Events

From left, Brian X. Foley, Leg. Kara Hahn, Adrienne Esposito, Robert DiGiovanni Jr. and artist Jim Swaim
Environmental sculpture to highlight the plastic pollution crisis

By Heidi Sutton

The community came out to Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park last Sunday morning to celebrate the unveiling of Shelley the Sea Turtle, a six-foot metal sculpture that was installed at Field 1 to serve as a teaching tool to bring attention to the plastic pollution crisis around the world. It is the first of its kind in New York state.

The installation was made possible by a grant from The Long Island Futures Fund, an organization that supports projects that aim to protect and restore the Long Island Sound and unites federal and state agencies, foundations and corporations to achieve high-priority conservation objectives.

From left, Robert A. DiGiovanni Jr., Leg. Kara Hahn, Adrienne Esposito and Brian X. Foley at the unveiling;

The unique 3-D piece was created by artist Jim Swaim of Environmental Sculptures who attended the June 2 event. Based in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the company designs and builds large metal renditions of animals with the sole purpose to create art that inspires action. The sculptures are hollow and the community is encouraged to fill them with plastic items that would otherwise litter the landscape or waterways.

Since 2014, the company has installed over 20 environmental sculptures across the country in the shape of pelicans, whales, fish, frogs and a buffalo to, according to its website, “Serve as visual symbol of why we should protect the environment we enjoy.”

The unveiling, which was preceded by a beach cleanup, was hosted by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society and the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“This outstanding metal sculpture was undertaken for a very, very important reason — to highlight the importance of combating plastic pollution in Long Island Sound and all our waterways throughout the state, throughout the country and indeed throughout the world,” said Brian X. Foley, deputy regional director of the Long Island region for the state’s park system at the unveiling.

Plastic pollution is a global epidemic and considered one of three top concerns for ocean health. According to National Geographic, 73 percent of all beach litter is plastic and includes filters from cigarette butts, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags and polystyrene containers.

“Today’s event is about combining art with the environment in order to fight plastic pollution.” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, concurred. “Seals, turtles, whales, dolphins unfortunately are eating all of the plastic pollution that humans are leaving on the beach that washes out into the sea and when they ingest that plastic pollution it kills them,” she said.

Christina Faber of the Northport High School E Team deposits a plastic bottle into the sculpture.

George “Chip” Gorman, deputy regional director for New York state parks spoke about how the new sculpture complements the recent environmentally sensitive renovations to the park and a new environmental education center. “[Shelley] is going to educate people as they walk by that eliminating plastic will protect the environment but will also protect sea mammals and it’s a great project,” he said.

Chief Scientist Robert A. DiGiovanni Jr. of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society was hopeful for the future. “We are seeing more sea turtles and humpback whales in the Long Island Sound. We can make a difference about marine debris. There’s no reason why it needs to be there and to pick it up and move it off the beach is pretty easy,” he said.

“Clearly there has been a sea change in public attitude about plastics and it’s because of people like you who are taking a stand,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Port Jefferson).“We were successful in our plastic straw ban, our polystyrene ban, in reducing water bottle use and the plastic bag ban that now is statewide because people like you have said ‘No more.’ We don’t want to litter our landscape. We want to take care of what we have and we need to continue that fight,” she said.

The event concluded on a symbolic note, with children and students from Northport High School filling Shelley with plastic debris.

“Shelley will be a symbol for how important it is to remove the plastic that you bring onto the beach and maybe never bring any more the next time you come,” said Hahn.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

By Donna Deedy

Few D-Day veterans are alive today, but you can find three of them at Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, where an award ceremony was held June 6 in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day and Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious operation in military history.

One hundred World War II veterans were presented with the Governor’s Proclamation for the occasion, while Phillip DiMarco and Frank DePergola were decorated with the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and Charles Cino was decorated with the New York State Medal for Merit. All three men participated in the Normandy invasion.

Ninety-seven-year-old DiMarco was among the first wave of soldiers to storm the beach. “I’m just grateful to have survived,” he said.

Two-thirds of his fellow troopers perished in the first 30 minutes of battle, according to information provided by the state. DiMarco’s group suffered from wounds, hunger, exhaustion and trench foot and survived on green apples and stagnant water doped with halazone tablets, a chlorine-based water purifier. 

