Wedding Marathon Brings Tears of Joy

Teary-eyed brides and nervous-looking bridegrooms came to Huntington Town Hall Thursday for Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia’s 23rd annual marriage ceremony marathon that included sweets, cake and gifts.

And there was only one hitch in the hitching–one of the eight couples planning a wedding or renewal of vows on Valentine’s Day couldn’t make it because of a mishap a few days earlier. So Raia’s son, State Assemblyman Andrew Raia, rode to the rescue.

“The couples that I have united over the years have received this idea enthusiastically and it has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to unite these couples and to share in their happiness as they embark on their new lives together,” Jo-Ann Raia said.

Some couples brought their children as well as other guests as Raia led them in their vows, placing of the rings and, of course, their first kiss as a married couple. The ceremony was free and the newly united couples received numerous gifts, from cards to stuffed animals to sweets, all donated by local businesses and Raia’s office.

Complimentary items after the ceremony included cakes, cookies and punch.

Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman and Town Attorney Nick Ciappetta were among town officials who stopped by the ceremonies.

Raia said that she has performed as many as 16 weddings in one day but because of an early evening meeting Thursday evening, she had limited the number of ceremonies.

Andrew Raia Jumps In for a Ceremony Assist

Thomas Pesce planned to surprise his wife, Rose, with a renewal of vows ceremony Thursday at Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia’s wedding marathon. He had, after all, helped at the marathon in the past, photographing couples on their big day. But when Rose was injured in a fall a few days earlier, she was unable to travel from their Kings Park home to Town Hall.

So State Assemblyman Andrew Raia dashed to Kings Park Thursday afternoon to perform the ceremony instead. In addition to reading the service, he read a poem supplied by his mother.

Thomas Pesce, 86, a former captain in the Melville Fire Department and still an active member, and Rose, 85, met through mutual friends but didn’t immediately start dating.

“I set him up with a friend, but he didn’t particularly care for the blind date,” Rose said. “And my dad said, ‘He’s the one for you. Don’t let him get away’.” They married in 1954 and had two children and have four grandsons.

“We never went to bed angry,” Thomas said.

Rose credited their long marriage to their similar backgrounds.

“Patience,” too, Rose said. “He’s not the easiest person, but then neither am I.”

They started out in Brooklyn before moving to Melville while he worked at Grumman. In 2009, they sold their house and moved to Kings Park.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation in December authorizing state senators and members of the Assembly to officiate at civil ceremonies.

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