A special day at the lobster bake

Mike Petrucelli of Milford spent many years with the Milford Rotary and many years working at the annual lobster bake, which was held this past Saturday.

But it had been awhile since Petrucelli managed to get to the event he had devoted so much time to because he’s getting up there in age. He’s 92, and it’s getting harder for him to get around.

His children remember when they were young that their father would be gone most of the day on lobster bake day. He’d return home, said his daughter Anne Isler, and then he’d go back again to help clean up.

This year his family surprised him on Saturday with an outing to the lobster bake. It was granddaughter Phoebe Isler’s idea.

“I talked it out with my parents, and it evolved,” she said. “We thought it would be great for the whole family to come down.”

The family told Mike and his wife, Bette, that they were going to the Isler’s house in Fairfield for a macaroni dinner. Bette said she was surprised when her son-in-law, Hans, drove to downtown Milford instead, and pulled into Milford Boat Works, where the lobster bake was getting underway.

Son John Petrucelli came to town from New Hampshire with his children, telling his parents that they were driving through on their way to look at colleges. Of course, that wasn’t true. John and the family showed up at the lobster bake too.

Bette said it was a big surprise, and Mike agreed.

In addition to granddaughter Phoebe; daughter, Anne, and son, John, and Anne’s husband, Hans, family members who attended were grandson Erich Isler, granddaughters Hayley and Madeline Petrucelli, and their boyfriends, and Bette’s brother and sister, Anthony LaBarba and Gloria Arsenian.

The family said Mike had been involved in the lobster bake since its inception, and they thought that this being the 40th year would make the surprise even more special for him.

Mike Petrucelli is a long-time community activist.

In 2013 the Milford Columbus Committee named him Milford’s Italian American of the Year. Petrucelli has always believed in giving back to society. He said it’s not enough to just live your life; you have to take part in your community.

He and his wife have served as Eucharist ministers at St. Mary’s Church. He is co-founder and past president of the Milford Columbus Committee, past chairman of the tax review board, served on several committees and was one of the founders of the Community Chest, which later became Milford’s United Way.

He volunteered at Milford Hospital; he was active in the Republican Town Committee for many years and was a longtime member of the Chamber of Commerce.

He served as treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Council on Aging, and is a past recipient of Milford’s Living Treasure Award.

Mike managed a sport shop until 1956, when he opened his own business, Town Squire, Ltd Men’s Shop, on River Street. In 1961 he relocated to the Milford Bank and Trust Building at 22 River Street, now occupied by Milford Photo. He retired in 1988.

Mike said he enjoyed many years working at the Rotary’s lobster bake and he was happy to be back on Saturday.

The Milford Rotary served up about 3,200 lobsters at this year’s event. Proceeds benefit Milford Rotary charitable endeavors, including scholarships.