The ‘Stars’ were shining

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(C)Arthur DeGaeta 2011
(C)Arthur DeGaeta 2011

Our “Mentor of the Year,” Curtis Sliwa, really got the crowd going at our first Rising Star event in Brooklyn.

The stars were really all around me on March 25, both on the ground and in the sky. It was our first Rising Star event in Brooklyn to celebrate successful men and women under 40 through our Brooklyn newspapers, the Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator.

It was a picture-perfect night and we gathered the 40 honorees at Stage 6 Steiner Studios, Abigail Kirsch’s renowned catering space on the waterfront of the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

Entering the gates leading onto the grounds reminded me of Paramount Studios in Hollywood when I went to visit my childhood friend Judy, now known as Judge Judy, to see her tape her weekly TV show.

The Steiners have brought Hollywood to New York. As I drove to the end of the property I passed studios that were filming some of my favorite shows. I continued down to the last building and there was a red carpet laid out to greet us all. There is plentiful parking and we were dropped off Hollywood-style to walk the red carpet and enter the party space.

We had invited the honorees to come early for a VIP gathering to meet each other and take photos that appeared in our Brooklyn newspapers and on our web site. What a wonderful group they were. From the pastor of a large congregation in Dyker Heights to a leader of the Arab-American community to a doctor from Preferred Health Partners to a real estate executive, it was a remarkable gathering of Brooklyn’s best.

And what a perfect night to be outside with our “stars” among the stars in the sky and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.

As the guests gathered on the floor below us for networking opportunities before the presentations, we all got to know each other.

The event was a fundraiser also, thanks to tickets from JetBlue and Delta Airlines, a gift card from TD Bank and a day of bowling from Maple Lanes. The money raised money from a raffle went to two worthy causes, the Education & Employment Program at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation.

When the photos of the group were completed we went down to meet the rest of the guests and eat and drink at the many buffet tables overflowing with delicious food and prepare for the presentation of the awards.

Our “Mentor of the Year” honoree was the indomitable, unique, powerful Curtis Sliwa. How handsome he is! He held the crowd of over 450 people enraptured as he accepted his award with a rousing speech offering advice to the crowd and sharing his childhood memories. He grew up not far from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We all laughed when he explained his parents wouldn’t let him near there because it was such a tough neighborhood. Wow, how things have changed! He graciously stayed and took photos with each of the honorees following his recognition. We also honored Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, but he stayed only long enough to receive his award.

It was a magical night with so many happy people. That is what our events are all about, networking with other businesspeople and connecting forever with all the honorees and their families.

Mark your calendars for April 25 when, at Terrace on the Park, we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Top Women in Business. We will be inducting past honorees into our newly-created “Hall of Fame.” Then, on June 21 we will honor Brooklyn’s Top Women in Business. See you all there . . .