CROTON FALLS, N.Y. — The place to be on Saturday night was the new Croton Falls Firehouse where the Ladies Auxiliary held its annual Penny Social.
Treasurer Kathy Magnuson, a 55-year member of the Auxiliary, said that nowadays there are not as many members as there used to be, but they still see a few fresh faces every year.
One of the new members is Croton Falls native Monique Senese who recalled how her mother would sometimes leave the dinner table to bring food to the the guys out fighting a fire. As a child Senese planned to join her mother in the Auxiliary when she grew up. But she never did. Her mother, Joanne Coschignano, passed away last fall so Senese finally joined the Ladies Auxiliary in tribute. Senese’s six-year-old daughter, Lorelai, added, "I want to join when I grow up. I'm going to join when I'm nine."
Member Jaci Maurer joined "just to do something for the community," she explained. "I like to do new and interesting things." Maurer recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
The concept of a Penny Social is simple, said Maurer. When you enter you buy a bundle of tickets for a penny each. Then you circulate through the room, choosing items of interest and "bidding" on them by placing any number of your tickets in the nearby cup.
Later in the evening a single winning ticket is pulled from each cup and the winner is announced. The more tickets you dispense for any particular item, the greater your chances of winning. You may have paid one penny for each ticket, but the pennies turn into dollars.
Items range from household goods, clothing and toys to DVDs and memorabilia. Raffle tickets are sold for more expensive items donated by local businesses as well. Special items this year included tickets to Brewster's Empire Theater, a basket of goodies from Pound Ridge's Scotts Corners Market, and assorted pies from local orchards: Stuart's, Salinger's and Harvest Moon.
People get to sip and sup as they circulate. "I've been making my special chili for this event every since I became president about 13 years ago," said Ann Morley, who grew up in a small English fishing village. "This is a fine night out. It's a real tribute to old-fashioned values and good old-fashioned fun."