“Our World War II heroes and heroines who came of age during the Great Depression, gave new meaning to the words, duty, service, sacrifice, courage and honor,” said Fred Sganga, executive director of the veterans home. “They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs.”

War veterans often are understandably reluctant to talk about their horrific war experiences — it’s clearly too painful to relive. At their advanced ages, speaking also requires tremendous effort. Their stories live on through oral history and past memorials. But these men have stories to share from which history can be garnered. After 75 years, their summaries of what happened are often succinct and to the point. 

“There was this man who didn’t like Jews, and we got him,” 96-year-old DePergola said. DePergola was part of D-Day plus 10, meaning his troop arrived 10 days after the initial invasion. He was one of only four people to survive the war out of a platoon of 20, his daughter Jean Pulizzi said.

In his campaign in Germany and Poland, DePergola encountered what they thought were abandoned buildings, only to discover upon entering about 30 captives: Jews, Catholics and Muslims. It was essentially a concentration camp. The stench inside, he said, was intense and unforgettable. The people, he said, were emaciated and wore black and white striped uniforms.

“They were glad to see us,” DePergola said.

While on assignment from headquarters to retrieve maps, DePergola encountered two German soldiers in the woods in Metz, France. He took them captive with a German Luger pistol he had taken off another German officer earlier, since he forgot his issued rifle at headquarters, and returned to base with the captive soldiers. For this, he was awarded a Bronze Star, a military badge of heroism.

For Thursday’s ceremony, DePergola insisted on wearing his favorite cap, which bears the Purple Heart badge, an emblem that recognizes war injuries. DePergola was shot in the knee during battle, but back then, he said, you remained on active duty.  

Cino was 18 years old when he stormed the Normandy beaches. He was responsible for transporting under the cover of darkness thousands of troops in a landing ship tank, or LST, an amphibious boat capable of landing on shore carrying tanks, cargo and troops. Cino, when he heard it was the 75th anniversary of D-Day nodded, shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. He could utter only one full sentence, “I was there.” Then he closed his eyes. 

Both DePergola and DiMarco, in addition to their experience at Normandy, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive of World War II during the harsh winter in 1945.

The D-Day ceremony included color guards and live musicians, who sang patriotic tunes and played the bugle. About half of the veterans in attendance were in wheelchairs, and despite their limitations, tapped their toes to the music. Many were able to salute the flag. Some veterans wiped tears from their eyes, particularly when the room sang the lyrics to “God Bless America.” 

During World War II, 900,000 New Yorkers went to the battlefield; 43,000 did not come home. 

The nation’s largest population of World War II vets live at Long Island State Veterans Home

 

All photos by Donna Deedy

The new Village Chabad is on Nicolls Road in East Setauket. Photo by Stacey Heber

With decades of history in the Three Village area, a religious organization is ready to flourish in a new venue.

A view of the front entrance of the new Village Chabad on Nicolls Road. Photo by Stacey Heber

Nestled on Nicolls Road, a new building designed by Natalie Weinstein & Associates of St James is near completion for Chabad at Stony Brook which currently works out of Lake Grove. A ribbon cutting will be held June 23 to mark the beginning of a new era for the organization with a larger home for those it serves to gather in, along with a new moniker — Village Chabad.

The original name, Chabad at Stony Brook, came about 32 years ago when Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum and Rivkie Grossbaum, co-directors, moved from New Jersey and first worked with Stony Brook University students. Soon, the Chabad services extended beyond the school and into the Three Village community and surrounding areas, with a synagogue, preschool, Hebrew and elementary schools, activities for children and adult education.

“Thirty-two years ago, it started with the university, but over the years it developed into a vast array of broad programming,” said Grossbaum’s son Rabbi Motti Grossbaum, program director.

During a recent tour of the new building, the Grossbaums, who provide services with Rabbi Shalom Ber Cohen, director of education, said the Chabad outgrew its space in Lake Grove. Many programs had to be held at places such as the Bates House in Setauket, the Holiday Inn Express at Stony Brook and many other rentable spaces in the Three Village area due to lack of space.

“We were literally bursting at the seams there, which is why when we had to rent larger venues for community functions we rented up here in the Three Village area,” Motti Grossbaum said.

Chaim Grossbaum likened the new building to a village where everything a Jewish family needs would be under one roof. Like the Lake Grove location, Rivkie Grossbaum,  preschool director; Chanie Cohen, program coordinator; Chaya Grossbaum, camp coordinator; and Rivka Itzhaky, secretary and accounts payable/receivable, will join the rabbis.

