Chief Edward V. Ecker, Jr. was feted as Montauk’s “” at an end of season gala hosted by the hamlet’s at on Thursday. A crowd of attendees who scored tickets to the event were treated to a full on comic roast, where Ecker, who was seated beside the podium with his wife Roxanne, was neatly poked fun at by a revolving cast of friends and family.
Chamber members agreed that the show could not have been more successful, thanks in no small part to Ecker, who is widely regarded for his affable sense of humor and tremendous interpersonal skills. Tickets had sold out well in advance, and less prepared partygoers were turned away at the door. The list of speakers – or “entertainers,” as it turned out – included government officials such as Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, as well as family members more than willing to dish dirt on the man of the hour.
Ecker’s daughters, Kari Shea and Karli Pena, immediately proved that a capacity for comedy is a family trait, reading a set of poems they had composed for their father that had the crowd in stitches. This was further evidenced when Ecker’s sister Catherine Ecker Flanagan, took the podium, describing the chief's childhood with a dramatic delivery that had the audience dying.
Musical entertainment included a sultry serenade by Betsy Bambrick, the town’s director of ordinance enforcement, who appeared in a wig, pork pie hat, and her “Lady Gaga shoes.” Later, a group of female family members known as “The Eckettes” sang and danced to a song tailored to Ecker in the tune of “Stop, In the Name of Love.”
Gordon Ryan, the Montauk defense attorney who is known as the man behind the infamous “I Know Eddie Ecker” bumper stickers, kept a howling yet captive audience for nearly 45 minutes. True to his trade, he backed up his speech with careful research, having interviewed scores of people to paint a laudatory portrait of the man of the hour, and even going so far as to consult with the FBI, an organization where Ecker had completed a law enforcement course in 1992.
As a matter of courtesy, he brought along a pair of insulated headphones, which he instructed the chief's mother, Fran Ecker, to don at several points during his less than savory speech.
George Watson, the owner of the , who claimed to have been Montauk’s first official Man of the Year, donned a headband made of police caution tape and wrapped up the circus with a slew of stories not fit for print.
The entire event was infectiously lighthearted, with nearly everyone and anyone jumping at the chance to take a shot at the man with the best sense of humor in the room. Even the Rev. Michael Rieder of , who delivered the invocation, could not help but slip a few jokes into his prayer, thanking God for “the service he has given us, and the parking tickets he has gotten us out of.”
Despite the jovial atmosphere, there was an ultimate tone of respect and admiration for Ecker, who has been preceded by both of his parents as person of the year, and has devoted countless hours of service to the people of Montauk.
Ecker Flanagan toasted her brother for “his happiness, his fulfillment in life, and his faithful service,” calling him a “peacemaker and problem solver,” where, perhaps most notably, “what you see is what you get.”