By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi gave out valentines to 17 married couples of 50 years and more at the city’s first in-person Valentine’s Day party in three years on Feb. 14.
Ocean Avenue residents Gabe and Robin Alvandian, who have been married for 65 years, were among the city couples honored by Rossi at the West Haven Senior Center on Valentine’s Day.
Each couple received chocolates, a long-stemmed red rose and wine glasses, as well as a framed photograph of themselves.
For three decades, the city had recognized those sweethearts who reached the half-century mark and beyond with a party featuring entertainment, dancing and refreshments.
In 2021-22, however, the COVID-19 pandemic had forced the city to reinvent its decades-old Valentine’s Day tradition by organizing back-to-back alternative events that celebrated the holiday of love from the safety of couples’ homes. While the events were welcomed and kept the tradition alive, they were not the same, Rossi said.
With that socially distanced reinvention now history, the city played Cupid for the 33rd straight year by holding its Valentine’s Day party — complete with entertainment, dancing and refreshments for the first time since 2020 — in the second-floor arts and crafts room of the Johnson Community Center at 201 Noble St.
The two-hour party, presented by the mayor’s office and the Department of Elderly Services, included oldies music crooned by Alex Pericas Jr. and lunch catered by Lorenzo’s Restaurant of West Haven. The roses were provided by Fitzgerald’s Florist of West Haven, and Costco of Milford provided a cake.
Rossi presented the Alvandians, the event’s oldest married couple, and the youngest couples, Hillside Avenue residents Ken and Mariann Lord and Platt Avenue residents James and Patricia Serry, both 50 years, with a bottle of sparkling wine and a gift-wrapped pendant necklace courtesy of Leslie Jewelers of West Haven.