Hoboken fans celebrate Frank Sinatra's 99th birthday
On Dec. 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, Italian immigrants Natalina "Dolly" Garaventa and Antonino Martino Sinatra welcomed a new baby boy into the world.
As they held their only child in their arms, dreaming of what his future held, the couple likely never imagined that their Frankie would grow up to become an international music icon whose voice would resonate even a century after his birth.
With Frank Sinatra's 99th birthday today, fans all over the world are remembering the legend and his music, including those in his hometown, the Mile Square City.
One of the biggest events celebrating on Ol' Blue Eyes' big day is on Sinatra Drive at Little Town, at 310 Sinatra Drive.
At the 5 p.m. shindig, Eric DeLauro of the Rat Pack Band Swing Orchestra, who won the Sinatra Idol singing contest in Hoboken in 2008, will perform some of Sinatra's biggest hits.
DeLauro, whose family lived in the same house as the Sinatras, says he feels connected to the great singer through their shared heritage and Hudson County roots.
"It's really extraordinary that a guy went from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Hudson County to becoming an international phenomena," said DeLauro. "He was the first 'American Idol,' and I think the thing that propelled him ... was his Hudson County tenacity and resilience."
In addition to singing Sinatra tunes at various events, DeLauro also offers music history presentations at schools, inspired by the Hobokenite.
"We think music is a great mechanism to help kids dream and inspire achievement," he said. "After all, he was just a little kid from Hoboken who had a dream."
Another Sinatra tribute singer who was also inspired by Sinatra as a young boy will perform at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., today from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Peter Cafasso, who won the first Sinatra Idol, which was held at the museum, says he's been listening to the Voice.
"His mother was a huge Sinatra fan and always had it playing in the house, and every time a new record came out, he'd take it to his room and practice singing along until he felt he mastered the songs," said museum spokeswoman Melissa Abernathy.
Abernathy says she was at the first Sinatra Idol, when about a dozen singers came.
"It was a really moving experience. There were so many fans who had grown up listening to Sinatra and for older fans it was like watching Sinatra come back to life," she said. "They had tears in their eyes and applauded like mad for every performer."
She adds that the museum is planning a big exhibit for Sinatra's centennial that will run from August to December 2015 and will incorporate memorabilia from fans--everything from an autographed record they waited hours for, to glasses from which he drank. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 201-656-2240 to lend an item for the exhibit.)
Abernathy says there's just something enduring about Sinatra and his music."He really understood how to make music and get a band to perform it at their absolute best--how to get them to play with the right emphasis and phrasing, and he really brings terrific feeling and style," she said.