More than 300 people turned out at Branches on Thursday night for the Oceanport Sports Foundation gala holiday wine and food tasting.
The event featured samplings from area restaurants such as Drew's Bayshore Bistro, Johnny Piancones and CJ McLoones. LaRosa's Bakery was on hand serving up cannolis, and the students and faculty from Brookdale's Culinary Education Center were there cooking, baking and pouring samples of wine.
This is the fourth year of the event, the proceeds of which go mainly toward improvements of town sports facilities, such as the roller hockey rink at Blackberry Bay Park and the tennis courts at Trinity Park.
The foundation honored Dennis Drazin, operator of Monmouth Park, for the racetrack's part in the preparation and recovery from superstorm Sandy.
Mayor Michael Mahon recognized Drazen's part in allowing residents to park their cars there prior to the storm, "saving hundreds of cars" and for hosting utility vehicles and storm refugees.
Mahon and the foundation also honored Barbara Chachko, whose late husband Dave was the founding president of the sports foundation, which has donated more than $100,000 to Oceanport sports programs since 2002.
The Oceanport Sports Foundation "are can-do people," Mahon said. "You see it every time you step on the court at Maple Place and see it every time you step on the field at Gatta Park."
Mahon credited Dave Chachko's work, and his wife's support, to all the improvements the foundation has accomplished and dedicated the night to Dave's memory and the people at Monmouth Park.
A gift auction capped off the evening, with swanky prizes like a Coach bag that went to Anna Barfield and an iPad mini that went to Lynne Karinja.
But the best prize - a one week beachfront condo rental in North Carolina - went by chance, or by karma, as one resident said, to Barbara Chachko.