Rocking Around the Hotel For The Holidays

 Rocking Around the Hotel For The Holidays

By Dan Guarino

“Spend the weekend with us!” says Guest Experience Manager Gabrielle Mangano, as The Rockaway Hotel gets ready to “kickstart the holiday season” with three big festive events running over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 8, 9 and 10. Visitors and guests will get to enjoy a holiday cabaret show, a gala big-band dinner, and a holiday market, all neatly gift wrapped by the hotel staff.

“The magic of The Rockaway Hotel,” Mangano, who has been with the hotel since it opened in 2020, explains “is that we have the ability to transform our spaces to create so many different experiences for our community to enjoy.”

On Friday, December 8, the second floor Harbor Room will become the stage for two back-to-back singing and dancing cabaret performances presented by the Rockaway Theatre Company. As they describe it, “The RTC crew is hitting the road with a night of festive fun for the whole family.” Complete with theater style seating and a six-piece band, “Jingle Bells on the Rock” will go on live at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the shows.

A cast of about ten singers/dancers, including RTC’s Erech Holder-Hetmeyer, Adele Wendt, Dana Mongelli, Juliette Pannone Mallon and others, will be performing favorites like “Sleigh Ride,” “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Snow” and “Sisters” from the film “White Christmas,” along with a few fun surprises, and choreography they have created just for these shows. As Mallon states, “We will be singing and dancing our hearts out, ringing in the joy of the holiday season. Hope to see you there!”

“We love working with different community organizations,” Mangano adds, “and The Rockaway Theatre Company has seasoned pros who genuinely love putting on a show!”

The celebrations continue on Saturday, December 9, at 7 p.m., with “A Big Band Holiday Dinner.” This second annual outing will bring the big band sound to the Rockaway Hotel with a 10-musician strong ensemble led by vocalist Jim Mola.  They’ll be playing from the original musical arrangements from Frank Sinatra’s hit live album “Sinatra at the Sands,” along with a variety of holiday favorites. “They are incredible,” Mangano says. “Listening to them transports you to the Golden Age of Hollywood.”

As a preview, she notes, “The response to last year’s Big Band Holiday Dinner was fantastic. It was such a special night. Everyone was all glammed up, the room was festive and spirits were high.” This year she says, “We are offering a three-course dinner, premium open bar including a Martini & Irish Coffee bar. Perfectly paired with the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s standard tunes and festive big band arrangements of holiday classics. The menu is being created by our Executive Chef Chris Tyler and includes passed appetizers, a salad, pasta and surf and turf entree.” Once again, the hotel’s Harbor Room will transform itself into a sparkling showcase of red, green, and glittering gold for the occasion.

Wrapping up the weekend with a bow will be a bonanza for gift shoppers with The Rockaway Hotel’s Holiday Market, in the Harbor Room space, starting at 12 noon on Sunday, December 10. Now in its third year, the market, Mangano states, “has been growing each year and we usually have a wait list of vendors! Over 30 different tables this year will be offering a wide variety of items for sale including jewelry, clothes, candles, sweet treats, custom creations and more. We love the idea of shopping local and having our space be a platform for others to share their small businesses.”

In the past, she explains, the hotel has worked with several community organizations “including our swim program with The Rising Tide Effect, beach clean ups with Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy, Thanksgiving food donations to St. John’s Home for Boys, raising money for veterans with Stockings for a Cause and currently working with Circuit (a low-cost local ride service) in an effort to reduce congestion and offer transportation for short trips around the peninsula.”

Keeping Rockaway’s children in mind, the hotel’s Little Rocks youth program has pop up activities centered around the holidays and creative arts expression for kids. The Rockaway Hotel has also been an active center for and a strong supporter of the arts, dance and music in the Rockaways.

As a hub for activities for its communities throughout the year, Mangano notes, previously “we have had Brunch with Santa, Halloween Masquerade Ball on The Rooftop, our New Year’s Day Polar Plunge” an entertaining variety of post-Rockaway St. Patrick’s Parade events and more at the hotel.

As the staff makes ready to add to that list and make their big holiday weekend shine, Mangano puts it simply.

“There is always something to celebrate at The Rockaway Hotel.”

For more information, reservations, tickets etc. contact the Rockaway Hotel at 718-474-1216.

Photos by Dan Guarino and The Rockaway Hotel.

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