“It would bring the community together as a village,” he said. “Whether they’re coming for the elementary school or coming for a holiday party, they’re coming home. They’re coming for prayer services or simply to relax with a friend over a cup of coffee. It’s the same home.”

The 13,000-square-foot Village Chabad sits on 8.8 acres of property, and 2.8 acres of it has been developed with a wooded buffer. There are classrooms, study rooms, a sanctuary, offices, a conference room, backyard, patio and a room that can hold 200 for events such as bat and bar mitzvahs and holiday dinners.

“This has been a community effort of many people who have stepped up and catapulted this whole project to happen.”

— Chaim Grossbaum

The rabbis said the new location would make it easier to serve the Jewish community who reside close to and on the North Shore. Many who attend services and activities at the Chabad are residents in the Three Village school district as well as Smithtown and Port Jefferson. The Chabad is open to anyone of the Jewish faith of any affiliation or background and membership is not required.

“The concept of Village Chabad is the wholesomeness that the Jewish community needs will be here,” Chaim Grossbaum said.

While the Chabad still holds a mortgage with Gold Coast Bank for the $5 million project, the rabbis said a number of sponsors, both big and small, stepped up to fund parts of the new building, including lead donors Edward and Vivian Merrin, owners of The Merrin Gallery in New York City, whose contribution kicked off the donations. Opportunities are still available for sponsorship as the Chabad hopes to finish a kitchen, install a playground for their school and a swimming pool for summer camp.

“This has been a community effort of many people who have stepped up and catapulted this whole project to happen,” Chaim Grossbaum said.

In addition to the rabbis, those who have attended services and events are looking forward to their new home. Cheryl and Bruce Singer, of Stony Brook, who have been involved with the Chabad for approximately four years, are among them.

“We look forward to having a modern building that provides a central hub for the Jewish community to learn, gather, worship, celebrate and participate in social and cultural events for all ages,” Cheryl Singer said.

Jennifer O’Brien, an insurance agent in Smithtown who travels to the Chabad from Hauppauge, said it has been nice to see it expand.

“Their new location looks like it will be the most upscale synagogue in our area as the floor plans are impressive to say the least,” O’Brien said. “My children loved attending Hebrew school at their former location in Lake Grove, and we are so excited for all that the grand opening and new accommodating space will offer a synagogue, school and camp.”

Andy Polan, president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said the new building “shows that our Jewish community is vibrant and growing.”

“It was Chabad’s outreach that inspired me to become more engaged with my Judaism and to take on leadership roles in our Jewish community,” Polan said. “These are experiences that will impact me forever.”

Motti Grossbaum said the Chabad currently serves about 500 active families and the move gives the Chabad the opportunity to benefit many more residents.

“We’re part of people’s lives, and we’re trying to bring meaning and purpose and to remind people that beyond the chaos of our day-to-day life, we all have a collective mission to make the world a better place every day,” Motti Grossbaum said.

The ribbon cutting will be held June 23 at 1 p.m. at the new building located at 360 Nicolls Road, East Setauket. Registration is required by visiting www.myvillagechabad.com.

By David Luces

For the fourth year running, the “greatest show and tell on Earth,” the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire, returns to the Village of Port Jefferson on June 8 and will once again be the epicenter of innovation, experimentation and lots of fun.

The Maker Faire, hosted by the Long Island Explorium, will take place in the explorium’s building, all three floors of the Port Jefferson Village Center and spill outside onto the nearby Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park. Makers from Long Island and beyond will congregate at the faire to showcase innovative robotics, kinetic and interactive art, fine sculptures and woodworking among others that will celebrate the boundary pushing worlds of science, technology, engineering, music, art and math. 

Last year over 100 makers and 2,000 visitors of all ages participated in the faire. Lisa Rodriguez, digital media manager for the explorium, said they expect more visitors this year and currently have 92 makers and counting as well as 13 roaming scientists.

“Anybody who is a maker will be there,” said Rodriguez in a recent phone interview. “It will be amazing [for visitors and makers] to be able to interact with so many different walks of life.

Angeline Judex, executive director of the explorium, said the faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. “It allows the community to experience firsthand how textbook science can translate into innovative solutions that can solve future challenges,” she said.

