ON SATURDAY morning, my nephew, Tom, married his sweetheart, Tanya, in a lovely ceremony. The bride was beautiful. The groom smiled all day. Everyone danced and laughed and rejoiced with the couple as they set off on their new married life.
Sunday morning, we slept late and went to Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church, where we were treated to another profession of marriage vows, this one celebrating the love and commitment of a couple who have shared wedded life for 50 years.
Alfonsina Bellafotta and Peter Allotta met in an ice cream parlor in Brooklyn, N.Y. Peter saw something special in Alfonsina, and she remembers him as "a wonderful man." They talked, they dated, and on June 4, 1950, they were married in Brooklyn's St. Cecelia's Church.
Both recall their wedding day as "most joyous," surrounded by family and friends. And, surrounded by family and friends, they have shared their lives for a half-century. On Sunday, they stood before the congregation at Seton parish, where the Rev. John Crotty (another Brooklyn native) officiated as they once more professed their love and promised eternal faithfulness.
Alfonsina's twin sister, Adelaide Chiarello, was a witness, just as she was 50 years ago. Their best man was not able to attend the renewal ceremony, but Adelaide's husband, Xavierio, was proud to stand in for him. The Allottas' children, Cathy Fanfalone and Thomas Allotta, and granddaughter, Rachel Fanfalone, beamed as they watched the re-enactment of the ceremony.
Cathy remembers her mother and father as wonderful parents. Growing up in Brooklyn, she said, the family always did things together - going to Central Park, the zoo and Rockefeller Center. One of her earliest memories, Cathy said, is sitting on her father's shoulders so that she could see the marchers in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In 1968, the family moved to Maryland, where Peter Allotta worked for the U.S. Postal Service and Alfonsina worked for the United States Oceanographic Office - and both continued to love and raise their family.
Is there a secret to their long, happy marriage?
"I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful man," said the bride. "You don't just go off when something goes wrong and say, `This is it.' You work through it. You accept each other and don't let arguments get out of hand."
After leading the couple through the renewal of their vows, Father Crotty told the groom, "You may now kiss the bride." But he was too late. Peter Allotta was already kissing his bride, just as he has been for 50 years.
Club's community support
Fund-raisers are a staple of neighborhood life. Like many other community groups, the Four Seasons Women's Club relies on hard-working volunteers to run such events - plant sales, an annual bull and oyster roast, selling business ads for the monthly newsletter.
But what happens to all the money that is raised?
During the 1999-2000 season, the Four Seasons club donated $7,100 to projects in the Gambrills community.
Arundel High School senior Sally Downing was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for college. The Four Seasons Elementary School Imagination Destination Fruit Roller Coaster Team received financial support for its trip to the Imagination Destination Global Finals competition in Ames, Iowa.
Also receiving donations were Four Seasons Elementary, Arundel Middle and Arundel Senior High schools, the Four Seasons Women's Club Community Service Committee, Four Seasons Security Patrol and the 4-H Dairy Club.
The women's club is taking a summer break but looks forward to another busy year of activities beginning in September under the leadership of a new board: Alberta Baker, recently elected president; Cathy Jones, vice president; Betsy Oliver, corresponding secretary; Mary Loosararian, recording secretary; and Janet McElwaney, treasurer.
For more information about the club, call 410-721-8210.
Coffeehouse season finale
Crofton City Limits will present the season's final coffeehouse program Friday at the Community United Methodist Church Multi-Ministries Building. Local musicians and poets are invited to take part in the open-mike program.
Admission is $3. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show begins at 8 p.m. The coffeehouse program resumes in September.
Information: 301-858-1595or 301-261-6723.