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Love Is in the Air on Staten Island’s North Shore

IMG_0507Every February 14th, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. Long celebrated as a day of romance, February 14 is usually a day dedicated to expressing one’s affection for their loved ones.

However, unfortunately, this day of love can also prove to be stressful, as people tend to set or attempt to meet extremely high Valentine’s Day expectations.

Whether you are planning a grand gesture of romance or have something simple yet meaningful in mind, there are plenty of places throughout Staten Island’s North Shore that can help those who are hoping to make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one.

The History Behind the Valentine’s Day Holiday

Most people are aware of the legendary story of St. Valentine: a third-century priest who illegally performed marriages for young couples, at a time in ancient Rome when the emperor thought single men made better soldiers than men with wives and families. Valentine continued to perform marriages for couples in secret, and when he was found out, he was ordered to be put to death.

In the late 5th Century, Pope Gelasius declared an ancient Roman fertility festival (that took place on February 15) “un-Christian,” and instead, officially declared February 14 as “St. Valentine’s Day,” after the martyred priest.

Since then, the traditions of Valentine’s Day have spread and evolved with slight variations and even more symbolism: cupid’s arrow, red roses, pink hearts, lovebirds, even the small tokens and notes that are exchanged (we call them valentines), all have interesting cultural origins and meanings that date back thousands of years.

Celebrating on Staten Island

So, what are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? If you’re still stuck on how what to do this February 14, below are some of my favorite North Shore businesses that may be able to help make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one.

Flowers

Growing up in the floral industry, I always spent my Valentine’s Day working. My specialty was making floral arrangements on-the-spot for customers looking for a unique and customized arrangement for their loved ones.

That being said, I know for a fact that Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without red roses.  Red roses are the traditional symbol for love and romance; red being a color that has always symbolized life and deep emotion. Want to send the strongest message of love? Send red roses.

Other roses have significant meanings as well. The pink rose symbolizes grace and elegance, and is often given as an expression of admiration. The yellow rose brings feelings of warmth and happiness and is usually associated with friendship. White roses represent innocence and purity and are often times associated with marriages and new beginnings. Orange roses represent desire and enthusiasm and can be a sign of passion and fervent romance. Lastly, lavender roses are a symbol of enchantment, and are often used to express that feeling of “love at first sight.”

Staten Island’s North Shore is full of florists that are there to help you send the perfect message of love. Check out some of my favorite places:

Sam Gregorio’s Florist: 814 Forest Ave (718) 447-7673

Clark’s House of Flowers: 1875 Victory Blvd (718) 442-6453

Chocolates

IMG_5828The exchange of chocolate and candy actually started in England during the Victorian age, when love-birds obsessed with courtly love showered each other with elaborate gifts. During this time, Richard Cadbury (recognize the name?) had perfected his family’s chocolate recipe, and used Valentine’s Day as a way to sell his chocolates in some of the first ever heart-shaped boxes.

These boxes were adorned with cupids, roses and other embellishments, and were designed by Cadbury himself.  After the chocolates were consumed, the beautiful boxes were used to store mementos or exchange love letters. Thus began the tradition of exchanging chocolates, also a reported aphrodisiac, on this special day.

If you’re looking to share some sweets with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, you should check out some of my favorite North Shore places:

Lee Sims Chocolates

422 Manor Road (718) 448-9276

A Sweet Occasion:

368 Forest Avenue (718) 273-2707

Wine

IMG_6615There is no question about the link between wine and romance. If you’re looking to celebrate with a toast (or more) on this February 14th, check out these locations. The owners there are wonderful and will surely help you pick out the perfect wine for the occasion.

Honor Wines:

36 Bay Street (718) 954-0452

Jean’s Fine Wines & Spirits:

642 Forest Avenue (718) 815-7600

Dinner

Whether you are planning a romantic dinner for two, or are looking for a reason to get a night out alone (couples with kids know all about this), there are many restaurants on Staten Island that have Valentine’s Day specials to commemorate this day of romance.  Here are just a few:

Blue Restaurant:

1115 Richmond Terrace (718) 273-7777

Enjoy a special three-course dinner and a beautiful view of the North Shore waterfront to celebrate this Valentine’s Day.

South Fin Grill: 300 Father Capodanno Blvd (718) 447-7679

Enjoy live music the entire weekend, a candlelit dinner, and a special Lover’s Brunch on Sunday.

Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria: 1758 Victory Blvd (718) 981-0887

Looking to dine-in? Joe and Pat’s heart-shaped pizza puts a romantic spin on an otherwise casual dinner.

Unique Expressions of Love

Make this a Valentine’s Day a memorable one by checking out one of these events taking place on Staten Island this upcoming weekend.

Valentine’s Day Couples Welding at Staten Island MakerSpace: 

Get creative this Valentine’s Day! Get an introduction to MIG (metal inert gas) welding and use a plasma cutter to cut and create your own Valentine’s Day gesture. Couples will also enjoy a champagne toast at the end of the class. For more information, visit www.simakerspace.com.

“Romance.com” at Full Cup: 388 VanDuzer Street (347) 562-4496

Join Full Cup as they host the cast of “Romance.com,” an original musical about online dating, for three weekends starting February 14. Check out www.FullCupSI.com for more details and reservations. Also check out the video interview http://youtu.be/-ddilQvKIrg

“Valentine’s Day Doo-Wop Spectacular” at The St. George Theatre: 35 Hyatt Street (718) 442-2900

Enjoy an evening of vocal rhythm and blues at the St. George Theater on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8pm as Rrazz Entertainment, Inc. brings a “Valentine’s Day Doo-Wop Spectacular” to Staten Island.

The Al Lambert Trio at Lorenzo’s Cabaret, Hilton Garden Inn:

1100 South Avenue (718) 477-2400 extension 5.

The Al Lambert Trio will appear in Lorenzo’s Cabaret on Valentine’s evening from 6:30-10:30pm. Guests will enjoy a three-course dinner. Overnight accommodations are also available and include champagne and a buffet breakfast.

For Kids

Looking for something to do with your kids this Valentine’s Day? Celebrate your love for your little ones at The Staten Island’s Children Museum (1000 Richmond Terrace), where they will be hosting a special Valentine’s Day version of “Kidz Cook.” Kids 5 and up will get the chance to celebrate the love-filled holiday with a decadent Willie Wonka chocolate fountain.

Or, take them out for dinner and ice cream, candy and novelties at Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor, located at 1194 Forest Avenue in West Brighton or 7437 Amboy Road in Tottenville.

Although over the years Valentine’s Day has stirred up some controversy (why do we  reserve only one day per year to express our love and affection for someone?), and has become extremely commercialized (making us think we have to go “above and beyond” year after year), Valentine’s Day always will be a day symbolizing love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you find yourself on Staten Island for this special holiday and fall in love (that is, with Staten Island), please don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook or Twitter. My website is also full of helpful information about the different North Shore neighborhoods, local businesses, news and events. Check out North Shore Buzz for video interviews and home-buying tips. Find out why so many people are falling in love with Staten Island!

I hope to meet up with you soon!

St. George Courthouse Garage and Parking Lot

parking

Centrally located in the heart of St. George, this Department of Transportation operated Municipal parking lot is conveniently positioned near many St. George attractions and government buildings, including the Staten Island Ferry, Richmond County Ballpark, the Courthouse, and Borough Hall. Located at 54 Central Avenue, the parking garage contains 719 spaces, including 35 spaces for people with disabilities.

It also includes charging stations for electric vehicles. It is well lit and always manned during hours of operation, which are from 6am-10pm, Monday thru Friday, from 8am-midnight on Saturday, and 8am-8pm Sundays. The rates are: $1.75 for up to one hour, $2.00 for additional hours, with an $8.00 maximum. The special event rate is $7.00. All DOT parking facilities accept credit card payment, NYC Parking Cards and coins. Monthly permits are also available by contacting the garage manager, Parking Systems Plus, at 718-524-1190.

National Lighthouse Museum

National Lighthouse Museum: Still without a home, supporters of the National Lighthouse Museum have their sights set on St. George, Staten Island as a place to call home. The museum’s goal is to celebrate and enhance the historical significance and maritime heritage of lighthouses throughout the United States by collecting, preserving, and interpreting objects related to the history and technology of lighthouses from sites all over the country. The museum will contain indoor and outdoor exhibits, interactive displays and an educational resource center suitable for children and adults.

The museum also hopes to serve as a contact point for public inquiry and assistance with respect to American lighthouse research, history, education, collections and programs. Located adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, the museum also plans to celebrate American lighthouse heritage through educational programs, publications, films, festivals, living history, lighthouse trails, conferences and other offerings. For more information, visit www.lighthousemuseum.org.