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‘Mr. Amagansett’ pageant raises $5,000

Ken Wessberg rides a tricycle around the Stephen

Ken Wessberg rides a tricycle around the Stephen Talkhouse during the Mr. Amagansett Pageant. (Feb. 11, 2011) Credit: Patty Sales

Former East Hampton Town Chief Building Inspector Donald Sharkey, who died of a heart attack in 2009 at age 46, was often referred to as “Mr. Amagansett,” friends say.

At the time of his death, he had spent more than 20 years with the town Building Department and was a member of the Amagansett Fire Department and Ambulance Squad. He seemingly was friends with just about everyone, said East Hampton resident Patty Sales.

“Everyone has a Donnie story,” Sales said.

The endearment takes on a greater meaning now, as the name of the charity event set up in Sharkey’s honor. Sales helped organize the second annual Mr. Amagansett Pageant that took place Friday at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.

The pageant, and other fundraisers held throughout the year, benefit the Donald T. Sharkey Community Memorial Fund, which was established by Sharkey’s friends after his death.

Sales said 10 contestants competed this year, among them were Suffolk County Legis. Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, and staff from the Stephen Talkhouse, including Peter Honerkamp, the bar’s managing partner; Nick Kraus, promoter; and bartender Larry Wagner.

After a “Talent or Toga” contest, Ken Wessberg was crowned the winner. Sales said Wessberg rode a high-ride, an antique bicycle with a large front wheel and small back wheel, up and down Main Street in Amagansett for an hour before taking stage during the competition.

But to make things more interesting, Sales presented him with a Big Wheels tricycle, which he then rode around on stage, a spectacle that earned the East Hampton Fire Department member this year’s crown.

After being crowned, Sales said Wessberg led a conga line around the packed bar while wearing a white bathrobe with an embroidered red “A” and carrying a golden clam rake. Providing the music: Schneiderman on the drums.

“Only in Amagansett would you find the county legislator playing the drums while there is a conga line being led by someone in a bathrobe,” she said.

Sales said the event raised $5,000 for the fund, which benefits charities and individuals in the community like the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, local fire departments, families in need, and soon, a scholarship for students at the East Hampton High School.

The organizers of the fund felt that Sharkey was always wiling to support anyone in need, so the fund should do the same.

“He would take care of anybody in need,” Sales said. “So it was kind of like a, ‘What would Donnie do?’ sort of thing.”

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