfred C. Cerullo III, John and Kathy Connors, Anita Laremont and Alan Sullivan, Mark Lauria and Associates, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Northfield Bank Foundation, Ted Perednia, Pitta Bishop & DelGiorno, Rampulla Associates Architects LLP and Staten Island University Hospital.

To learn more about other ways to support Bal Neptune, visit or contact Debbie Aboaba at [email protected]

All proceeds from the Neptune Ball go to Snug Harbor’s mission and programming.


The historic 83-acre Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden campus is one of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, featuring 28 structures, 14 unique botanical gardens, 10 acres of wetlands, and a two-story urban farm. acres.

Its mission is to provide a vibrant regional cultural destination that offers vibrant programming in the arts, education, horticulture, agriculture and recreation for diverse cultures and all ages, while ensuring a well-run campus for all residents of Staten Island and surrounding communities. Snug Harbor is a proud affiliate of the Smithsonian. Learn more about Snug Harbor at

Over the years, Staten Island has been overflowing with amazing volunteers who have lived high in the art of fundraising and made their presence known in social circles to benefit charities and nonprofit foundations. .


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