The gardens of Oheka Castle were filled to capacity Wednesday with people supporting the 2019 Otto Kahn Scholarship Award winners, as well as celebrating the 100th birthday of the famous Long Island mansion.
Five school seniors were awarded the Otto Kahn Scholarship, an award for students who plan on furthering their education in the arts, at the 19th annual continental garden party at the castle.
Sponsored by Friends of Oheka, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and public awareness of the castle, and partnered with Gary Melius, owner of Oheka, the group has raised money to pass along five $3,500 awards to each of the students..
This year’s winners were; Jaycee Cardoso, of Walt Whitman High School for music, John DiGiorgio III, of Half Hollow Hills High School West for performing arts, Peter Mainetti, of Northport High School for music, Reyha Mete of Walt Whitman High School for fine arts and Elisabeth Shim of Cold Spring Harbor High School for performing arts.
Mete’s artwork was displayed in the library for attendees to view, while both winners of the music categories performed for the crowd.
“People may say to these recipients that this was good luck,” Steven Gentile of Adventureland, said, “But it wasn’t… it was their hard work to be honored with this achievement.” Steven and his brother Paul were honored with the 2019 Friends of Oheka Humanitarian Awards for their philanthropic efforts. “Oheka was built as a retreat from everyday life and Adventureland was built for those same reasons,” he said.
But while families were there to support the scholarship winners, others came from all over to dress in their best Gatsby-styled clothes to celebrate Oheka’s 100 years.
Two 1931 Model A Fords were donated by Bruce Adams and Ray Leblond to the event, allowing flappers and their dates to take pictures in front of the vintage cars. Babylon and Patchogue-based Village Cigar Headquarters rolled fresh cigars on premise, allowing attendees to feel as though they were at a Gold Coast Roaring 20s party.
After speeches and performances, a birthday cake was brought out to Gary Melius and his family to honor the home that once held similar parties with guests like Charlie Chaplin.
“The garden party is a big deal for us, especially now because it keeps Otto’s legacy alive after 100 years,” Melius’ daughter and Oheka’s communications director, Nancy Melius said. “It’s so important to honor and support the next generation of artists throughout their education.”
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci stopped by to award Melius with a Huntington proclamation, while adding that the former Gold Coast mansion is an important piece of local history. “It’s a beautiful evening to be here and to celebrate the rich history of Oheka castle and its impact on Huntington,” he said.