Up Front and Personal

Emerald Ball Continues Tradition at New Site

by Brendan Cahalan

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to what is the oldest, continuously operating Catholic charity event of its kind in the United States. It is also one that may be new to many of you. It’s the Emerald Ball of the Emerald Association of Long Island which will be held this year on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Battery Gardens located in Battery Park in Manhattan.

The Emerald Association was founded in Brooklyn in 1839 and has operated since that time for the purpose of raising funds for the support of underprivileged children being cared for by the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The Emerald Association of Long Island has a 172-year history of supporting children and has evolved from support of needy children of Irish immigrants to offering help to any children in need, regardless of race, color or creed. These funds are raised through its annual Emerald Ball.

The ball was first held at Smith’s City Hotel in Brooklyn on Feb. 7, 1839, and raised the princely sum of $432. It was relocated to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan when it opened in 1932, and has always drawn some of the most prominent members of the Irish community in New York.

This year we are returning to our roots by holding the ball in Battery Park at Battery Park Gardens. The Battery was long the landing spot for immigrants to the United States before Ellis Island became the demarcation point for newcomers to America. It is humbling to think that this was the jumping off point for so many of our forefathers looking to make a better life for their families in the new land and freedom of America. Imagine the wonder and promise that awaited them.

While it must have been difficult for them to leave their homeland, the promise of a new and better life awaited them. That being the case, even in 1839 the Catholic lay founders of Emerald did not forget those who were the less fortunate of these new Americans. That tradition continues to this day, 172 years later.

It is humbling to be a part of such a unique group of men and women and even more so to be the current president of the Emerald Association. I follow a long line of distinguished Irish-Americans and others of the Diocese of Brooklyn in carrying on this tradition. As a child of Irish immigrants, this honor carries a special significance for me personally.

It is inspiring to think that such iconic symbols of New York as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the many skyscrapers of the New York skyline were preceded by the charitable work of The Emerald Association of Long Island by as many as 90 years.

Over its long and proud history, the Emerald Association has been a grassroots effort by the unpaid volunteers who come together to devote their time and energy to provide financial support to Catholic child care. For more information about Emerald, go to our website at www.EmeraldassociationLI.com.

But more importantly, I would ask you to show your support for children in need by attending the 172nd Emerald Ball or participating in our annual journal. If you wish to attend The Ball or support the Journal, contact me at brendancahalan11@gmail.com or call 516-993-9476.