Monthly Archives: May 2017

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Patriots avenge 11-10 loss to Smithtown East in 2015 Class A finals


Being down 5-1 in the Suffolk County Class A finals didn’t scare the Patriots — it fueled them.

According to senior Eddie Munoz, Ward Melville coaches say lacrosse is a game of runs, and all the team needed was a run to get back in it.

So Ward Melville’s Zach Hobbes scored twice in a four-run spurt across the end of the first half and beginning of the second, and Munoz capped it off with an unassisted goal to tie the game, en route to a 9-8 win for Ward Melville over Smithtown East May 31.

“Down 5-1 is tough to come back from, but we made our run at the right time,” Munoz said. “And we didn’t stop.”

After senior Mike Marino scored off an assist from senior Mike Latini for Smithtown East, Munoz was quick to help tie it up again, when he scored his hat trick goal off a pass from Hobbes. Senior Dominic Pryor scored next off a feed from classmate Andrew Lockhart, but Smithtown East senior Connor DeSimone tied it up for
the Bulls.

DeSimone was held off the scoreboard besides one assist, thanks to Ward Melville senior Andrew McKenna, who was tasked with guarding one of Long Island’s leading goal scorers.

“I know he’s a very good player, but I’ve [gone up against] a lot of good players,” McKenna said. “He’s one of Long Island’s best, but knowing I have a great defense around me and a great goalkeeper behind me in Perry Cassidy made me all the more confident.”

Watching his defenseman lean in to help with a dodge on the next play, Munoz said he decided to step into it, hoping Pryor would find him with a pass. With little time to think, Munoz decided to send the ball to senior Noah Kepes, who finished his shot to put Ward Melville back on top, 8-7.

“When Dom passed the ball, I knew I was a little far out, so I took one glance at the crease in my windup, I saw Noah there and I couldn’t not pass it to him,” Munoz said. “It was a great catch, a great handle and a great finish.”

Senior Jack Purdy tacked on an empty netter for what the Patriots thought would be an insurance goal, but Smithtown East’s Dominic Pizzulli found the netting with 22.1 seconds left, and Ward Melville’s defense was able to hold the Bulls off after senior Brian Herber’s faceoff win.

“We were resilient,” McKenna said. “Down 5-1 we still went out there and competed, gave 100 percent on every play and played good, hard, smart lacrosse.”

He said it’s been a dream ever since he was a kid to make it to this point in his senior year with his longtime Patriots surrounding him, and they agreed.

“We needed to get back here,” Munoz said. “I couldn’t let us lose today. This is a dream come true.”

Ward Melville will play Massapequa in the Long Island Championship June 3 at 10 a.m. at Stony Brook University.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn joined residents at the Setauket Neighborhood House for a conversation about pedestrian and cyclist safety. Photo by Rita J. Egan

One of the goals of the Three Village Community Trust is to identify the needs of local residents. Since March, with that objective in mind, the trust has been inviting residents to their Join the Conversation events at the Setauket Neighborhood House the fourth Thursday of every month.

At a May 25 meeting, led by Cynthia Barnes, president of the trust, the third of these conversations was held, this one about sharing the road safely. It was co-sponsored by Sidewalks for Safety, a grassroots organization dedicated to making the Three Village roads safer. Local residents were encouraged to discuss concerns about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists both young and old in the area.

While Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Dr. Nancy McLinksey and David Calone, former chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, were on hand for brief presentations about proposed enhancements for walkers and bikers as well as the health benefits of walking, the main event was the conversation of concerned residents.

A few attendees said they have witnessed many young people, especially Stony Brook University students who live off campus, not walking against traffic along Quaker Path and Christian Avenue. Many said they have seen children distracted while walking with headphones on, or texting. Another concern was expressed about cyclists who do not travel in the same direction as traffic, or have no rear lights on their bicycles.

Another attendee said the newly-paved Quaker Path, with 11-foot-wide lanes, has seemed to become an invitation for drivers to speed. He said the lines along the side of the road are very close to the edges, which pushes pedestrians and bicyclists into the grass at certain spots. He suggested that narrower lines be painted to create a protective space.

