File photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Northport is ready to spread some holiday cheer this weekend.

The festivities kick off Friday, Nov, 25 with the annual tree lighting hosted by the Northport Chamber of Commerce. From 4 to 7 p.m. reindeer will be on display in the village. At 7 p.m. the tree will be lit inside Northport Village Park, and then Santa Claus comes to town with the Northport Fire Department in a parade down Main Street. Hot chocolate and cookies will be passed out for visitors as well.

Then starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, activities for Small Business Saturday will be hosted by the Northport Chamber of Commerce. Shoppers are invited to register at the Main Street Cafe on Main Street and receive a raffle ticket, along with a list of merchants in the village and discounts each participating store will be offering. When shoppers make a purchase from one of those stores, they will receive another raffle ticket. The chamber will raffle off 10 gift certificates to area stores and a few gift certificates to Main Street Cafe.

Finally at 6 p.m., Carl’s Candies, a new candy shop on Main Street, will keep the Northport leg-lighting tradition alive by hosting the event outside their shop. The annual lighting of the leg is a nod to the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story” and one of the most well-known movie props in cinematic history. The holiday tradition began in 2005 when owners of Northport Hardware Store lit the lamp and put it on display in their storefront window. Since then, the glowing leg has attracted hundreds of visitors to Northport Village each year.

Joan Harris’ woodland-inspired wreath won Best in Show last year. Photo from SHS

It’s back! The Smithtown Historical Society, located at 239 Middle Country Road, Smithtown is holding a Heritage Country Christmas Community Wreath Contest through Nov. 28 at 5 p.m. Wreath must be from 12 to 24 inches in diameter; materials can be artist’s choice. Drop off is at the Roseneath Cottage. Entry fee is the donation of your wreath to the Historical Society. Cash prizes for Best in Show and Honorable Mentions will be awarded on Dec. 3; public voting is between 3 to 6 p.m. with the announcement of the winners at 6:45 p.m. Open to all. For more information, call 631-265-6768.

'Faces in the Crowd'

In recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregivers Month in November, The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will serve as a showcase for the 4th annual Through Our Eyes exhibition in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room through Dec. 13.

‘Beckoning Blooms,’ beads on canvas, by Marie G., Jean C. and Shirley D., residents of North Hills Bristal Assisted Living, is one of 33 works on view. Image from LIM
‘Beckoning Blooms,’ beads on canvas, by Marie G., Jean C. and Shirley D., residents of North Hills Bristal Assisted Living, is one of 33 works on view. Image from LIM

Discover the beauty in 33 unique works created by residents from 13 communities at the Bristal Assisted Living. Photographic portraits and artist statements presented beside each artwork provide a richer context and a deeper connection with both the piece and artist. The exhibition is an extension of the museum’s In the Moment: Art Engagement for People with Memory Loss program.

Piloted in 2011, In the Moment is a gallery program of art engagement for people with memory loss and their care partners. To date, the program has served more than 750 participants. Developed with the nationally recognized Meet Me at MoMA program in New York City and the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Stony Brook University Medical Center, the program is led by trained museum educators.

“Observing art created by individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia is truly a gift. The person’s diagnosis is no longer the focus, rather it is the art that becomes the expression of their unique identity,” said Darlene Jyringi, program director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center of Long Island.

Programs take place in the Carriage and Art Museums and offer opportunities for mental stimulation and social engagement. Participants are able to connect with the artwork on display, gain a sense of importance, and share and relay memories, unique experiences for many of the participants, who “rarely speak otherwise” according to one care partner. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit

File photo by Victoria Espinoza.

By Victoria Espinoza

The holiday season gets its unofficial start for Huntington residents this Saturday. The town has organized many events to kick-off the good times during its seventh annual Holiday Parade and Street Festival Nov. 26.

In addition to the event’s yearly staples, the town has also introduced a scavenger hunt this year to encourage children and families to explore Huntington Village as it is also Small Business Saturday.

The hunt is open to children ages 5 to 12 and will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Participants can register at KidzHitz, on Main Street, where they will receive a game board and clues that, when solved, will take them to 12 locations to get puzzle pieces to put on their game boards. When their board is complete, participants should return to KidzHitz, where they will receive coupons for a free music lesson and a free kid’s cup or cone at Ben & Jerry’s on Main Street. During the day Huntington Public Library and Panera Bread will also be hosting craft activities for kids, and carolers will be singing in the village throughout the day.

