FilAms brave icy weather to meet new Mayor Bill de Blasio

Sally Nunez thrilled at being photographed with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photos by Elton Lugay

Sally Nunez thrilled at being photographed with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

On January 5, thousands of New Yorkers braved the frigid arctic weather to meet the new mayor of New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio opened his official residence at Gracie Mansion to thousands of city residents, including a dozen Filipino Americans. The 6’5” former Public Advocate towered over the FilAms, bending his neck as he beamed with them for photographs. He wore a black suit with a yellow tie.

“He is so tall,” said beauty pageant director Erno Hormillosa. “They must have gotten rid of the old bed and brought in something more to his size.”

Sally Nunez, president of RN Express staffing agency for nurses and health care workers, said, “Meeting him was surreal. It went so fast I didn’t realize it was already over until I got out of the receiving room.”

Erno and Sally were among the FilAms who came to Gracie Mansion in early morning and lined up in the icy weather condition so they could get in by 10 a.m. The opportunity to meet the Mayor, is the “first event of its kind in recent memory,” said the press release.

A line had snaked around the Carl Schurz Park where the historic federal-style residence sits, surrounded by this vast garden of camellias, dogwood bushes and other greenery.

No one seemed to mind the bone-chilling temperature. People were patient, upbeat and chatting with each other, sharing expectations and thoughts of what to tell De Blasio during their split-second time with him. The guests came dressed in their warmest, some carrying umbrellas. Hot cider, coffee, and cocoa were made available to the guests, and heated tents welcomed the elderly who needed a respite from the cold weather.

There was no sighting of De Blasio’s famous family first lady Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

The press was supposed to be escorted in batches. I made a request to remain with the Filipino delegation so I could take their photos. The mayor’s team granted my request.

When our turn came, one by one we shook the mayor’s hand. No conversation was exchanged. All guests just smiled nicely with the mayor for the cameras. For some reason I missed his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg.

The Sunday open house concluded a week of inauguration events. The mayor’s office said it reflects an “unprecedented level of access and transparency” that would become the hallmark of de Blasio’s leadership.

“I’m thrilled to welcome New Yorkers from across the City into the People’s House,” said the 109th mayor of New York. “It’s been a pleasure sharing the inauguration with residents from all five boroughs, and I can’t think of a better way to end the week than by spending it with New Yorkers.”

Attendees were greeted by musical entertainment provided by Make Music New York and the NYCHA Youth Chorus. Musicians from Make Music New York included Grammy-nominated opera singer Christopher Dylan Herbert, jazz musician Jonathan Batiste, electric guitarists led by Patrick Grant, and traditional Afro Puerto Rican Bomba music led by the Bronx’s BombaYo and Brooklyn’s El Puente.

The Filipino delegation  at Gracie Mansion with the author (extreme right)

The Filipino delegation at Gracie Mansion with the author (extreme right)

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