Robert Reuter, president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, suggested in addition to restriping wide roads such as Quaker Path, that crosswalk graphics be painted as a better alternative to traditional signs on poles that can sometimes add to the dangers of the road by causing an obstruction.

“There is something, to me, very physical and powerful about graphics on the road, and in the case of Quaker Path, there are numerous key intersections where a crosswalk or a cross-street could be fine,” Reuter said. “Now this probably runs counter to all kinds of engineering sensibility about keeping traffic moving, but with paint, one can signal that there is something going on here that you should be aware of.”

Sidewalks were another issue of concern that had residents in support and against the idea in particular places. Jennifer Martin, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright’s (D-Port Jefferson Station) chief of staff, said having feedback from the community could help the town decide where to add them.

“There seems to be a general consensus about the need for sidewalks along 25A, but as of yet,  there’s not a community consensus about sidewalks in other parts of the community, especially when you get deeper into the residential areas,” she said.

One woman in attendance asked if there was a way for legislators to persuade residents to be more open to sidewalks, especially since the town owns six feet in front of each piece of property and can do whatever they want with it.

Another resident said while she respected the opinions of those who wanted sidewalks, she felt they needed to look at the historic reasons for not having them. 

Barnes diffused the debate though, saying there is more than one solution to the problem.

“Sidewalks are one of several solutions; it’s not the only solution,” Barnes said. “Some of it is the people who are driving in cars not paying attention. When you get behind the wheel you are a driving a huge weighty tank that can kill people if you’re not careful and paying attention.”

The Three Village Community Trust’s next Join the Conversation meeting is June 22 at 7 p.m. The talk will focus on Plum Island and will include a virtual tour by Louise Harrison, a conservation biologist and the New York natural areas coordinator for Save the Sound.

From left, Bill Ferris, Tim Sini and Ray Perini are currently the three known candidates for Suffolk County district attorney. Photo on left from Ferris; file photo center; photo on right from Perini

Update: Bill Ferris dropped out of the race in July, there will be no primary to select a Republican candidate Sept. 12.

On the heels of Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s (D) decision to forgo a run at a fifth term this November, two Republicans and a Democrat, each longtime law enforcers, so far are publicly vying for the county’s top prosecutor job.

Spota, who assumed office in 2001, made his official announcement May 12, about a year after County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and several legislators called on him to resign from his position after playing a role in the promotion of former Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke, who pleaded guilty in February 2016 to charges of a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

“I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

— Ray Perini

Accused of taking part in a police cover-up, which spurred on a federal investigation, Spota has been under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle for the last year. Spota shed light on his decision in an emailed statement through spokesman Robert Clifford.

“Be assured, this is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made and my final decision was only made recently,” he said. “The deciding factor though, is that life is too short (especially at my age) and it’s time to spend quality time with my wife, children and grandchildren (with 2 more on the way!).”

With Spota out of the race, the torch will be passed on to a newcomer, of which there are three known contenders eyeing the seat — Ray Perini (R), former chief and founder of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Narcotics Bureau; Bill Ferris (R), a Vietnam veteran and former assistant district attorney; and Tim Sini (D), current Suffolk County police commissioner —  according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Each of them, as well as any others who decide to throw their hat in the ring, are expected to file petitions between July 10 and July 13.

Perini, 69, a Huntington resident, who entered the race in January, said he’s been training his entire career to be district attorney and wants to “take politics out of the DA’s office.”

“At this point in my career, I don’t want anything else,” Perini said. “I don’t want to be county executive, I don’t want to be governor, I don’t want to be judge … I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

A highly experienced criminal lawyer with an active practice in Islandia, Perini has 43 years of experience in the criminal justice system, 17 of which were spent as a prosecutor bouncing from Brooklyn to Suffolk County, where he started the Narcotics Bureau in 1976.

In 1989, he went on to work with federal and state police agencies, including Suffolk County Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and drug task forces. He served as co-chair of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association’s criminal law committee and is a past president of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association.

