It wasn’t exactly the Belmont Stakes, but residents were cheering on horses — wooden horses that is — during A Night at the Races, a fundraiser for Sons of the American Legion at Malverne Post 44 on Nov. 4. More than 50 residents, including Army and Navy veterans, attended the event, and got caught up in the friendly bidding and high-spirited fun.
“Our veterans have done great service for our country,” said John Hassett, commander of Post 44, “and this is one of our ways that we give back to them. We always have a lot of fun anytime we’ve held this event, and we’ve raised some money for a good cause in the process, so I’m ecstatic about it.”
For the past three years, Hassett said, the money raised at this event has improved the post and renovated the building. “We’re trying to make it more of a place where people can come together,” he said. “We’ve continued to make repairs all around the building — so slowly but surely, we’re getting there.”
“This event brings a lot of people together and creates a lot of camaraderie,” said Vice Commander Carl Gerrato, “which is important to any of these type of these events. It’s a lot of fun and it’s great to know that this event has grown all through word of mouth.”
Gerrato added that he hoped the event would continue to grow in the coming years, and that more residents would visit and support the post.
Regina Marino, a local resident who attended, said she has been to the races every year, and that it has become one of the post’s most popular events. “This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen …,” Marino said. “Everybody enjoys their time here, and on top of that, it all benefits Sons of the American Legion.”
Hassett said that even after the bidding wars, everybody leaves the post happy.
“Our main goal is to do whatever we can to support our vets,” he said. “But if we can also provide a good family-friendly time for our community, we can’t ask for much more.”