Night in Venice has turned into a normal part of my life. Just like a birthday or an anniversary, our family has been decorating our bayfront home for so many years it’s hard to imagine a time that we would not decorate the house.

As a family, we started choosing different themes in 1966, and every year we have strived to create something different and not duplicate a theme. It all started with my grandparents, Walter and Betty Evans. The tradition continued with my parents, Neil and Cynthia Kelly, and now has turned over to my husband and me, Rob and Kimberley Cocchi.

For the past several years it has been a true team effort. We work together along with my brother Kevin Kelly, my nephew Jace Kelly, my cousin and her husband Veronica and Todd Fath and my childhood friend and her husband Karin and Carl Wanek. We rally together to clean, to party plan, to decorate and of course to celebrate! We have our annual breakfast to start the day at the Windjammer in Somers Point and from there we all come back to the house and spend the next couple hours decorating and cooking. We never cater; all our food has and always will be homemade!

Creating a theme party for many friends and family is something generations of our family has come to enjoy for well over 60 years. I think for most of us we look forward to Night in Venice more than we look forward to our own birthdays. It is a completely fun and enjoyable night that everyone on the island participates in. Thanks to the themes the party takes on, you get to lose yourself in different characters every year and just have a good time enjoying a fun and entertaining boat parade.

This year we are celebrating the roaring '20s with our favorite flapper and gangster costumes tailored to fit the humidity and the heat of a summer party. And we have already begun talks of what next year‘s theme is going to be, but we can’t let that cat out of the bag because it’s a secret up until summer of next year.

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