“There is nothing I haven’t done in the criminal justice system,” Perini said. His major focuses if elected, he said, are gang violence and drug overdoses. “As a united front, working with the federal government, DEA, FBI and cops on the street, collectively, we can win this war [against drugs]. We need experience, this is what I’ve done, this is what I can do. All I care about is getting the job done.”

Perini ran unsuccessfully against Spota four years ago after the incumbent was cross-endorsed on all four party lines, for which Perini attacked Spota for not giving voters a choice at the polls.

“I wouldn’t accept a cross-endorsement,” the father of two said. “I want the voters to pick.”

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement.”

— Bill Ferris

Ferris, 70, a former Navy captain in the Vietnam war and Fordham Law School graduate from Southold, announced recently his intention to run against Perini, the choice of the Republican Party for the September primary.

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement,” Ferris, who served as prosecutor for 23 years under former Suffolk District Attorney Patrick Henry starting in 1978, said. “My background is clear and clean. I was in that office for 23 years and handled homicide, vehicular homicide, served on the Katie Beers [kidnapping] matter, tried a political corruption case against county sheriff Patrick Mahoney, served as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association recently, have taught young lawyers ethics and served on the Grievance Committee for Nassau and Suffolk for eight years.”

He said anyone who runs for the DA position has to have a clean record of integrity, accountability and professionalism, all of which the father of two said he has.

Among his biggest priority if elected, he said, is getting a handle on the gang situation that has left Suffolk residents feeling unsafe.

“I’ll protect the citizens, fight the gangs and give us back our good name,” Ferris said in a statement. “While I was in the DA office, we did have a gang unit, which was discounted under Mr. Spota … The DA’s office is in a critical position to bring in federal agency, state, and local police to put together a master plan to both investigate and prosecute gang members. Parents are afraid on a daily basis to send their kids to school and that should not happen in Suffolk County.”

Sini, 36, the youngest commissioner in the history of Suffolk County, announced his official run for the job on the same day Spota made his announcement, despite a claim in front of the county legislature in February 2016 before he was confirmed that he had no intentions of running for district attorney.

“[Tim Sini] stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

— David Kelley

“I think that when he said that he wouldn’t run, he meant what he said,” said David Kelley, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and chairman of Sini’s campaign. “Since then, a couple things have happened. Having the insight he does on the needs of the DA’s office and how the shape it’s in is so bad and such a disservice to the county, he could see that firsthand from his vantage point as commissioner from taking on difficult cases like MS-13, recognizing this office needs somebody who can be really good … he stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

Sini, who did not return multiple requests for comment through Kelley, has taken on the county’s gang violence and drug problem head-on in his short time in his position. He recently spoke before the U.S. Senate to outline the departments initiatives in tackling the county’s gang problem.

“If you take his commitments to public service and his professionalism, and put it together, he, by far, surpasses any of the other candidates and I think he’s exactly what the county needs,” Kelley said. “He’s a professional prosecutor, he’s spent a good part of his career in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, he’s clerked for a federal judge, he’s a highly skilled and highly trained lawyer and prosecutor, and he also knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in Suffolk County.”

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Mount Sinai edged out Bayport-Blue Point, 9-6, for the program's third consecutive Suffolk County Class C title. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With her team’s early 3-0 lead turning into a 5-3 deficit, Meaghan Tyrrell knew somebody had to take charge.

“I got the ball in our offensive end, and I knew somebody had to do it,” Tyrrell said. “And I just stepped up.”

She had a five-goal performance and two assists to lead Mount Sinai’s girls’ lacrosse team to its third consecutive Class C county crown, with 9-6 win over Bayport-Blue Point May 30. The junior scored unassisted to pull her team within one, 5-4, and assisted on senior Leah Nonnenmann’s game-tying goal less than 30 seconds later. She knew her team was on its way to the Long Island championship as she raised her hands toward the sky following two unassisted goals soon after her assist.

Meaghan Tyrrell moves the ball into Bayport-Blue Point’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We wanted this so bad,” Tyrrell said. “We know Bayport, we’ve seen them before, but each time it’s different. When they started coming back we realized something had to change.”

The key was not only Tyrrell taking charge, but locking down on defense, and the Mustangs had one of the county’s top defenders in senior Emily Vengilio to do just that.

