Valentine’s Day is a holiday filled with romance, flowers and candy hearts, but it is also a day when North Hempstead couples gather to renew their marriage vows at the Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington. On Feb. 14, couples who had been married for 40 to 75 years came out to the eighth annual Valentine’s Day Marriage Vow Renewal ceremony to reaffirm their commitment to one another and celebrate their marriages.
“The renewal of vows is very special,” said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “It’s a heartwarming event where we can have an affirmation of love that exists in this town. You walk around and hear the stories of all the couples who have been through so many changes throughout their lives, but through it all they’ve stuck together.”
Local couples enjoyed a three-course lunch and a champagne toast after Town Clerk Wayne Wink officiated the vow renewal, first making the husbands stand to recite vows followed by their wives doing the same. The ceremony ended similar to their wedding day, with a kiss.
“It’s a labor of love because to see all these couples and to know they’ve been married for such a long time is great,” said Wink, explaining why he officiates each year. “They’ve gone through good times and bad times together, but they’ve made it through. It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring them all together to renew vows and celebrate good times.”
Since meeting at the Young Democratic Club in Long Beach, M. Joan and David Linden have been together for 61 years. The two had lived in Great Neck for 25 years, with M. Joan working at the Station Branch.
“We were at a restaurant for the Young Democratic Club and I was looking at the stairs and I saw a pair of ankles attached to great legs,” said David.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but we love each other,” said M. Joan. “I say we’re lucky.”
Great Neck preschool teacher Elene and Elmont High School teacher Joseph Contegiacomo met when the two lived in Queens. Elene lived with her girlfriends, one of whom had been friends with Joseph. While Joe was on leave from the Vietnam War, he went to visit his friend who lived with Elene, but Elene wouldn’t let him in the door because she didn’t know who he was. The couple has now been married for 50 years with three daughters and three grandchildren.
“This was it,” said Elene. “We made the commitment for better or for worse and most of the time it was for better.”