Archives For Mohegan Sun Pocono

There are not a lot of photos from my trip last weekend and with good reason… or rather, reasons.

It’s funny because just today I was having a conversation with a colleague that centered around one of the causes; she asked me why I haven’t been as active lately on Snapchat. The app kind of runs clunky on my phone (yes, still the Android-driven BlackBerry Priv) but more so than that, I’m just trying to be more in the moment. And last weekend, which of course was another of the long variety for me, was about that: not worrying about documenting every little thing I did and instead just trying to enjoy the time I spent with friends.

For those wondering, that time was spent back in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a place I hadn’t visited since I threw out the first pitch at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game (Triple-A affiliate of my New York Yankees and defending National Champions). I showed up on Friday, hit up Wegmans to stock my buddy’s apartment with food for the weekend and then took an Uber downtown to a new restaurant called Terra Preta. The spot is very progressive for Scranton: craft cocktails, farm-to-table menu items and a gallery for local artists to showcase and sell work. I ended up purchasing this piece.


And if you know me and my love of Coldplay, you understand why. But also, I wanted to support a local artist and establishment. In cities all across the country, people want change but they don’t want anything to stay the same. You can’t complain that “there’s nothing cool to do” in an area but then when new, cool things open up simply refrain from supporting them.

We ended up visiting Terra Preta twice along with some other favorites of mine in the area: The Bog, Ale Mary’s and State Street Grill. There also may have been a stop at Sheetz and a trip or more to Mohegan Sun Pocono where I might have walked out ahead after a few hours of Blackjack.

But hey, no phones allowed at the tables so definitely no photos.

I walked out of my apartment on the Upper West Side to a SUV that had driven from Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Melissa, who works for the casino’s PR department and Angela “Big Ang” Raiola traveled from Uncasville to pick me up. We were headed to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, a property that Mohegan manages. The casino booked the “Mob Wives” star for a series of “Reality Check” events, and I was tapped to host the question-and-answer sessions in Atlantic City as well as Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes Barre.

When I hopped in to the car, I immediately noticed one person missing: Ang. She had walked across the street to my bodega for a pack of cigarettes. On the way back, a few fans stopped her for photos, and she happily obliged.

“So you live around here?” she asked me once we hit the road. I mentioned that I had been at my apartment for at the time, a little over a year. “Nice neighborhood. A lot of good brunch spots.”

There are many things I’ll never forget about that weekend; hearing Ang, in that trademark Staten Island drawl of hers, offer up Yelp-like reviews of the brunch options on the Upper West Side is certainly one of them.

Another was during the trip down I-95 to AC when we diverted to a rest stop for food. I wasn’t too hungry so I just grabbed a coffee; Ang wanted to hit up Auntie Anne’s. We finished our purchases and head back in to the car. Ang bought pretzel dippers with sauce. And if you know me and my eating habits, you know they usually don’t involve pretzel dippers, with or without the sauce.

“Honey you want one?” asked Ang. I politely declined. I could tell that she was a little annoyed but we continued making small talk.

She asked two more times before finally offering up a look that is all-too-familiar to fans of her show.

“No, really. Have one.”

Before I could respond the pretzels were right in front of my face.

If you’re like me and you grew up in an Italian-American household, you’re probably having flashbacks and rightfully so. Ang was a tough but loving mother from Staten Island; not one to mince words and always making sure those around her were taken care of.
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And like any good Italian mother, if she offered food, you’d better accept.

Despite our pit stop, we arrived in Atlantic City with time to spare, so we headed over to the outlets that are a stone’s throw from the boardwalk. Yes, I went shopping with Ang. She was looking for clothes to buy her grandkids (always taking care of others); I was just happy to spot H&M.

Being out in public with Ang was an experience in itself. It didn’t matter whether it was a bar, nightclub, store or open-air shopping center: the woman always became the center of attention regardless if she was seeking it or not. Not only did everyone know who Ang was, but everyone felt like they knew Ang. She was as authentic as they come, especially for reality TV, and that’s what endeared her to so many fans.

“Ooh look at you! You made out!” she exclaimed when she saw the amount of clothes that I purchased. Of course, Ang had accumulated a few bags herself.

The event in Atlantic City went well and the next day we took off for Wilkes Barre. Another part of the weekend that’s unforgettable: Ang was always on time. She enjoyed herself, but she knew that we were there to work too.

The trip from AC to Northeastern Pennsylvania was a long one. Traffic on a side road the driver took was brutal, and by that point in the weekend, Ang had grown a bit tired. We made it to Mohegan Sun Pocono just in time for the appearance and of course, it was the best of the weekend. Ang was in great spirits on stage, trading barbs with me and the crowd while sipping on an alcoholic beverage; it was Cinco de Mayo after all.

“I’m not here for a long time; I’m here for a good time,” she said during our chat at MS Pocono, one of the last quotes she offered up before we wrapped.

I surely won’t forget that either. She truly was one-of-a-kind and someone who lived life on her terms. Ang – thanks for the memories, and the pretzel dippers.

My summer weekend travels continued with a two-city trip. Following an all-nighter to update this blog, I hopped on a Saturday morning bus from New York to Scranton, Pa. My friend and colleague Danny picked me up, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and then chilled at his apartment for a few hours. On the docket for Saturday? Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Oktoberfest; a three-day, annual event in Northeastern Pennsylvania that features music, food and about every Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beer you can think of.

What I’m saying is, I was in Heaven.


This was before I took a sip of Susquehanna Pumpkin Ale, my first of well, a couple beverages.

ANYWAYS – the awful weather in NEPA on Saturday did not affect us in the least bit. My friends and I had a great night, which ended with a few hands of Black Jack and some Domino’s to-go.

I slept a little Saturday night, then caught a 7:20 a.m. ride out of Scranton to Atlantic City, N.J. The Martz bus dropped me right off at Resorts Casino for my second destination of the weekend. After a bit of contemplation, I decided it would be fun to “Do AC” for the Miss America competition, which was co-produced by my friends in dick clark productions.


I checked in to my room, ran 3 miles on the Boardwalk and changed in to my Bills shirt before catching some football (and a nice Bills win!) at a local sports bar. My plan was to then make my way to the local baseball field where a seafood festival was taking place. Instead, a torrential downpour forced me to call an audible, and an Uber. I suited up, called another Uber and made my way to Boardwalk Hall.
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My original plan was to attend with Danny but due to work obligations he bailed. The fine folks at dcp hooked up a credential, so I decided to join my Cumulus cohort Erika Grace Powell on the red carpet and assist with her evening.


EGP killed it!


After the carpet wrapped, we headed inside the Hall to catch the pageant. I had judged at the state level for Miss USA, but had never attended a national event. There were so many great moments – between Vanessa Williams, the talent portion of the competition and the addition of celebrity judges and music curator Nick Jonas (who I said hello to earlier on the red carpet). And the energy inside the building only amplified the fun.


Following Miss Georgia’s crowning, we headed in to the press area for the post-show press conference. Betty Cantrell was there, along with Williams and the other judges.


And as the song went, after the show it was the after-party. There I ran in to Williams on the dance floor and told her that I also attended Syracuse University. We exchanged a solid high-five.

Another Black Jack donation and trip to Dunkin’ Donuts inside Resorts Casino later and it was back on a bus following my second all-nighter in three evenings. It’s not like a full day, including TV and the radio show, awaited me in New York.

Oh.

Trust me, I’m NOT complaining.