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Harold Seeley Flyer

Tribute to a Treasure - Celebrating Harold Seeley

                                       by Sherri Rase           photos by Martha


For more than three decades Harold Seeley has trod the boards of the community house and Saturday evening, August 7, an eon’s worth of experience turned out on the stage at the Cherry Grove Community House.

The audience selected tickets at the box office for this event and donations were made in abundance.  Honoring Harold would best be done by providing something of lasting usefulness as tribute to the man who was recycling long before it became the latest cause célèbre.

Hail to the Queen

The man himself, Harold Seeley

Robin Kradles escorts the guest of honor

To his special seat

A plaque is dedicated

Michael Coffindaffer, president of the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, opened the evening with a heartfelt introduction that clearly showed his close relationship to the man of the evening.  Michael also presented a challenge to the audience – to show our love for Harold by providing funds to assure the proper operation and safety of the theatre we all love.  Michael sent donations boxes around the room and encouraged those who preferred to pay with credit cards to visit the lobby and he would announce the total at the end of the evening.

He then turned the ceremonies over to the Shapiro Sisters and Rick Byrd and Dr. Patrick Fratellone who were our hosts for the evening. 



…and entertainment

Grove glitterati including the lovely Bella, Ruth and Susan Freedner, Margo, Luisa Verde and Gary Greene, Panzi, Linda Dickerman and Barbara Hirsch, Philomena, Robin Kradles, Queen Beach DeBree and many others on stage and in the audience knew this was a must-see, must-be evening. 

Hearing Harold interact at times with the loving performers giving tribute, you knew something really historical and wonderful was happening.  Cherry Grove people know that those around us and on stage are our friends, our community, our chosen family.  Celebrating the many sets Harold has done for shows for the Arts Project and the Doctor’s Show is something that comes naturally.

The Community House in Cherry Grove was floated over in the middle of the last century and it’s only purpose from its arrival was for theatrical purposes, making it the sole venue of its kind on all of Fire Island until the recent completion of Whyte Hall in the Pines.  It’s hard to imagine an orchestra pit where there is now front row seating in the Community House.  It is equally hard to imagine a time without our glorious proscenium with its “Haroldry”, the design, brainchild and everyday wonder from Harold’s prolific creativity that tell the story of the life of this theatre.

Bradshaw Smith shared excerpts from several interviews he’s doing with Harold, including one where Harold speaks of some of the amazing features in the proscenium, whose style he lovingly calls Cherry Grove Rococo.  There are bits and pieces of shows that Arts Project has done throughout its history including swords from “Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum”, Helen Ely’s brooch and even Harold’s nose from when he played classic hobo clown Emmet Kelly in Circus Circus.  His brilliance continues to illuminate the Community House and Harold’s designs will be featured at this year’s end of season Arts Project of Cherry Grove Ball so get your tickets early, seating is limited.


By the end of the evening, Harold, seated onstage in a box seat hand crafted especially for the event, there remained a handful more of surprises.  First, Michael’s announcement that in this one evening we raised over $12,000 toward the renovations made this season all in Harold’s name.  Next, a special propline was announced, dedicated in Harold’s name, that permits special props up to 200 lbs to be used safely in shows and artwork for an accompanying brass plaque in his honor was displayed for the very first time.  Joan Van Ness and Lorraine Michels had long encouraged Harold to frame his original sketch for the proscenium, so they had it archivally framed for display in the theatre.  Finally, the first use of the propline saw two Harold’s flying down – both dressed resplendently in his favorite Mickey Mouse outfit from last year’s Ball.  The first was turned over and all who wanted to sign the back as a giant greeting for Harold were encouraged to do so.  The second will be given to the archives, Harold’s passion at the Arts Project.  Harold’s genius was celebrated roundly and well in the community he loves and it was an evening where we got to show him a bit of love in return.

Thank You To Our Arts Project Members and the Entire Cherry Grove Community!   



This is an open THANK YOU letter to everyone who participated in, enjoyed, and/ or contributed to the Harold Seeley Gala this past weekend.  I do hope you all had the opportunity to attend this very special tribute to Harold on August 7, 2010 and we certainly had a packed house!  It was an incredible event made possible by our wonderful presenters and performers who are all very talented.  Each and every one gave 110% from the heart to entertain our honoree and guests for the evening and we thank them sincerely!  

      As you know, the Gala was also a benefit for the theater rigging upgrades that the APCG Board of Directors has undertaken this season.  I am thrilled to announce that the Gala has raised

$ 13,050.00 to date!  The level of gratitude from the community for Harold's 34 years of continuous service to the Arts Project simply cannot be overstated and the funds raised as a result of the Gala are a tribute to the generosity of both Harold and our Arts Project supporters.  We will continue to accept donations in honor of Harold for the theater rigging initiatives throughout the remainder of the season.  Please see any board member or myself if you would like to contribute.  Or just stop by the APCG ticket booth during regular box office hours to make your donation and note that it is for the Harold Seeley tribute.  We will use these gifts specifically for the theater rigging work.

      The board of directors and I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and continued support.  Together we are making

great things happen and our efforts certainly would not be possible without you!


With Sincere Thanks,


               Michael Coffindaffer, President