Brooklyn Boro Prez Appoints Bensonhurst Belle as Goodwill Ambassador for "Mae West Gala"

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- On August 17th, Maria Campanella Gives a Lesson on How to Talk Brooklynese at Mae West's Birthday Party -

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz tapped a beloved Bensonhurst native, Maria Campanella, to present his official greetings, a message that will open Mae West’s star-studded birthday gala on Wednesday August 17, 2005 at Bill’s Gay Nineties on East 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. Mae West was born on that date in 1893 in the Greenpoint section of Kings County when the area was an enclave of German-born brewmasters.

Mae’s parents [Bavarian native Matilda Delker Doelger and Anglo-Irish John West] moved frequently. They lived at the Astral Apartments on Franklin Street; at 137 Conselyea Street; at 421 Stanhope Street; on Herbert Street, Bushwick Avenue, Euclid Avenue; and elsewhere.

Maria Campanella travels in different circles, often in her ice cream truck, continuing an owner-operated business her father Angelo started over 60 years ago near Coney Island. Summertime, when the blonde beauty dishes up mountains of cold creamy mouthfuls, her route circles the Stillwell Avenue vicinity near Lafayette High.

More often, though, the Kingsborough Community College alumna is off to hotspots -— to help. After dark, for instance, she is the M.A.D.D.[Mothers Against Drunk Driving] Victim Advocate for Brooklyn, assisting at sobriety checkpoints with the Police Department. For the past decade, Campanella has volunteered on a D.A.T. [Disaster Action Team] Squad, lending a hand whenever the American Red Cross needs extra manpower during disastrous floods or fires. On September 11th, after terrorists struck the Twin Towers, Campanella was on the scene within hours, serving meals to firemen and rescue workers for months afterwards at Ground Zero.

The truck doubles as her welcome wagon from which she has scooped out a rainbow of help for many local charities. Campanella packs her truck with toys donated to needy kids at the Marlboro Housing Projects; she drives it to community board meetings; and she fills it with plants to adorn the public garden she created along the Belt Parkway through Adopt-A-Highway. She even saved an elderly man’s life by performing CPR after she spotted him, collapsed on the sidewalk along her route. Last winter, Campanella raised $11,000 for the Maimonides Comprehensive Cancer Center at a "roast" she helped to organize. In October, at a Gracie Mansion ceremony, Mayor Bloomberg presented Campanella with the Liberty Medal for Lifetime Achievement. In between her charitable events and do-gooder diligence, Maria Campanella is at work on a memoir that would give the inside scoop on being "the most fascinating ice cream lady," according to her admirers.

On August 17th, this goddess of goodness, dispatched by Brooklyn Borough Hall, will open the Mae West Gala with a stylish lesson on how to speak good Brooklynese. Join Maria Campanella at this fun-loving fundraiser in a former speakeasy and make a fuss over Mae West [1893-1980] on her birthday.

  • Come Up & See Mae on August 17, 2005 -

Mae West fans can purchase tickets to the August 17th fundraiser at $300 VIP admission including a giftbag (retail value: over $500); or $130 general admission.

Attire: Roaring 20s look or business attire.

Where: Bill’s Gay Nineties, 57 East 54th Street, NYC 10022; T 212-355-0243 or T 212-614-9683

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