Huntington officials also created an interactive map shoppers can access online or on their smartphones and tablets that helps them access information and offers about the various merchants participating in Small Business Saturday. The interactive map contains a printable sheet of coupons, parking details and the parade route.

According to the town, last year 25 merchants signed up to be a location on the map and offered deals for the holiday season, and the site received a total of 2,789 hits, including 1,239 on the day of the parade and festival.

During the day shoppers are also encouraged to cast their votes for the best gingerbread houses in a competition that features two categories: commercial bakeries and home bakers. The houses are on display at the Paramount Theater and what was formerly Freedman Jewelers on New York Avenue.

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said the town tries to build on this event every year.

“Each year, new events and features get added to make the day even more special, and this year is no exception, with the expanded gingerbread house competition and additional activities for children,” he said in a statement. “That’s why people from all across Long Island come early and stay late for an entire day of family fun.”

The holiday parade begins at 6 p.m. at the Big H Shopping Center on New York Avenue, and this year for the first time there will be a grand marshal leading the way.

Sal Valentinetti, a Bethpage pizza deliveryman, competed on this season of the reality TV show “America’s Got Talent,” and sang his way to the finals. He’ll lead the Huntington parade and perform a few songs.

“I’m honored and thrilled to be part of this Huntington tradition and I’m looking forward to it,” the 21-year-old said. Valentinetti will perform three shows at The Paramount Dec. 15, 16 and 22.

The parade includes competitions for the best floats in several categories. Judges will choose based on how well participants follow the parade theme of Cartoon Holiday. Local fire departments, businesses and organizations participate in the parade.

After the parade ends, The North Shore Pops, a concert band, will perform in front of the holiday tree in the village along with Valentinetti. After the tree lighting ceremony, the festival will continue on Wall Street, and kids will be able to meet Santa Claus, get their faces painted, play in the bounce houses and enjoy a free cup of hot chocolate.

Free parking will be available at the Huntington train station, with a convenient free shuttle from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

13507169_534035353468881_6222762848800535560_nAttention coffee lovers! Village Coffee Market, 131 Main St., Stony Brook (located right next to the post office) invites the community to an Open House on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Come find out all about the newest store at the Stony Brook Village Center. Start your holiday shopping while enjoying coffee samples and baked goods. For additional questions, call 631-675-9525.

Shinjae Yoo with his son Erum

By Daniel Dunaief

He works with clouds, solar radiation and nanoparticles, just to name a few. The subjects Shinjae Yoo, a computational scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, tackles span a broad range of arenas, primarily because his focus is using large pieces of information and making sense of them.

Yoo helps refine and make sense of searches. He develops big data streaming algorithms that can apply to any domain where data scalability issues arise. Integrating text analysis with social network analysis, Yoo did his doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also earned a master’s degree, on creating systems that helped prioritize these electronic messages.

“If you are [traveling and] in the airport, before you get into your plane, you want to check your email and you don’t have much time,” he said. While this isn’t the main research work he is doing at the lab, this is the type of application for his work. Yoo developed his technical background on machine learning when he was at Carnegie Mellon. He said he continues to learn, improve and develop machine learning methods in various science domains. By using a statistical method that combines computational science skills, statistics and applied math, he can offer a comprehensive and, in some cases, rapid analysis of information.

Colleagues and collaborators suggested Yoo has made an impact with his work in a wide range of fields. His “contribution is not only in the academic field, but also means a lot on the industrial and academic field,” Hao Huang, a machine learning scientist at GE Global Research, wrote in an email. “He always focuses on making good use of data mining and machine learning theory on real world [areas] such as biology, renewable energy and [in the] material science domain.”

Yoo explained how a plant biologist can do stress conditioning for a plant with one goal in mind. That scientist can collect data over the course of 20 years and then they can “crunch the data, but they can’t always analyze it,” which might be too unwieldy for a bench scientist to handle. Using research from numerous experiments, scientists can study the data, which can provide a new hypothesis. Exploring the information in greater detail, and with increased samples, can also lead to suggestions for the best way to design future experiments.