“We never give up,” Vengilio said. “[Bayport-Blue Point has] a great offense, so we knew our defense had to step up. Three years ago when we lost to them [11-9 in the county final] in the last 10 minutes, we knew what it felt like, so we fought hard to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

Phantom Kelsi LoNigro was the target, and Vengilio and twin sisters Meaghan and Kirsten Scutaro made every step the senior tried to take difficult.

“Our kids are tough — they’re all veteran players,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “We tried to take [Kelsi LoNigro] out of the mix because she’s a catalyst for their offense.

We took their best punches. At the end of the day you have to have kids that fight, and they fought.”

Mount Sinai jumped ahead 3-0 with two goals from senior Veronica Venezia. Tyrrell assisted on the first and scored the second goal of the game. But Bayport-Blue Point picked up steam to tie the game by halftime. Nonnenmann said her teammates were in their own heads, including herself — even while racing toward the circle to grab a pass from Tyrrell for her goal that made it 5-5.

Meaghan Tyrrell scores. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I was thinking ‘I should get this,’” she said. “I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders. But when it was me and the goalie I knew I had it.”

Mount Sinai’s objective just a couple of years ago was to “prove people wrong.” Now, the Mustangs are synonymous with championship-level lacrosse.

“We’d always been overlooked, but that’s changed now,” Vengilio said. “We wanted to make the full circle. Each win feels great, but this one especially. Now we’re definitely on top.”

It was hammer time for Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega, as the sideline sang her goal-scoring song five times in the girls’ lacrosse team’s 13-3 win over Northport May 30.

“You can’t touch this,” they screamed louder and louder with each goal.

Ortega stepped out on the field Tuesday ready to finish what her older sister Nikki had started more than five years ago — win the program’s first Class A Suffolk County championship. Nikki Ortega had led the Mad Dogs further and further into the postseason over her six-year varsity career until she graduated two years ago, and her younger sister has been steering the wheel ever since.

“I wanted to do this for her,” Jamie Ortega said. “And I wanted to play for all those seniors that didn’t have the opportunity to. We finished it for them. We didn’t want that feeling again.”

That feeling she referred to was the devastation after each loss at the hands of West Islip over the last three seasons — twice in the semis and once in the finals.

This time, although the foe wasn’t as familiar, Middle Country knew it couldn’t take its opponent lightly. No. 5 Northport was fresh off an 8-7 upset over nationally ranked No. 1 Ward Melville.

“We were nervous,” said senior Ava Barry, who scored a goal and had five assists. “It’s hard to beat a team twice. Any team can win on any given day.”

Middle Country is also ranked nationally, featuring the top lacrosse recruit in the nation in Ortega. The senior pulled out a similar showing to when the Mad Dogs completed a 14-5 win over the Tigers May 8. Ortega finished that game with four goals and two assists.

She scored three goals and had one assist at the end of the first half in the final. She completed her hat trick when, after passing to Barry who couldn’t find a clear lane near the circle, sent a pass back to Ortega and who fired her shot home for a five-goal lead, 6-1.

“It’s my last year and I knew that this was the time to step up and play ‘all in,’” the University of North Carolina-bound midfielder said. “I’m so proud of this team.”

The team was “all in” from one end of the field to the other. The defense held Northport to 12 shots, and senior goalie Emily Walsh made nine saves. Jennifer Barry, Ava’s younger sister, led Middle Country to a 13-5 draw advantage, with Ortega also pulling away with some draw wins. The offense had nine assists on its 13 goals.

“Our defense was great, we came up so big on so many stops in goal and had so many extra possessions that we took advantage of,” Ortega said. “We knew if we got the extra possession and made them turn over the ball that we could calm down and make a good play out of it.”

Barry had passed to Ortega for her second goal and dished the ball to senior Rachel Masullo for a 7-1 lead. Ortega and Barry made another pass-back move on the opening goal of the second half, after Ortega forced a turnover behind Northport’s goal.

“My teammates were making great cuts, got open really well and helped me be able to make the passes to them,” Barry said.  “When the sidelines get involved in the game it’s fun, it’s exciting. You always want your sideline to be cheering your team on.”

