Hundreds of Palma Salerno’s closest friends turned out Oct. 3 for the inaugural Palmapalooza, a celebration of her life intended to raise money for worthy causes. This year’s money went to the the Dewey Artist Collaboration.
Many of the folks who attended the celebration at the Big Chill, south of the Indian River Inlet in Delaware Seashore State Park, were friends of Salerno through the Cape Region’s hospitality industry. She died suddenly July 29 at age 39.
Stephanie Cameron, wife of Chef Hari Cameron, helped organize the event. She credited the musicians, vendors, restaurants and other businesses with donating everything. Palmapalooza provides a window into the life of a person in the hospitality industry, said Cameron. “It’s a tight-knit group of people,” she said.
Cameron said she and Salerno had been friends since she was a teenager working at The Edge and Salerno was working at Salon Fur. Cameron said Salerno was a hospitality person through and through. “Things happened so suddenly this summer,” said Cameron. “We knew we had to do something, but we also knew Palma would not have wanted to have a celebration in the middle of the season.”
Standing nearby, Jenna Rogers, another friend, described Salerno as bigger than life. “She had such a kind heart.”
Tommaso and Donna Salerno, Palma’s parents, made the trip from Frederica. With a big smile on his face, Tommaso said he didn’t realize Palma had so many friends until nearly 700 people showed up for her funeral. “People just kept coming,” Tommaso said.
Tommaso said he and Donna adopted Palma when she was 4 months old. “God gave her to us so we could share her with the world,” he said. The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage shortly after her death. “We just wish we could have been with her a little longer,” said Donna.