A featured performer this year will be lifetime professional physics demonstrator David Maiullo of “That Physics Show” who looks to bring his scientific “magic” to Port Jeff from his Off-Broadway performances in New York City. Maiullo’s performances are dubbed as a scientific cross between the Blue Man Group and The Gazillion Bubble Show.

The collective trio of Dirt People Studios will also make an appearance at this year’s faire to showcase a 10-foot, 2,000-pound bear with a heart, circulatory system, lungs and stomach. The anatomically correct statue was built by recycling and reusing a combination of organic and inorganic materials and putting them together like puzzle pieces. 

For the younger crowd, Rizuki Cosplay will feature favorite science fiction characters and offer classes on makeup, wigs, posing and much more. Also returning this year will be the Endor Temple Saber Guild to teach kids and adults the art of lightsaber choreography. 

Judex said the faire allows visitors to experience firsthand the importance of STEAM as well as inspire future makers of tomorrow. “It is important to inspire the future generation and help them see their education as a means of making the world a better place to live,” the executive director said. “The community is beginning to realize, appreciate and embrace how STEAM is an integral part of our society, environment and way of life.”

Judex said the best part of the event in her opinion is the fascination and wonder you can experience from interacting with the maker and fellow visitors. “It’s a full day of fun and learning that is transformative for both the young and the not so young,” she said.

The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire 2019 will be hosted by the Long Island Explorium, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person at the door. The event is held rain or shine. For more information, call 631-331-3277 or visit www.longislandexplorium.org.

Photos courtesy of the Long Island Explorium

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On June 1, under partially sunny skies, residents of Setauket and beyond enjoyed raffles, games, a bounce house, music, a dunk tank, pony rides and more on the Village Green.

The annual Setauket Church Fair was organized by the Setauket Presbyterian Church and Caroline Church of Brookhaven.  The Presbyterian church also offered a tag sale, and the Caroline Church set up a barn sale, where attendees could find items of all kinds including jewelry, dishware and toys.

The 2019 fair benefits To Write Love on Her Arms (a nonprofit dedicated to providing hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide) and also KO Cares (a nonprofit that addresses the needs of disadvantaged communities on Long Island).

 

 

'Summer Cottage'

You’re invited to a special event! The Reboli Center for Art and History located at 64 Main St. in Stony Brook will hold its 7th Painting Party on Wednesday, June 5 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.  The painting parties are always a total sell out, so be sure to register early to insure that you are part of the fun!   For a registration fee of $45, each participant will complete a new painting in the style of Joseph Reboli!  The subject matter for this event will be Summer Cottage, a wonderful summer painting to hang this season!  All supplies are included, and no experience is necessary.

The instructor for the evening is Linda Davison Mathues, an award winning, professional artist with representation in many Long Island art galleries.  Recognizing that there is a real interest in picking up a brush and painting in a fun social atmosphere, Linda and Eileen Sanger formed The Winey Painters.   Their strategies bring something unique to the painting party experience. The projects always are carefully planned around a famous artist, at the Reboli Center that artist is Joseph Reboli. Linda delves into just what makes a particular artist paint in a unique style.  Artists, past and present, lived very interesting lives, and The Painting Party combines art history with the painting.  With Linda’s many years of teaching experience, everyone leaves happy and sometimes amazed at their own hidden talent.

A reminder, Painting Party Seven has a limited enrollment, so sign up early.  To register, come to the Reboli Center or call 631-751-7707 during business hours, Tuesday – Saturday from 11 – 5 or Sunday from 1 – 5.

Come join the Painting Party and have a great time making your own Reboli masterpiece!

 

 

 

Both the East Setauket and Stony Brook Village Memorial Day parades May 27 featured something special this year.

At the end of the Stony Brook parade at Veterans Memorial Park and before the start of the East Setauket parade at Village Green, at the traditional memorial ceremonies, updated monuments were revealed with plaques to recognize the sacrifices made by the latest generations of American service members who served in the Cold War, Gulf wars and War on Terror. The Stony Brook plaque was funded by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and Stony Brook University.

In 2018, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) along with American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts located in Setauket, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson Station and the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University announced a two-phased effort to expand both memorials as well as the monuments at the East Setauket Veterans Memorial Park and along the Port Jefferson Harbor.

