At Branford Rotary's Annual Holiday Lunch yesterday at the Italian American Club, guests received more than delicious food – the Branford High School Music Makers entertained and two birthdays were celebrated.
After breaking into holiday song, the singing group toasted rotary member Peter Cimino on his birthday and then delivered a special birthday song for Rotary Youth Exchange Program participant Margherita Bertellini.
Bertellini who hails from Milan has been living in Branford and attending Branford High School for nearly six months as part of the rotary's exchange program. The Music Makers offered her their rendition of "Tanti Auguri a Te," which is a happy birthday melody in Italian.
She said hearing the choir sing for her in Italian was the best gift she had received.
Before the Music Makers left for another one of their six gigs on the agenda that day, Bertellini had a group hug with the singers and expressed her thanks again.
To the rotary, Bertellini said, "You have really taken care of me and I feel at home. I feel like family here."
A large number of the 68 rotary members were in attendance with their spouses including Nelson and Louise Bernabucci. Nelson is the rotary's oldest active member at 85 years old and is proud to note that he is a World War II Navy veteran.
Also in attendance was Branford Schools Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez who will become a rotary member in January.
Just after the BHS Music Makers finished a song, Hernandez commented, "The kids certainly captured the essence of the holidays." (See video of the holiday performance).
After the students had left, Branford Rotary President Michael Ball spoke and then members began their tradition of giving Happy Bucks.
Happy Bucks is a program where rotary members dish up one dollar for something they are happy about. All proceeds are put towards the rotary's fundraising efforts.
One man gave $5 for his happiness for the well-being of his sons who are New York Giants fans and were reeling from a terrific lost against the Philadelphia Eagles the day before.
In keeping with the holiday theme, Branford Counseling Center's Pat Andriole stood up and gave $2 as she was happy 180 families were matched for the center's Secret Santa program.