Yoo said he can come to the scientist and use machine learning to help “solve their science data problem,” giving the researchers a clearer understanding of the broad range of information they collected. “Nowadays, generated data is very easy,” but understanding and interpreting that information presents bigger challenges. Take the National Synchrotron Light Source II at BNL. The $912 million facility, which went live online earlier this year, holds considerable promise for future research. It can look at the molecules in a battery as the battery is functioning, offering a better understanding of why some batteries last considerably longer than others. It can also offer a look at the molecular intermediaries in biochemical reactions, offering a clearer and detailed picture of the steps in processes that might have relevance for disease, drug interactions or even the creation of biological products like shells. He usually helps automate data analytics or bring new hypotheses to scientists, Yoo said. One of the many challenges in experiments at facilities like the NSLS II and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, also at BNL, is managing the enormous flow of information that comes through these experiments.

Indeed, at the CFN, the transmission electron microscopy generates 3 gigabytes per second for the image stream. Using streaming analysis, he can provide an approximate understanding of the information. Yoo received a $1.9 million, three-year Advanced Scientific Computer Research grant this year. The grant is a joint proposal for which Yoo is the principal investigator. This grant, which launched this September, is about high-performance computing enabled machine learning for spatio-temporal data analysis. The primary application, he said, is in climate. He plans to extend it to other data later, including, possibly for NSLS II experiments.

Yoo finds collaborators through emails, phone calls, seminars or anywhere he meets other researchers. Huang, who started working with Yoo in 2010 when Huang was a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook, appreciates Yoo’s passion for his work. Yoo is “dedicated to his research,” Huang explained. “When we [ran] our proposed methods and got results that [were] better than any of the existing work, he was never satisfied and [was] always trying to further explore to get even better performance.”

When he works with collaborators in many disparate fields, he has found that the fundamental data analysis methodologies are similar. He needs to do some customization and varied preprocessing steps. There are also domain-specific terms. When Yoo came to BNL seven years ago, some of his scientific colleagues around the country were not eager to embrace his approach to sorting and understanding large pools of data. Now, he said other researchers have heard about machine learning and what artificial intelligence can do and they are eager to “apply those methods and publish new papers.”

Born and raised in South Korea, Yoo is married to Hayan Lee, who earned her PhD at Stony Brook and studies computational biology and specializes in genome assembly. They have a four-year old son, Erum. Yoo calls his son “his great joy” and said he “gives me a lot of happiness. Hanging around my son is a great gift.”

When Yoo was entering college in South Korea, he said his father, who had worked at the National Institute of Forest Science, played an important role. After his father consulted with people about different fields, he suggested Yoo choose computer science over chemistry, which would have been his first choice. “He concluded that computer science would be a new field that would have a great future, which is true, and I appreciate my dad’s suggestion,” Yoo said.

Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions Inc.


Above, the 2016 cast of “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre Three gathers for a group photo before opening night last Saturday. The Port Jefferson theater celebrates its 33rd annual production of the immortal classic this holiday season.

Written by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season, selling six thousand copies by Christmas. Eight stage adaptations were in production within two months of the book’s publication.

Today, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey to find the true meaning of Christmas through visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is as popular as it was over 150 years ago. Charles Dickens, through the voice of Scrooge, continues to urge us to honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year. 

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Scrooge (Jeffrey Sanzel) encounters the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come for the first time. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Michael Tessler

Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge & Jessica Contino as Ghost of Christmas Past. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions., Inc.
Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge & Jessica Contino as Ghost of Christmas Past. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions., Inc.

Though the holidays are usually filled with joy, they’re certainly not without their own special breed of stress, which seems to melt away as Theatre Three gifts our community with a profound and magical experience that allows us to escape into the marvelous imaginative world of the late, great Charles Dickens. Theatre Three provides more than just a distraction — it provides unparalleled delights that will stir up the best childlike emotions in each of us.

Jeffrey Sanzel, the show’s director, faces the unique challenge of annually reimagining “A Christmas Carol.” He seamlessly completes this task with his usual grace and confidence. For over 30 years the show has been a must-see tradition for Long Island families and visitors. Sanzel’s vision shines brighter than ever as he masterfully directs his cast. While the story remains the same, its characters are all the more captivating because of the great direction he provides.

What’s most impressive is that not only does Sanzel direct, but he also stars in the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge. For those unfamiliar with the classic Dickens novel, Scrooge is a man whose greed supersedes his humanity. One night he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley (Steven Uihlein) who informs him that hell awaits him if he doesn’t change his ways. This propels him on an unlikely journey of self-reflection and change.

