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Virtual pizza parties in East Rockaway offer fun one slice at a time

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Looking to do something to keep themselves entertained and bring people together during the coronavirus quarantine, East Rockaway residents Autumn and Violet Roth came up with a delicious idea.

With the help of their mother, Rebecca Roth, they contacted friends and began hosting “pizza parties for pals,” virtual hangouts where they and their friends eat pizza and have fun. After their initial small parties were a hit, the sisters decided to do something more by expanding the events and getting local businesses involved.

On May 15, they hosted their biggest party yet, and East Rockaway business Grandpa Tony’s helped the cause, donating 150 pizza kits. Additionally, staff at the restaurant went virtual and provided a step-by-step guide video for viewers to make their own pizza pies. In all, about 50 families participated and two people were lucky enough to earn the “golden ticket” prize of a $50 gift card to the restaurant.

“The kids had an absolute blast,” their father, Vince Roth said, noting that his son, Oliver, 3, also got in on the fun. “They all made the pizza together on the Zoom video and then ate together like one huge pizza party. Even the adults were getting involved. Many people were creative adding toppings.”

Autumn, 10, is a fourth-grader at Rhame Avenue Elementary School, and Violet, 6, is a first-grader at the school.

“Autumn and Violet were thinking about something they could do to bring people together and help the community during this pandemic,” Roth explained. “They said they think love and fun is more contagious than a virus, so they were looking to do something that would make people happy and bring families together while we were under quarantine.”

Grandpa Tony’s owner Joseph Pasquaretto said his business has tried to help the community during the pandemic, including providing dinners to first responders and essential workers, and helping facilitate the first large virtual pizza party.

“When we heard of their idea, we thought it was wonderful and wanted to do whatever we could to support them and the community,” Pasquaretto said. “We think it’s important in these times to come together and help the people that have been so crucial in our success and do what we can to pay it forward.”

To get involved, residents can visit pizzawithpals.com to view upcoming events and order a pizza kit with a discounted code to save money. Once registered, they can pick the kit up at a designated time at the pizza place hosting the event. Then, they follow along on the site where the video will be posted or live streamed from the restaurant.

Roth said he is hopeful that they will have more pizza places get involved in the future. Money raised from the kits will also go toward pizzas for first responders and essential workers.