Rochester, NY

Rochester Celebrities Gathered To Celebrate New Christmas Book

Herbie J Pilato
From Left: Gabriel Pellegrino, Marti Casper, Diana Palotas, Herbie J Pilato, Thomas Warfield, Steve LyonsPhoto byThe Classic TV Preservation Society

Several local celebrities of Rochester, New York recently gathered at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble Bookstore to celebrate the publication of The 12 Best Secrets of Christmas: A Treasure House of December Memories Revealed.

The new book, by Herbie J Pilato, lovingly celebrates Rochester and its holiday past of the 1960s and '70s.

Those local celebrities appearing at the sold-out, standing-room-only event, which took place on December 20, 2022, included TV Diana Palotas, who served as host for the evening; radio Marti Casper, who moderated the Q&A with the audience, and musical performers Thomas Warfield, Steve Lyons, and Gabriel Pellegrino.

Palotas began her career as a news anchor/reporter, writer, and editor for CBS and NBC affiliates in Erie, Pennsylvania, her hometown. She moved to Rochester and became a founding journalist of our city’s only 24-Hour News Channel, then-named R-News. She was the main anchor of the evening news, the Business News reporter, and the creator of the daily segment "With Your Health in Mind." She later co-hosted and produced The CEO Hour, a live weekly radio for business executives and entrepreneurs. She served for six years as the Director of Advancement for the Trinity Montessori School and presently serves as the Director of Development for Lifespan of Rochester, which provides remarkable services for older adults and their caregivers.

Joining Palotas was Casper, an eclectic radio personality of over four decades. Her dazzling voice has graced the airwaves in her hometown of Auburn, Geneva, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, where she is a Midday Personality on 98.9 The Buzz. She was also an On-Air Personality and Public Affairs Director at Legends 102.7 in Rochester, and several radio stations in Buffalo, including WUFX-FM. She’s provided voiceover work commercials and appeared at numerous live events. She’s also a Spin Power instructor at Schotland YMCA, right here in Pittsford, and is actively involved with several non-profit organizations in the Rochester area.

On keyboards and vocals, was super-talent Pellegrino who, for the last 35 years, has served as the Director of Music at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Penfield. He’s performed in and has worked as the Vocal Music Director for several Rochester area community theatre groups; he is an archivist and scholar of Broadway music; holds a fondness for family-oriented TV, and since 1988, has worked throughout the Rochester Public Library in several esteemed librarian positions.

On guitar and vocals, was Lyons, a dynamic Rochester-born talent and musical legend who has performed and written songs for over five decades. Though renowned for his work with popular bands such as Mitty and the Followers, The Legendary Dukes, The Enerjets, King Juke, and more, he’s recently returned to his solo roots in country and folk music. His repertoire includes songs by John Sebastian, Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Johnny Cash, among others, as well as several of his original compositions.

The entertainment began with Warfield, a multi-hyphenate creative who has performed and taught in over 100 cities in the USA and around the world. For the last 25 years, he’s served as Director of Dance in the Department of Performing Arts at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. He’s the Founder and Artistic Director of PeaceArt International, an outreach project that fosters world peace. He serves on the board of numerous organizations, is a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ Rights, Racial equity, HIV/AIDS research, and is the recipient of countless awards and grants including those from the National Endowment of the Arts to the Eastman School of Music’s Centennial Award.

Warfield performed "Christmas Time Is Here," one of the many beloved songs from TV’s classic animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Pellegrino performed "There's Always Tomorrow," from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, another TV classic. Lyons closed the show with a rousing edition of "Holly Jolly Christmas," which is also from the cherished Rudolph TV special.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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