Sanzel plays not only an older Scrooge, but a younger more lively version of himself. His ability to change physicality and characters instantly is one of his most impressive qualities, and there are plenty!

Douglas J. Quattrock as Bob Cratchit & Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge in a scene from 'A Christmas Carol'. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Douglas J. Quattrock as Bob Cratchit & Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge in a scene from ‘A Christmas Carol’. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Bob Cratchit, played by the ever-so-gentle Douglas Quattrock, is beyond endearing. There’s a righteousness and goodness about this man that can be felt genuinely by the audience. Cratchit, who works as a clerk for the elderly Mr. Scrooge, endures considerable workplace trauma to make sure his family is fed and taken care of. Despite his hard work, his youngest son, Tiny Tim, remains at the precipice of death. Quattrock will have you grinning cheek to cheek as he embraces his wife played with love by Suzie Dunn and the rest of the family.

Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge & Jessica Contino as Ghost of Christmas Past in a scene from 'A Christmas Carol'. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge & Jessica Contino as Ghost of Christmas Past in a scene from ‘A Christmas Carol’. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Alongside Cratchit is the kind-hearted and abandoned nephew of Scrooge, Fred Halliwell. There’s a certain glee in Dylan Poulos’ performance. He’s almost infused with the spirit of Christmas itself, which I suppose would make sense as he also plays the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come! Halliwell seeks nothing more than to rekindle a relationship with his past by getting to know his only living relative, dear Uncle Scrooge. What he doesn’t realize is that his eyes are the same eyes as his departed mother, a painful reminder for old Ebenezer. Fan Scrooge Halliwell (Megan Bush/Sophia Knapp) lives and breathes in certain sequences, and perfectly portrays the love between two close siblings.

Among my favorite cast members is the larger-than-life Fezziwig, played with great fervor by George Liberman. He’s joined alongside his stage wife, played by Ginger Dalton. These two form a comedic pair that will have you smiling as wide as the horizon! There’s something so whimsical about watching Fezziwig’s ball unfold on-stage: the dancing, the singing, everything. Watching you can’t help but feel that you’re up there with them. My favorite part of this sequence is watching the curmudgeon Scrooge transform into a spruce young man who woos and proposes to Fezziwig’s daughter, Belle, played by a belle of extraordinary talent, Emily Gates.

Scrooge (Jeffrey Sanzel) with a very ‘cheeky’ Ghost of Christmas Present (Bobby Montaniz).
Scrooge (Jeffrey Sanzel) with a very ‘cheeky’ Ghost of Christmas Present (Bobby Montaniz). Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

All three spirits are truly splendid. Jessica Contino shines as the Ghost of Christmas Past, bringing Scrooge on a journey that forces him to reconcile many of the mistakes and heartbreaks a long life will bring. Bobby Montaniz nails perfectly the essence of the Ghost of Christmas Present, and while he’s not a giant, his impressive voice certainly sounds like he is! His deep laughter will echo in your belly all through the evening!

Finally the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come may be the most visually impressive puppetry I’ve seen at Theatre Three yet (and they pulled out an actual dragon for “Shrek!”). This massive and haunting figure must be at least 15 feet tall and is adorned in a black tattered cloak and hood and is perfectly embellished by the brilliant lighting layout by Robert Henderson.

In addition to an incredible cast and superb lighting, this is one of the most beautiful sets I’ve ever seen. There’s a craftsmanship that far exceeds your usual stage show, and not only does it show but genuinely adds to the ambiance of the production. I’ve got nothing but praise for Randall Parsons, the show’s production designer and his costume counterpart Bonnie Vidal.

There are many additional names in the cast and crew who are deserving of praise, especially the incredibly talented children who alternate each night and demonstrate a professionalism and talent well beyond their years. Give yourself and your loved ones a gift that is truly made of magic. Go see “A Christmas Carol.”

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 31. All tickets are $20 in November and range from $20 to $35 in December. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit

Photo courtesy of Comsewogue Public Library


The Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station recently announced that it has officially become a Family Place Library. Family Place Libraries redesign the library environment to be welcoming and appropriate for children beginning at birth and connect parents with resources, programs and services. Pictured from left are Kristen Todd-Wurm, Christine Kowalski, Director Debra Engelhardt, Audrey Asaro, Debbie Bush and Amanda Pendzick.