NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than 300 couples who have been married for half a century or more are gathering in Brooklyn to celebrate their love in a special Valentine’s Day ceremony.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has thrown the party every year since taking office in 2002.

EXTRA: Brooklyn’s Best Valentine’s Day Gifts | Best Valentine’s Day Treats & Desserts

Couples will dance, eat cake, drink champagne and then kiss as Markowitz officially declares them married forever more. The special celebration will be held at a country club.

“I say, ‘I hereby declare you married forever,'” Markowitz said. “Everyone kisses if they’re able to and that’s it.”

The borough’s longest lasting love pair may be Fortuno and Maddalena Corso, who tied the knot in Italy as teenagers 72 years ago.

“I liked her and so I got married,” said Fortuno, 89, a retired construction worker who still speaks Italian with his wife, who doesn’t speak any English. “You’ve got to love each other and you’ve got to work at it together.”

Murray and Esther Redlitz of Mill Basin will also attend the celebration. The two Holocaust survivors met in Poland while trying to find missing family members after the Russian Army freed their concentration camps at the end of World War II.

“We didn’t have nobody,” says Esther, 85, recalling how Murray was her one constant as they made their way through Poland and
Czechoslovakia before coming to the United States.

“He has a wonderful personality, he’s always on the bright side,” she said, holding her husband’s hand. “I’m the pessimist, he’s the optimist.”

Markowitz and his wife, married a mere 13 years, will also renew their vows.

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