After a brief second-half hiccup, with Northport’s Emerson Cabrera putting her team’s first goal on the scoreboard since the 11-minute mark of the first half, Middle Country got right back to work. Head coach Lindsay Dolson never slowed down her team, saying the girls like to use their speed, and the team racked up three more goals before Northport scored its final goal of the game. She also said the win gave the team some needed confidence. But Ortega said she told her team they were capable all along.

“I told my teammates we shouldn’t be nervous,” Ortega said. “This was our game, our time. I told them we’re not losing today, everyone believed it and we proved it.”

Twin sisters Rachel and Amanda Masullo added three goals apiece and Jennifer Barry assisted on two goals.

Middle Country will face the winner of the June 1 Massapequa-Port Washington game for the Long Island championship at Adelphi University June 4 at 7:30 p.m.

“Our mentality has been just putting in every ounce of effort and not stopping until we seal the deal,” Rachel Masullo said. “So many of our seasons got cut short. Now, we’re ready to barrel through anybody that gets in front of us.”

EN PLEIN AIR: Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station captured this image of an artist painting plein air, a French expression meaning ‘In the open air,’ at Setauket Harbor in May using a Nikon D7100 with a Nikkor 18-200 zoom lens.

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From left, Dr. Chuck Timpone, Chuck Bowman and Pam Green. Photo from Kent Animal Shelter

Kent Animal Shelter’s Evening of Comedy on May 12 at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, featuring comedians Joe DeVito and Tommy Gooch, raised $6,500. Funds raised will be allocated to the 2017 Rescue Campaign that provides medical care, spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations and special surgery to rescued animals. The show delighted attendees, and the shelter’s Executive Director Pamela Green and board Vice President Chuck Bowman took the opportunity to recognize the shelter’s board president, Dr. Chuck Timpone of Mattituck-Laurel Veterinary, for his 20 plus years of life-saving care for shelter pets.

Quiche Lorraine

By Barbara Beltrami

Of all my memories from my travels, one of the clearest and most poignant is a picnic lunch on a riverbank in the Dordogne area of France. After a long walk through meadows and the cobblestoned streets of tiny villages, across bridges and down rutted roads, what our guide had told us would be a modest lunch prepared by his fiancée turned out to be an incredibly sumptuous feast of everything one fantasizes about in such a setting.

I still remember the platters of freshly cut melon with delicate slices of ham, local farm fresh cheeses and butter, pates with cornichons, thick slices of juicy homegrown tomatoes and fresh picked delicate greens with just a touch of vinaigrette, long crusty baguettes still warm from the oven, ruby red cherries and the piece de resistance — not one but three different quiches made, of course, with vegetables from their garden, eggs from their chickens and cream from their cow.

I’ve made many a fancy lunch and many a quiche in my day, but none will ever come close to those. I have neither the quality of ingredients nor that setting with its perfect ambiance. But I have often tried to imitate if not duplicate those quiches. The recipes that follow for Quiche Lorraine, Zucchini Quiche and Spinach and Mushroom Quiche are the closest I’ve gotten. Bon appétit!

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine


YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


Pastry for one 9-inch pie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 strips crispy cooked bacon, lightly crumbled

1 cup shredded Gruyere or Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups half-and-half

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate with pastry and bake 5 minutes. In a small skillet, sauté onion in butter until softened and opaque. Sprinkle bacon, onion and cheeses over bottom of baked pastry. With a wire whisk thoroughly combine eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Pour mixture onto pie crust. Bake the quiche 15 minutes at 450 F, then reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve hot or warm with onion soup, arugula salad and a French baguette.

Zucchini Quiche

Zucchini Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.


