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Love Story: Romance took flight in Kennedy Airport hangar

Elysa and Larry Parker of North Woodmere will

Elysa and Larry Parker of North Woodmere will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this year. Credit: Parker family

Elysa Parker remembers meeting her future husband, the man in the yellow tie.

In December 1987, while working as a special-education teacher in Howard Beach, I attended the annual holiday celebration at Kennedy Airport hosted by the Community Mayors of New York State with my class of 12 sixth-grade boys. (The celebration for special-ed students, now known as Operation Santa Claus, continues every December.)

That day, the Pan Am hangar was filled with thousands of children sitting at tables topped with treats and toys. There were parades and bands, and Santa arrived by helicopter through an opening in the roof.

The entertainment coordinators at center stage were Jerry Parker (my future brother-in-law) and Larry Parker (my future husband), who was wearing a blue shirt and yellow tie.

Despite the excitement, the children in my class were focused on the stage. “The man in the yellow tie is staring at you,” they kept telling me. I thought this was impossible since I was so far away, but the “man in the yellow tie” whispered to a Drake’s Cakes duck mascot, who then came over to my class for a photo. After that, “the man in the yellow tie” whispered to a famous wrestler, who came over to shake my hand. My class was screaming with excitement at what was unfolding.

When we were leaving, my boys started screaming, “the man in the yellow tie is coming over.” And he did. Larry asked me, “Are you married?” My students, yelled, “No, she’s single!” I didn’t give Larry my number, but I told him that he could find me at the school. And he did.

I also worked part time for the New York City Board of Education (now the Department of Education). Larry was as an administrator/enrollment officer for the board, and his office was in Downtown Brooklyn across the street from mine. On our first date we walked hand in hand to lunch at the restaurant at Abraham & Straus, the department store.

We were married Nov. 26, 1989, at Temple Hillel in North Woodmere by Rabbi Morris Friedman, famous for hosting President Ronald Reagan at his home after the president visited the synagogue in 1984. Our guests included the Kutsher family, owners of the famous Catskills resort and a camp where Larry worked as director.

Larry was originally from Flatbush, Brooklyn, and he thought we should live in Brooklyn. I was from Cedarhurst, and I explained that most people moved to the Five Towns from Brooklyn, not the other way around. I won the argument, and after a honeymoon in St. Maarten, we settled in Woodsburgh.

Four years later, I was shopping in Costco with my baby Bradley (now 28). The cashier, a former student, recognized me and was excited to see his “favorite” teacher. He asked whatever happened to “yellow tie,” and I told him that not only did I marry “yellow tie,” we had a “baby yellow tie.”

We’ve lived in North Woodmere for 23 years and have two wonderful sons. I retired from teaching after 30 years in 2014. My husband retired in 2015 after 37 years at the DOE.

We are active volunteers at Temple Hillel, helping to plan activities and events. Larry is on the temple board, and I work with him behind the scenes. We make a great team.

If you ask my husband whether he was staring at me at that holiday event, he’ll deny it. But I know better, especially since his brother Jerry confided to me that he told “yellow tie”: “that’s the girl for you!” After years of singles bars, singles weekends and personals, I met my future husband when I wasn’t looking!

Who knew?

— With Laura Mann

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747; or email ann.smukler@newsday.com, or call Ann Donahue-Smukler at 631-843-2520. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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