Santa Does Photo Shoot at Russo’s On The Bay

Santa Does Photo Shoot at Russo’s On The Bay

Almost 500 community residents flocked to Russo’s on the Bay this Monday night when Santa paid an early visit to Howard Beach, accepting an invitation to strike a pose—actually hundreds of them—with neighborhood children and their families.

The day was a gift to the community that arose during a conversation among Frank Russo and his staff. “Mr. Russo was very excited over the thought of having all the kids come here with their families and take pictures with Santa, but we never expected that everyone else [the community] would be so excited over it as well,” said Anthony Vernaci from Russo’s Human Resource department.

His surprise came as a result of the hundreds of registrations on their website leading up to the event. “We scheduled two separate sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening; finally we just had to close the registrations.” But not before they logged in close to five hundred requests for photos.

“This is such a wonderful thing,” said Howard Beach grandmother Phyllis Salmon. She arrived with her son, daughter-in-law and “nearly” 3-year-old granddaughter Madeline. “Our family loves to do things like this and being able to do it without having to travel far from home in such a beautiful place is really unbelievable.”

Russo executive Susie Serra directed traffic for the crowds of eager photo seekers, leading them into various party rooms to wait for their turns on Santa’s lap in front of the camera. Christina and Al Cortizo brought their daughter, 2-year-old Lisa, for a shot with Santa. “This is a great thing—right now we need people to think Christmas—Russo’s brought Christmas tonight. That’s really great.”

Still others pointed to a starker reality. Jorge and Marcia Alvarez took a bus from their Woodhaven apartment with their son, 5-year-old Zack, and 7-year-old daughter, Melanie.

“The way things are today sometimes people have to make choices. Tonight we got to do something that might not be affordable to our family,” Jorge said. And Alvarez was hardly the only parent to remark about what a tremendous gesture Russo’s made.

All children and their families passing  through the doors at Russo’s found themselves in a winter wonderland, surrounded by beautifully appointed Christmas trees and garland. Snowmen and elves walked around to greet visitors while they waited for Santa.

Guests were allowed to take their own photos and were also given free printed copies of those taken by Russo’s. Upon leaving everyone was presented with their framed photos and a Gingerbread Man . Of course they were no ordinary Gingerbread Men—they had been baked the day before by the children of Russo employees who spent the day baking and decorating the treats for all those who registered.

As the event drew to a close, standing to the side and out of the way, his arms folded, just watching everyone pass by, was Frank Russo.  A family walking by on their way to the elevator smiled.  “Merry Christmas,” Russo said, waving at their little girl and smiling back.

On the elevator the little girl said to her mother, “Mommy, who was that man?”  Her mother answered, “He’s the man that gave us tonight.”

By Patricia Adams

Forum Newsgroup Photos by Patricia Adams



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