By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
In a time dominated by the coronavirus, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi lifted spirits by delivering valentines to 30 couples married for at least 50 years, including Bill and Doreen Breen, as part of the city’s 31st annual Valentine’s Day event.
The Breens, who live on Laurel Street and have been married for 53 years, were among the West Haven couples honored by Rossi on Friday, two days before Valentine’s Day.
During the pandemic-safe celebration, Rossi drove to each home and gave each couple a blue tote bag emblazoned with a white West Haven centennial logo and filled with congratulatory gifts.
In the past three decades, the City With a Heart had recognized those sweethearts who reached the half-century mark and beyond with a Valentine’s Day party featuring entertainment, dancing and refreshments.
But this year was different, Rossi acknowledged, because of COVID-19. Pandemic or not, she was determined to keep the city’s long-standing Valentine’s Day tradition alive.
Without skipping a beat, Rossi, with help from the Department of Elderly Services, organized an alternative event that celebrated the holiday of love from the safety of couples’ homes — all the while she played Cupid and delivered gift bags to the happy couples in an otherwise trying time.
The insulated tote bags were donated by West Haven United, an organization aimed at bringing the city’s volunteer groups together, and were assembled by the University of New Haven Mayor’s Advisory Commission, a collaborative, student-driven task force founded in 2015 to strengthen town-gown relations.
Each bag contained a bottle of prosecco, a red rose and a salami and provolone snack pack courtesy of Costco of Milford, as well as face masks from the West Haven Health Department and promotional items from the West Haven Community Development Administration.
Rossi also presented the event’s oldest married couple, William and Dorothy McCarthy, 71 years, and the youngest couple, Lou and Maryann Celone, 51 years, with a bottle of wine and a gift-wrapped pendant courtesy of Leslie Jewelers of West Haven.