By Rita J. Egan
Wine lovers can enjoy a fun night out as well as a bit of history at the Huntington Historical Society’s 25th annual Evening of Wine Under the Stars on Friday, Sept. 18.
Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano, executive director at the society, said the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year will honor the 100th anniversary of Huntington Hospital.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your hometown a little bit more,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.
In addition to a selection of fine wines available for tasting, Blind Bat Brewery will be offering its craft beers. The historical society has also planned a night filled with gourmet food tasting from neighboring restaurants including Black & Blue, The Culinary Studio, Christopher’s Crew, Cinque Terre, IMC, Old Fields, Reinwalds and XO. With business owners from the local area participating, Fortunato-Napolitano said, “It’s always fun to try the new restaurants. It gives you a great idea of where you want to go and get dinner.”
The event, which takes place outside on the property of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House at 434 Park Avenue, will give guests the opportunity to view the historical society’s museum. The director said, in the early part of the evening, attendees will be able to tour the house, which on an everyday basis is only open by appointment.
Maria DeLeo, public relations manager at the society, said there will be plenty of opportunities to dance under the stars, too. Local band The Modern Age will be on hand, and the society is planning to include a floor so partygoers won’t have to dance in the grass.
Rounding off the night will be a raffle with an array of items including restaurant and spa baskets and a silent auction that includes an item donated by Disney World.
The public relations manager said in prior years guests have traveled from out east, Nassau County and Queens, but the majority of the wine and gourmet food tasters are locals interested in preserving the history of the community.
“We’ve had people in the past who are new to Huntington so they want to meet other Huntonians. So it’s a great place for people to meet other people from the neighborhood,” DeLeo said.
Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Huntington Historical Society at 631-427-7045 or visit its website at www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Tickets are $70 for society members, $85 for nonmembers and $100 at the door.
Meet the new director!
This year’s Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be the first one Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano will be attending as the society’s executive director.
Fortunato-Napolitano stepped into her new position on June 1 of this year. The Huntington Station native is no stranger to the society having worked there as the special events coordinator from 2009 to 2010 and then taking on the role of director of operations from 2011 to 2012. She left the historical society for a couple of years to work for the Seamen’s Church Institute and in the past has worked as a former assistant historian for the town of Huntington and at The Long Island Children’s Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Rural Cemetery.
The director said growing up surrounded by Long Island’s rich history she cultivated an early appreciation for the subject. Her interest in history as well as preservation was solidified when she attended a summer program at the University of Oxford in England. She explained that while studying abroad after learning about history in the classroom, she was able to go outside the university and actually experience it. Something she recognized as being capable of doing in her own hometown.
Fortunato-Napolitano said she enjoys playing a part in educating residents about their community, and Huntington is a great example of how most people don’t even realize how much history is practically right in their own backyards. The director said there have been many times while leading the society’s pub crawl that many participants were surprised to learn historical facts about buildings that they passed every day.
The new executive director said she looks forward to increasing awareness of the town’s history, creating new exhibits and programs and having the historical society return as a mainstay in the community.
“My overall vision is to have the Society become the kind of integral part of the community that it was in the first half of the 20th century. Just to really increase awareness, to offer new public programs and try to get more people involved,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.