'Abraham Lincoln' Helps Astorino Thank His Followers

County Executive Rob Astorino was joined by a Lincoln impersonator at a screening of "Lincoln."

Michael Griest's business card says that he works on tax prepartion, but his attire suggests another name: Abraham Lincoln.

The Lincoln impersonator, who bears a striking resemblance to the 16th president, was in Mount Kisco Tuesday evening for an event held by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to thank his social media supporters.

Astorino, whose Facebook page has more than 5,000 Likes, had a contest where the first 87 followers (or, it was noted, four score and seven people) who shared a post about it would get free tickets to a screening of Lincoln's new, eponymous film at Clearview's Mt. Kisco Cinema. 

The film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day Lewis as the president, chronicles the last months of Lincoln's life. It has been nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

For Griest, a Peekskill resident, playing Lincoln is a repeat gig. He takes on the role every February in Peekskill for the anniversary of the Lincoln's 1861 train stop in the community while he was still president-elect. The movie event in Mount Kisco also coincides with his 204th birthday; a rendition of "Happy Birthday" was sang by attendees.

Among the Facebook followers to were invited to the screening were Gary Sella and his wife, Paula Ciccimarra, of Ridgewood, NJ. Ciccimarra, who grew up in Thornwood, attended Westlake High School at the same time as Astorino, who is from and still lives in Mount Pleasant.

Ciccimarra recalls that Astorino, while at Westlake, was in the student council. When asked about his role in politics, she said that "it wasn't really a big shock."

Astorino, who said he has a bust of Lincoln in his office, described the president as one of his heroes, with founding father Benjamin Franklin being his other hero. The county executive said that Lincoln did not stray from his convictions.

Griest praised Lincoln's personal integrity, saying that he was a "man of principle." 

For Astorino, who is running for re-election this year, the night was a chance to thank folks who have backed him before. Speaking to his supporters inside a dark theater before the screening, the county executive noted the role social media has had in the past few years. Examples he cited included helping people in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and in with his first victory in 2009, when he defeated long-time incumbent Andrew Spano. 


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