Montauk Playhouse Gala 2017

…by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

It’s impossible not to mention “Montauk” without thinking SURFING in the same sentence! In this east end community’s early years, fishing and swimming in the pristine beaches were the top pastimes. More than a decade ago surfing has become a haven here for both skilled and novice lovers of the sport. The Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation annual Gala was themed around surfing, “Celebrating the vibrant, authentic surf culture of Montauk. We will honor local artists and activists who have captured the spirit of this surf town in their work.” Each year this well attended gala begins with a festive cocktail hour, sit down dinner, both live and silent auctions and a night of music and dancing. And in Montauk the dance floor is always packed with lively and enthusiastic party goers! Live music was provided by Donavon Frankenreiter and later in the evening a DJ provided terrific music of the 80’s that kept the party going and the dance floor packed. Over 400 guests attended this year.

Honorees at this Gala centered on surfing and the water related activities. They were: Tony Caramanico, legendary local surfer and artist, James Katsipis, renowned surf photographer, Evelyn O’Doherty, community activist and surf instructor and Peter Spacek, cartoonish, artist and surfer. Honorary Co-Chairs this year were Travis Beckmann, Candace Ceslow, Mikey DeTemple and Leif Engstrom. There was also a special Tribute to Russell (Rusty) Drumm, the senior writer for the East Hampton Star that passed away last year. Mr. Drumm wrote about commercial and recreational fishing among a wide range of topics and was also an avid surfer. While I did not know Mr. Drumm personally I was moved when I read of his passing because of what he often wrote in his columns after walking Ditch beach checking on the surf fishermen’s catch. He frequently mentioned my 85 year old father years ago in his column, referring to him as “John, Senior Caster” at Ditch and naming what he caught. This always put a smile on dad’s face to see mention of his catch in the newspaper. Mr. Drumm also wrote in another column several years later, “sorrowfully to report the passing of Senior Caster, John who was a fixture for many years at Ditch beach”. That clipping remains with our other notes of sympathy we’ve saved and a reminder of how Mr. Drumm touched so many lives.

It takes months of planning to put together the Playhouse Gala and also the generous support of artists, store owners, businesses and various companies that offer donations to be auctioned. Among the fantastic live auction items were a membership to the Montauk Lake Club, Private shopping party with Cynthia Rowley, Build your Own Board Session with Grain Custom Surfboards and a week vacation in Rincon, Puerto Rico, to name a few of them. This year over $50,000 was raised through the live and silent auction items. The Gala Event Chairs, Lisa and Robert DeVeglio, Michele and Brian Walsh, and Susan Henkin, Executive Director certainly put together a fabulous, well planned event this year. The dining around and cocktail hour floor plan and tent configuration was generous and allowed for guests to mingle with ease. Without a doubt, this year’s Playhouse Gala was a beautiful event and a successful effort to support the Playhouse’s mission to construct a Cultural Arts and Aquatic Center. For information about other wonderful events coming up throughout the year or to learn more about the Playhouse visit: