Courier Life’s

Gravesend block association holds 18th century-themed party in Dyker Beach Park

Gravesend neighbors celebrate birth of country, board members

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Old-timers: Cousins Anthony Grillo of Staten Island and Nicole Sozio of Bensonhurst put on their best 18th-Century clothes for the throwback party.
Power couple: Michael Grillo of Bay Ridge and Laura Squassoni of Staten Island came to Sunday’s party as George and Martha Washington.
Training day: A re-enactor shows kids how to handle wooden rifles.
Family fun: Nicholas Tsimenis of Bensonhurst and his daughter Christina came out in style.
Revolutionary party: Couples are ready to do a colonial-era dance.
Guests of honor: George and Dolores Frenzel of Gravesend share a toast during their joint 80th birthday party.

To celebrate the end of summer and the birthdays of two of its leading members, a Gravesend block association went retro — really retro!

For six hours on Sept. 9, the W. 11th Street Block Association — representing tenants living between Highlawn Avenue and Quentin Road — turned Dyker Beach Park into a slice of the 18th century in order to ring in their board president George Frenzel and his wife Dolores’s 80th birthdays. The event featured colonial-style costumes — including an appearance from George and Martha Washington — Revolutionary-era dancers, an 18th-century buffet with recipes out of the Founding Fathers’ Virginia, and even an old-fashioned cannon fired at noon.

Frenzel said the celebration reflected Gravesend’s rich historical roots as an English colony started in 1643 with some truly revolutionary ideas in mind.

“It was founded by a woman, Lady Deborah Moody, a very progressive lady, who set out a planned city, established federal-style laws, and instituted religious freedom for all,” said Frenzel, noting that Moody’s principles were the same ones that inspired the American Revolution.

Frenzel said he hoped that the residents and guests who came out to the party would go home enlightened and enriched.

“They will be carrying away a memory of some unique presentations, of some friendships renewed and made, of some information learned, and a new spirit of what it means to be called an ‘American,’ ” said Frenzel.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter at

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