One 9-inch pie crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3–¾ lb zucchini, washed, halved lengthwise then very thinly sliced crosswise

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1½ cups half-and-half

3 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 ounces Emmenthaler (Swiss), Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of 9-inch quiche pan or pie dish with pie crust and bake 5 minutes. In large skillet melt butter; add oil. Add zucchini and onion and sauté until tender and just starting to turn golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. In medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the half-and-half, eggs and salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese, zucchini and onions evenly over bottom of crust. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with garlic bread and sliced tomatoes with olive oil, basil and vinegar.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


One 9-inch pie crust

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup cleaned fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 cup cooked, drained and chopped fresh or frozen spinach

2/3 cup grated Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese

1/3 cup crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese

1 3/4 cups half-and-half

3 eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate with crust and bake 5 minutes. In small skillet, melt butter, add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat; add prepared spinach and toss with mushrooms and remaining melted butter to coat. Sprinkle evenly in pie dish, then sprinkle the two cheeses on top. In medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs and salt and pepper. Pour into pie plate. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with a salad of fennel, endive, radicchio, fresh or dried fruits, chopped walnuts and a French baguette.

'Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade'. Image from STAC
STAC’s latest exhibit invokes a Brooklyn state of mind

By Susan Risoli

Ladies and gentlemen and kids who like oddities — step right up for Greetings from Coney Island, an art exhibit running through June 25 at the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s (STAC) Mills Pond Gallery in St. James. Artists Kelynn Z. Alder, Carol Fabricatore, Candy Heiland and Marie Roberts show us all sides of Coney Island — easy days in the sun, mysterious nights under carnival lights, complex sideshow freaks, simple pleasures of food and fresh air. Sometimes these themes merge in a unique boardwalk alchemy, and the artists capture that too.

Kelynn Z. Alder

‘Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade’. Image from STAC

Kelynn Z. Alder’s “Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade” (oil painting on canvas) presents a couple in mermaid regalia, surrounded by a crowd of jubilant friends. The colors bring to mind the gravel in the bottom of a fish tank — lime-green, pinks, coral, oranges. The artist echoes them throughout the active scene — over here in a multicolored ice cream bar, over there in a celebrant’s lipstick. Gazing at this large painting is like a wild dream you know you should wake up from, but it’s too fascinating to leave just yet. And despite the artifice of the subjects’ costumes, their joy is genuine. In this parade of illusion, Alder paints happiness as real as the relief of misfits who finally found a welcoming tribe.

Carol Fabricatore

Carol Fabricatore renders two views of the same boardwalk sideshow. Her thorough treatment creates more questions than answers about what’s really going on. Her charcoal and acrylic “Snake Charmer” seems to be a fairly straightforward look at a carnival barker, swaying like a cobra while he drums up an audience for the charmer standing nearby with a snake around her waist. That boy in the corner, though … we wonder who he is, and where his parents are.

‘Coney Island Dog’ by Kelynn Z. Alder. Image from STAC

We meet up with this crew again, elsewhere in the exhibit, in Fabricatore’s “Boardwalk Barkers” (also charcoal and acrylic). This time we see the woman’s apparent ecstasy, as she nuzzles the snake. Her foot is raised coquettishly. Her behavior might all be part of her snake charmer performance, but how can we be sure? The crowd of bystanders gathered in front of her are just as uncertain as we are.

Here Fabricatore gives us an engrossing character study of their faces and body language. One lady has her hand on her chin, looking like the jury is still out on what in the heck is happening here. Boys in the crowd look unsettled — and transfixed. Even the guy pushing a baby in a stroller has stopped to take a look (and we wonder what sort of dreams that baby will have tonight). The drawing is mostly black and white, and the sparseness of its lines allows us to really focus on and study the individual reactions of each person in the crowd.

Candy Heiland

Candy Heiland is inspired by the color, light and dynamics of Coney Island at night. The children have all gone home now (or probably should have). Her oil pastels on paper have black backgrounds and are distinctive in their use of purple and mauve and crimson, rather than the circus colors we might associate with the carnival atmosphere. Her images are a world of oversized clown heads, or hallucinogenic eyes like the ones in “Spookarama Doors.” The Nathan’s Famous restaurant sign is bathed in moonlight and spotlight under Heiland’s treatment.

There is plenty of movement in Heiland’s work. We know the roulette wheels she represents are in reality hanging on a wall in the gallery, but still we feel the wheels spinning. The same is true of her carousel horses. This is not a happy carousel full of laughing families. These carousel horses are alive with disturbing and disturbed expressions on their painted faces, and we feel their urgent straining.

