At LA PALESTRA, we believe rituals and traditions reinforce community.
Each year, members of LA PALESTRA are offered the opportunity to train for any number of events: Triathlons, mountaineering, road races, trekking, bike trips, hiking, a marathon, or something entirely new. For renewed inspiration, the LA PALESTRA tradition demands the constant influx of new events, new goals, and new horizons. Goal-oriented training with an emphasis on effort, along with the support and encouragement from trainers and teammates, results in people finding themselves able to surpass self-perceived limitations. The fact that people test themselves, and excel beyond their expectations, changes the way they see themselves, forever. This experience is a hallmark of the community of LA PALESTRA.
The New York City Marathon Party
Situated just a few hundred yards from the finish line in Central Park, LA PALESTRA is the perfect location for marathon runners to meet up with their friends and family. On Marathon Day in 1994, LA PALESTRA was still under construction when six exhausted and elated first-time marathoners toasted their achievement with beer and pizza. In the years since, the Marathon Day party has expanded to become a huge celebration for hundreds of people: For the runners completing the race that day; the many dozens of runners from years past (all of whom pose in a commemorative photo); the small army of volunteers who wait along the route with fresh socks, drinks, and fruit; along with many other witnesses to this highly inspiring event and uniquely New York experience.
At LA PALESTRA, gathering together in a restaurant to commemorate effort and achievement is another way of reinforcing community. After the training is finished, and the class or event has been completed, a night out is planned for the participants, for eating, drinking, talking, laughing, and discussing future plans and new goals. For those training for the marathon, the runners traditionally go out for brunch after the completion of each week’s long run.
One very necessary part to every LA PALESTRA event is the many volunteers who support those competing during training and race day. Volunteers include those who want to experience the exhilaration of the event from the sidelines, those who are contemplating participation in the future, and veterans of the event who want to pass on their support, experience, and enthusiasm.
The LA PALESTRA Flag in Photos
Wherever LA PALESTRA travels for a mountain climb or a race, our flag goes too. Team members have been photographed with the red LA PALESTRA flag at Mt. Kilimanjaro, Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks, and the Eiffel Tower, among many other locations. Group photos commemorating the start or completion of various events are displayed on the wall in LA PALESTRA’s reception area, with new photos, featuring both new and familiar faces, added every year.
This tradition began before LA PALESTRA opened, when Pat Manocchia invited his clients over to his apartment for a home-cooked Italian feast. One long banquet table bisected the living room, Christmas tree lights provided the atmosphere, and people with so much in common finally had the opportunity to meet one another, elbow to elbow, passing around heaping plates of food, and making many toasts. Once LA PALESTRA opened, this Holiday Party expanded in scope to become a fundraiser for the Association to Benefit Children and The White Oak Conservation Center, but at heart, it’s still the dinner where everyone who shares in the experience that is LA PALESTRA sits down together in fellowship.
Each year, during the holiday party, awards are presented to honor the contributions of both members and staff. The Howard Gilman Award is given to one member for generosity, community spirit, volunteerism, and extraordinary contribution to the culture of LA PALESTRA. This award is voted on by the entire staff and must be unanimous. The Tenore Malone Award (named after two staff members who were employed by LA PALESTRA for ten years) is given for extraordinary commitment by an employee who has been with LA PALESTRA for ten or more years. And finally, the Mildred C. Manocchia Award is given to a staff member or a client for whom no detail is too small, no job is beneath them, no request is denied. It is presented to the person who has, for a period of three years, consistently maintained a “do whatever is necessary” attitude: purely and simply, the hardest worker.