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Long Islanders are planning family reunions again, both large and small

Rodney Ceant, right, organized a reunion of his

Rodney Ceant, right, organized a reunion of his father's side of the family in 2019. Now he's organizing an event for his mother's side of the family, planned for June. Credit: Jordan Alriche

When Andy Matz of East Northport envisioned his extended family finally reuniting after the pandemic, he wanted it to be a special occasion that would hit it out of the park.

So, it seemed perfect to rent a luxury box for a July Mets Game at Citi Field for the first time. Matz, 60, his younger brother, Bill, 58, of Manhattan, and their immediate families would load the bases, so to speak, since the Matzes’ parents, Neil, 85, and Terri, 84, left New York for Boca Raton in 2019.

"They went back to Florida expecting to be back in the spring of 2020," Andy Matz says. Everyone knows what happened next.

As for many families, time froze.

Now, with vaccines helping things to thaw, families are regrouping. For some, like the Matzes (no relation to former Mets pitcher and Long Island native Steven Matz), the reunion is with immediate extended families — parents, grandchildren, cousins.

For others, like Rodney Ceant, 35, who works in real estate management and lives in Mineola, it will involve branches of the whole family tree wearing matching reunion 2021 T-shirts. For still others, like Gary and Lisa Dvoskin of Melville, both 55 and lawyers, the reunion will be with the nuclear family — it’s been 19 months since the Dvoskins have seen their only child, Regan, 25, who is living in Cambridge, England. She’s finally coming home for three weeks in July.

MANSIONS AND SUITES

Ceant is planning a reunion for close to 100 relatives ages 5 to 78 on his mom’s side of the family for June 16 to 20 in Orlando. They’ve rented three mansions, each with 10 to 20 bedrooms, says Ceant, who is spearheading the gathering. Ceant is ordering matching family T-shirts from Let’s Craft in Westbury that say the last name of his maternal grandfather, Ferjuste, and the year, 2021 on the front; on the back, there’s a tree with exposed roots and the saying, "Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one."

Because the virus is still a risk, he says the events will be outdoors in a park where the families can have relay races, at the beach, and at the homes playing indoor games.

The Matzes will reunite around a shared family interest — Neil Matz, the patriarch, has been a Mets fan all his life and had season tickets as far back as 1965; his two sons attended the 1986 World Series. "We get asked all the time if we’re related to Steven Matz," Andy says. About 15 family members will share the box. "It’s like a fancy suite at Citi Field," Andy says, with seats right above field level and food provided. By the time of the game, the Matzes’ youngest generation won’t have seen their grandparents for close to two years.

'WORLD-RECORD' HUG

For the Dvoskins, reuniting will be something simpler, but no less festive. The Dvoskins haven’t seen Regan since December of 2019, when they flew to Glasgow, Scotland, for her graduation from a one-year computer science graduate program.

The parents were supposed to return to Europe in March of 2020 to help Regan relocate to Cambridge, England, where she had landed her dream job. "We wanted to go and be a part of helping her move," Lisa says. But the U.K. shut down and the plan had to be aborted.

Being a continent away from their child during a pandemic was excruciating, knowing that if their daughter got the coronavirus, they couldn’t get to her. But fortunately, Regan had become engaged to a man whose family lives in a suburb of London. "She has another set of parents over there. That took the worry off of me," Lisa says.

In July, Regan is coming to Long Island along with her fiance, Tom Cuffe. "I miss her so much, it’s as if someone cut off my right arm," Lisa says. "We kid around that we’re going to have to contact the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ because we’re going to have the longest, biggest hug in history."

While here, Regan will see her paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother, and will plan her wedding — she’ll have two ceremonies, one in the States and the other in England — and her fiance plans to meld their cultures by wearing a kilt and a yarmulke, Lisa says.

All the families are hoping that this summer marks the end of long separations. "Hopefully after we see her here," Lisa says, "we can get over there for the holidays in December."

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