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Celebrating ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’

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February 12th, 2016
Ashby Ponds Frank Sinatra look-alike contestants
Ashby Ponds Frank Sinatra look-alike contestants

“Well, kids, if you must know, I was born on the twelfth day of the twelfth month, and I spent twelve years in the kindergarten,” joked Frank Sinatra during his 30th birthday radio broadcast in 1945. 

Honoring the man who many consider one of the most popular musical artists of all time, millions of people around the world celebrated what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday last December. Community members at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., planned a full week of activities to remember “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”

“It makes me happy to remember Sinatra,” says Yoska Lemair. “My favorite Sinatra song has always been, ‘I Did It My Way,’ but I love all of his songs.”

Lasting legacy

The Ashby Ponds celebration joined other festivities across the United States, including those in Hoboken, N.J., where Sinatra was born, and in Las Vegas where entertainers Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, and Celine Dion remembered “Frankie” in “Sinatra 100: An All-Star Grammy Concert.”

“I was a young teenager when the Frank Sinatra craze occurred,” says community member Nancy Eisenbise. “Young girls were actually fainting and swooning over this skinny guy. At the time I just didn’t get it. But over the years I realized what a really wonderful voice he had and appreciated his talent for entertaining. He only got better and better with age.”

The Ashby Ponds celebration kicked off with Sinatra Movie Day, featuring Guys and Dolls and The Manchurian Candidate.

Later in the week, more than 50 people joined in the celebration at the community’s Windows lounge as guitarist Tony Greenfield led a sing-along, playing Sinatra favorites like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and Sinatra’s signature melody “New York, New York.”

“It’s easy to see why Sinatra was so popular,” says Greenfield, whose mother Carolyn Greenfield lives at Ashby Ponds. “His music really resonates with people.”

As they sang, guests toasted the Hollywood icon over specially crafted Sinatra martinis. Eight fedora-sporting residents, including two women, participated in a Frank Sinatra look-alike competition. 

Jacque Hill, though she looked more like Frank’s daughter Nancy, received the most votes, winning a CD of Frank Sinatra classics.

“This is such a fun way to remember Sinatra,” says Jacque. “I really didn’t expect to win, but I’m thrilled that I did!”

Grand finale

The week’s festivities concluded with a performance by local performer and acclaimed Sinatra entertainer Billy Finch. Previously, Finch dazzled audiences at The Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, and the White House. More than 250 community members attended the performance at Ashby Ponds. 

Later that evening, a special dinner honoring Sinatra’s Italian heritage and his love of good food was served at Ashby Ponds’ two full-service restaurants. Guests enjoyed feasting on zuppa Toscana, an Italian sausage soup; oysters Rockefeller; clams Posillipo; veal Milanese; and zeppole and lemon mousse torte for dessert.

“The diversity of programs at Ashby Ponds truly reflects the diversity of the community,” says Nancy Eisenbise. “I am thankful to the diligent, creative staff members who think out of the box to plan fun events like Sinatra week. It’s one of the many reasons why Ashby Ponds is such a great place to live.”

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