The Stony Brook and Setauket Village Green memorial stones were part of Phase I of the project. While the Village Green monument was ready in time for the ceremonies, a replica was installed at the Stony Brook site, according to Hahn, who said the completed plaque will arrive soon.

Phase II of the project will include renovating the East Setauket Veterans Memorial Park and the Port Jefferson Harbor sites. This phase is expected to be completed in time for Veterans Day, according to Hahn.

To prepare for the Memorial Day ceremony in Stony Brook, StoneGate Landscape Construction, owned by Chris Graf, cut back trees, cleaned out the underbrush, sprayed poison ivy, brought in two additional rocks to the site and planted trees. The services were provided by the company free of charge.

The Stony Brook parade and ceremony was sponsored by VFW East Setauket Post 3054 and American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766. The East Setauket parade was also organized by VFW Post 3054.

By Heidi Sutton

The Long Island State Veterans Home (LISVH) in Stony Brook honored our fallen heroes with a Memorial Day ceremony on May 24.

The special event featured speeches from Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley); Colonel James McDonough Jr., director of the New York State Division of Veterans Services; County Executive Steve Bellone (D); and was attended by many veterans living at the LISVH, elected officials including Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (D-Setauket) and Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R) and many veteran service organization members. 

Rabbi Joseph Topek gave the invocation, Rev. Gregory Leonard gave the benediction, Father Thomas Tuite gave a Veterans Prayer and Lee Ann Brill, Miss NY Senior America 2017, sang lovely renditions of “Star Spangled Banner,” “Wind Beneath My Wings, “Amazing Grace and “God Bless America.”

The afternoon commenced with a wreath laying ceremony conducted by James Carbone, World War II veteran and LISVH member, at the Walk of Heroes on the grounds; a color guard, firing detail and taps memorial by Marine Corps League East End Detachment 642, and a “Tolling of the Bells” memorial service led by LTC Marion McEntee, deputy director of nursing at the LISVH.

Rabbi Topek said it best in his opening prayer. “Today we remember those who have laid down their lives in service of our country, who in the words of President Lincoln have laid the most costly sacrifice upon the altar of freedom … May we the citizens of the United States remain mindful of those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom in the many conflicts of the past — Veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Persian Gulf War … May their memories always be a blessing to our nation today and every day.”

Photos courtesy of Doreen Guma and Congressman Zeldin’s office

RIBBON CUTTING

On May 24, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the main Law Office of Heather N. Kaplan, Esq., located at 84 Nesconset Hwy., Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Station. A second office is located in Garden City.

Pictured above, Heather Kaplan, center, with husband Joshua and their three children Julia, Lily and Charlotte cut the ribbon under the business’ sign surrounded by family member Andrea Freundlinger; Chamber President Joy Pipe of East End Shirt Co.; chamber members Tess Son of Digital Marketing Consultant and Nancy Bradley of People’s United Bank; and law firm staff members Brittany Garavelli, Diane Ferrette, Ali Kaplan and Amanda Caponi.

Specializing in New York State worker’s compensations claims, Kaplan is an accomplished litigator and has achieved excellent results at the Workers’ Compensation Board, New York Supreme Court and at the Appellate Courts.

For more information, call 631-574-2624 or visit www.nyinjuredworker.com.

By David Luces

Over 500 school kids from six different schools gathered on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society on May 17 as they were brought back to a pivotal time in our country’s history.

The Smithtown organization hosted its annual Civil War re-enactment as visitors were taken back to the 1860s and got a chance to experience how life was for soldiers and civilians during this time period.

Re-enactors and living historians from the 67th New York Company, 9th Virginia Infantry, Company C and 30th Virginia Infantry, Company B, dressed in authentic wool uniforms, spoke to the students about life during the 1860s, showed them how meals were prepared, ran military drills, displayed different types of weaponry from the era and demonstrated a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops.

Guests were also able to visit and talk to a battlefield doctor and were shown a cavalry demonstration by Boots and Saddles Productions. The cavalry showed students how different types of weapons were used while riding into battle and members took turns slashing at balloons tied to a wooden pole with a sword and then showed the difficulty of shooting a firearm while on a horse.

“I think it’s great that the students are here and they seem really excited,” said Smithtown Historical Society trustee Brian Clancy. “It’s a day off from school for them and they are learning something.”

For more information on the Smithtown Historical Society and its educational programs, visit www.smithtownhistorical.org.

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