Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery Events

Spirits Alive

Our annual Spirits Alive Event at Maple Grove Cemetery took place on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 2:30 to 4:30. The weather was beautiful, and we were blessed with large crowds including many children. The theme of the event commemorated the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War 1 and many of the historical portraits had a connection to World War I. We also had a special unveiling of the Alfio Manninici Plaque with Judge Coco who flew in from Chicago to portray herself and helped unveil the monument to her uncle.

Other important guests included Captain Chris Kraft who spoke about the 23 victims of 9/11 and Maple Grove Senior Vice President Helen Day portrayed Susan Monroe Stowe, the daughter-in-law of Harriet Beecher Stowe who was recently found buried at Maple Grove. The rest of the wonderful cast came courtesy of the Josephine Foundation. All were dressed in period costumes and gave wonderful presentations. Here are the rooster of all the performers.

ALFRED ST LEON a noted acrobat and circus performer was portrayed by Branch Worsham.

IDA ST LEON, the daughter of Alfred and a noted equestrian and acrobat was portrayed by Ariana Barlas. KATE HOLLADAY CLAGHORN a noted statistician and author was portrayed by Danielle Fleming. MARIE CORELLI a famed Victorian novelist whose brother is buried at Maple Grove was portrayed by Gianna Varrassi. WILLIAM CARTER who was once known as the King of the Banjo was portrayed by Giovanni Vittozzi. CHARLES OTIS who is a direct descendant of the inventor of passenger elevators and a bugler in World War I was portrayed by Henry Van Nunes. SAMUEL CISCO who fought with the Jamaica Board of Education in the late 1800s to end segregation of public schools was portrayed by Kent Williams. WILFRED ANDREW SURBER a famed World War I flying ace was portrayed by Marco Vitozzi. FULLER MELLISH an early silent film star and soldier from World War I was portrayed by Paul Inglese. WILLIAM TRIST BAILEY a real estate tycoon was portrayed by Richard Masin. MARTIN BRANNER, the famed cartoonist for the Winnie Winkle comic strip was portrayed by Rosario Amico. CAPTAIN HENRY C. BUTLER who participated in the Civil War and World War I was portrayed by Roy Mangione. KATE MATSON POST, author of the first book on the history of Richmond Hill and a writer was portrayed by Hailey Potash.

JOAN CUNEO, one of America’s greatest female racing car drivers whose mechanic is buried at Maple Grove was portrayed by Barbara Disclafini. CLARISSA LOCKER MITCHELL whose parents were escaped slaves from the deep South was portrayed by Sophy Rodiguez. The PFALZER FAMILY was represented by Russell Pfalzer.


At a special designated time, everyone gathered at Manninici grave and Judge Coco led the ceremony for the unveiling of the grave marker for her Uncle Alfio. He died at the hospital at Ellis Island in 1925 at the age of 4. The location of his grave had become lost for many decades until Judge Coco found him at Maple Grove Cemetery and a marker was placed over his unmarked grave.

Trunk or Treat

Trunk or Treat, due to a pending storm, was rescheduled for Sunday, October 28, 2018. The number of cars went down to twenty, but the attendance was still very high. A huge number of families and many children came. Many of the cars came from the Josephine Foundation members.

A Cake Sale was organized by Aneil & Savina raising $260 that was donated to the Monument Fund! NCO Scott Adelman and NCO Samantha Edelstein came with their decorated police car and gave out over 250 police coloring books. The Thanksgiving Canned Food was also part of this event and the donation table was soon overflowing with food and was manned by student volunteers from SJU and Archbishop Molloy High School. Alex Samaroo and Stevie Christie helped with the coordination and clean up. Aida Vernon and Jo Anne Raskin, members of the Friends of Maple Grove Board of Directors were judges and selected a 1st and 2nd place winners.








Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Our first Double Header! The event has proven so popular that we were forced to have it on a Friday and Saturday night. The amount of work to set this up was back breaking but we were lucky to have volunteers from St John University and Archbishop Molloy High School. Savina and her family stayed Saturday night and helped with the clean up as did the Vitozzi family, Alex Samaroo and Stevie Christie, and Susan Horwich. Jo-Anne Raskin was there and took some amazing photos. Aida Vernon, a member of the Friends of Maple Grove Board or Directors and a lawyer was responsible for writing the script for both evenings and everyone loved both mysteries! There were two endings! Aida reported that the actors liked doing it on two consecutive nights to allow them to get more fully into their roles. Many of the roles were filled by Josephine Foundation actors. Here is the list of the character and the actors and actors who portrayed them: Philip Benson by PAT WHITE, Lorenzo Brieba by GIOVANNI VITTOZZI, Jan Fryling by HENRY VAN NUNES, Max Gerson by ROY MANGIONE, Charles Green by PAUL INGLESE, Jerry Handley by ROSARIO AMICO, Rosina Lhevinne by GIANNA VARRASSI, Theresa Merritt by SOPHY RODRIGUEZ, Harry Ogawa by MARCO VITTOZZI, Helen Serger by MELANIE HENDERSON, and the Countess Elizabeth van der Recke by KIERA LIANTONIO. The reaction by the crowds for both night offered high praise for the actors and the sharp script!

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