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Love Story: Hank and Joanne Paczkowski of Manhasset Hills

Joanne Paczkowski of Manhasset Hills recalls how she and husband, Hank, happily braved the elements on their engagement day.

With the recent closing of Tavern on the Green in Central Park,my husband, Hank, and I were reminiscing about our engagement dinner there during the blizzard of '83.

We first met at a Valentine's Day singles dance at the Cresthaven Country Club in Whitestone, Queens, in 1982.

Hank played in bands and had stopped in with his friend to listen to the music. His friend also met his future wife that day.

Hank and I started talking, danced a few times and really got along. He took my number, and we went out the following week. I lived in Woodside, Queens. He didn't know where Woodside was. He was from Floral Park.

Hank and I started dating, and by Christmas we knew we were going to get married. We decided to get engaged on Valentine's Day weekend a year after we met. Hank made reservations at Tavern on the Green for Saturday night. On Friday the snow started to fall, and by nightfall we were in the midst of what would be called the Blizzard of '83. Almost 2 feet of snow had blanketed the city by the next day. Hank spent the day digging out his car so he could pick me up at my home.

With no traffic on the roads, it was easy to get into Manhattan. Trains weren't running, and the city was deserted. We got engaged over dinner in the Crystal Room. Outside, snow was still falling and after dinner, we went for a walk in Central Park. It was a winter wonderland with the snow glistening in the dark and the diamond ring sparkling on my finger. It was and still is a beautiful memory!

Our wedding day was Aug. 20, 1983, at St. Sebastian's Church in Woodside, and the weather was just the opposite. We were in the midst of a heat wave.

Hank and I have been blessed with three wonderful children. For our 25th anniversary, they sent us back to Tavern on the Green for dinner and then surprised us with a cruise! Over the years, our family vacations have included many cruises to different ports, including in the Caribbean, Europe and even Alaska.

We still celebrate Valentine's Day each year as our meeting day and engagement day and know that together we can meet with the blessings and blizzards that come our way in life.

Hank is a program director and electrical engineer at Bren-Tronics in Commack. I am a teacher, having taught at St. Mary's School in Woodside, in the Herricks school district on Long Island and as educational director at a preschool.


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