By Jill Spotz
583 Park Avenue was aglow with maroon and white on Thursday as Lafayette celebrated the season at the third annual NYC Holiday Party. More than 550 alumni, parents, and friends gathered on the Upper East Side along with faculty, coaches, and staff to enjoy festive conversation and the opportunity to reconnect.
“There hasn’t been this many Lafayette people together since we gathered in New York for the 150th [Lafayette-Lehigh] game,” said President Alison Byerly in her opening remarks. “Thank you for being such wonderful supporters of the Lafayette community.”
Among the many alumni in attendance was Matthew Pagano ’09, who serves as treasurer of the New York City Chapter of the Alumni Association. Pagano was most looking forward to seeing friends and faculty.
“With nearly 600 attendees, I was very impressed that alumni were coming not only from Easton but areas farther afield like Philadelphia,” he said. “I try to attend all the NYC alumni events, but the holiday party in particular has become a wonderful tradition and time when alumni, faculty, and staff convene to recognize how fortunate we are to be part of this unique, precious community… and to catch up with each other, of course!”
For Paul ’74 and Susan Russoniello ’76, the holiday party was an opportunity to network with fellow alums. “For both of us, Lafayette offered an opportunity for social and intellectual growth and a transition from our youth into adulthood,” said Paul. “We enjoy still being a part of that community and taking advantage of some of the opportunities that connection still offers.”
A theme that resonated throughout the evening with alumni of all ages was the sense of community that Lafayette cultivates. Ashley Ellis ’16 was looking forward to attending her first Lafayette holiday party as an alumna. “I’ve seen that the Lafayette community remains just as welcoming and generous as in my first days as a prospective student,” said Ellis.
For Brian Sliwinski ’08 and his wife, Lauren Huntington ’09, Lafayette is a place held dear for many reasons. “Lafayette was our home away from home and has resembled all the great qualities of family one would want including friendship, partnership, education, and discipline,” said Sliwinski. “Most importantly, Lafayette was a landscape for personal growth and development.”
The evening concluded with closing remarks from Lisa Kassel ’79, president of the Alumni Association, and a group performance of the alma mater led by Jennifer Kelly, associate professor of music and director of choral activities and the arts.