Jo-Ann Raia Hosts Huntington’s Annual Marriage ‘Marathon’

By Chris Mellides

Each Valentine’s Day for just over two decades, Huntington Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia has welcomed couples to Town Hall for the annual Valentine’s Day Marriage Ceremony Marathon.

“This is love’s greatest holiday,” Raia, the town’s marriage officer since 1989, said.

On Sunday, the town board room was once again transformed into a wedding hall in celebration of 11 couples that were joined in marriage before loved ones and friends.

“The joy I feel is making the couples happy,” Raia said.

An assortment of Valentine’s Day decorations including red paper hearts and cupid cutouts lined the walls, while flower bouquets were tastefully arranged in the corners of the board room.

In the center of the auditorium, an altar was erected where Raia greeted the couples before performing each civil marriage ceremony.

Katherine Kuntz and Jacob Deegan, both volunteer firefighters for Halesite and Greenlawn respectively, were among the couples at this year’s ceremony.

“What the town has done for us today is a lot more than we ever expected,” Kuntz said, adding that she and her husband dated for three years before their special day. They were amazed at the level of professionalism and organization at the event.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re in an auditorium at all,” Kuntz said.

This year’s festivities marked the 21st year that Raia, the event’s organizer, hosted the marathon. During that time, she has performed over 600 marriage ceremonies.

“They each get their own time slot and I thought it was a nice way to celebrate for the couples,” Raia said, adding that there is no charge for the ceremonies, and that the couples are free to invite guests to the reception. “It took a couple of years to really catch on, but I’ve had as many as 16 ceremonies on one Valentine’s Day, and over the years our merchant list has really expanded, which is really wonderful for the couples.”

Those local merchants included florists, bakeries and supermarkets, which donated flowers, cookies, cakes and gifts to make the event as festive as possible for the newlyweds.

The full list of this year’s merchants can be found below: 


Fashions in Flowers

809 Fort Salonga Road, Northport

Debi Triola, owner

15 nosegays for the brides



Beckman’s Florist

354 Larkfield Road, East Northport

Lisa Ketcham, owner

1 floral arrangement


Bunny’s Floral

31 Schwab Road, Melville

Judy Johnson, owner

1 floral arrangement


Funky Flower Shop

388 New York Ave., Huntington

Ricky and Michelle Von Hoffman, owners

15 individually wrapped red

carnations w/ baby’s breath for brides


Floras Avenue

233 Main St., Huntington

Akvile Zilinskis, owner

1 floral arrangement and

15 individually wrapped red roses

The Flower Petaler

550 New York Ave., Huntington

Meredith Russo, owner

Arch w/ flowers, 2 pedestals

silk flowers on top (on loan)


Flowerdale by Patty

1933 New York Ave., Huntington Station

Ana Patricia Flores, owner

1 floral arrangement


Decker Florist

841 Pulaski Road, Greenlawn

Victoria Domino, manager

1 floral arrangement


Hengstenberg’s Florist

39 Main St., Northport

Terry Folcarelli

15 individually wrapped red rose

in a tube w/ baby’s breath for brides


                                                            Laura’s Floral Elegance

2027 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport

John and Laura Merlein, owners

1 floral arrangement


Main St. Nursery & Florist

475 West Main St., Huntington

Bob McKean, owner

3 floral arrangements


Hummel Hummel Bake Shop

572 Larkfield Road, East Northport

Susan Fruendt, owner

10” square cake and tray of cookies


Reinwald’s Bakery

495 New York Ave., Huntington

Carole and Richard Reinwald, owners

15 trays with mini heart-shaped

cake and assorted cookies for couples


Wild Flours Bake Shop

11 New St., Huntington

C. Arcario and M. Mucci, owners

15 oversized chocolcate chip

cookies with a heart in chips

for couples

A Rise Above Bakery Shop

333 Main St., Huntington

Mary Murray-MacDonald, owner

Tray of assorted cookies


Copenhagen Bakery

75 Woodbine Ave., Northport

Stace and Fleming Hansen, owners

Three 8” heart-shaped decorated cakes,

Two 2-pound trays of assorted cookies


Everbest Bakery

396 Larkfield Road, East Northport

John Calabrese, owner

½ sheet cake


Value Drugs

349 New York Ave., Huntington

Peter Pastorelli, president

15 gift bags with assorted gifts

for couples

Rite Aid Pharmacy

391 W Main St., Huntington

Liliann Hallenbeck, manager

15 boxes of boxed Valentine

chocolates for couples



Sweeties Pies On Main

181 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor

Judy Hogan, owner

15 $20 gift certificates


Bon Bons Chocolatier

319 Main St., Huntington

Mary Alice and Susannah Meinersman

15 gift boxes containing


gourmet handmade chocolates

for couples


Herrell’s Ice Cream

46L Gerard St., Huntington

Cathy and Rick Meuser, owners

15 $10 gift certificate for couples


Good2Go Deli

147 Woodbury Road, Huntington

Michael Abatemarco, owner

Tray of sliced pound cake


                                                             Wild By Nature

369 W Main St., Huntington

James Speedling, manager

½ sheet cake



Stella Blue Bistro

188 New York Ave., Huntington

Jeannie Vivona and Robert Koopman

Trays of brownies, blondies and

heart-shaped linzer tarts

King Kullen Grocery

Store no. 40, 50 New York Ave., Huntington

Walter Bitz, manager

$25 gift certificate


Stop & Shop

60 Wall St., Huntington

Fred Meyers, manager

½ sheet cake chocolate mousse

w/ vanilla buttercream icing


Marketplace at Southdown

205 Wall St., Huntington

Mike Zotas, owner

$75 gift certificate



A Tisket A Tasket Anything

In A Basket


15 gift bags for couples

Cactus Salon & Spa Huntington

445 New York Ave., Huntington

10 $125 gift certificates