Marie Roberts

‘Coney Island Circus’ by Marie Roberts. Image from STAC

Brooklyn native Marie Roberts has a personal history with Coney Island: Her uncle Lester worked there, for the Dreamland Circus Sideshow, in the 1920s. Sideshow freaks dropped by the family home. Her work in the exhibit invites us to join her in hanging out with the fire eaters, the sword-swallowers, a contortionist or two. Her use of strokes of vivid color is abstract in some of her images, the afternoon light giving a different twist to yellow, red and blue.

She is more direct and realist in other paintings — so real that we can almost taste the zeppole and smell the funnel cake, and hear the vendor say, “What’ll you have?” Roberts juxtaposes children in adult settings, some working in carnival booths, some eating ice cream and taking it all in, some not human at all but frolicking baby mermaids.

‘Sword Swallower’ by Kelynn Z. Adler. Image from STAC

Her black outlines are bold and sure, but the mystery that swirls in like fog from the Atlantic Ocean is very much present in her work. There’s a lot going on here that requires a second and third look. As do the other artists in the show, Roberts reminds us that Coney Island is always a treat for the senses even as it pulls back the curtain just enough to leave us wanting more.

The Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James will present Greetings from Coney Island through June 25. There will be an opening reception at the Gallery June 10, 4 to 6 p.m., with an opportunity to meet the artists and see Coney Island performance artist Wendy Blades, who will share her sword-swallowing talents. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call 631-862-6575 or visit

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

On a Friday in May, a very distraught man in his mid-40s barricaded himself in a Catholic Church in Center Moriches. He threatened police to use incendiary devices. After the police retreated, he set the church on fire and killed himself.

The first responders and Suffolk County police were extraordinary; hundreds of people reached out to the young pastor to offer help in the midst of this horrific tragedy.

Located directly next to the church was a regional Catholic school, grades K through eight. A few hundred children were locked in for most of the afternoon. They were petrified. By late afternoon, they were released to their parents.

On the Monday after this horrific tragedy, the pastor designated the 8 o’clock morning Mass as a Mass for healing and peace for the parish and school community. The entire student body assembled in the gym along with countless parishioners and community members. This gymnasium turned worship space was alive with faith and renewed hope.

The pastor began the Mass with inspiring words of welcome. After the Gospel reading, he gave an extraordinary homily that was beyond words. The students were mesmerized by his words of compassion, unconditional love, profound gratitude and renewed hope.

He asked the students that morning how many had been afraid on Friday. More than half of the student body raised their hands. The young priest did too. He said he had been really scared but had drawn on his faith and he knew he would be okay. He went on to say to this very attentive audience that it was okay to be scared but that they would be okay too; that we just need to draw on our faith! All who participated that morning left with a renewed sense of hope and a real belief that everything would be okay!

There was a young social work intern at this peace and healing service. He was a social work intern from one of New York City’s graduate schools of social work. I have known him since he was a teenager; he is an extraordinary young man but like many of his generation not without some real-life challenges.

His graduate school graduation was on the Sunday before that Monday morning Mass. I asked him how was graduation. He told me he had been really excited to get hooded since he had missed his undergraduate graduation. However, because of the tragedy in his field placement, he made the difficult decision to pass on commencement. He said, “my students need me; I think it’s more important for me to be present among them. I want them to know that they will be okay!” I was profoundly touched by the decision he made.

That same graduation weekend two young men who have battled addiction since high school are powerful examples that transformation does take place and recovery can and does lead to new life.

One young man graduated cum laude from a local liberal arts college and will begin his professional career as a quality control scientist for a pharmaceutical company. The other young man, a philosophy major as an undergraduate, graduated at the top of his class with a law degree. Both men continue to give back and express gratitude every day for the lives they have reclaimed.

The drug epidemic is a national health crisis. Those in government pay lip service to this infectious affliction; despite their inaction, people do recover, reclaim their lives and become life-giving members of our society.

These are just a few stories of hope. I am fortunate to see these kinds of miracles every day across a landscape of unnecessary human carnage!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.