Events

Public hearing at Town Hall will be Farmingville Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.

Rendering of the shopping center. Image from Brookhaven Town

Setauket developer Parviz Farahzad applied to the Brookhaven Town Planning Board for site plan approval to construct a 24,873 square foot retail center, known as Stony Brook Square LLC. The proposed shopping center is located on Route 25A near the Stony Brook railroad station. The plan includes site improvements for parking, lighting, drainage and landscaping.

J. Timothy Shea Jr., a partner in the real estate group of Certilman, Balin, Adler & Hyman LLP, represented Farahzad and Stony Brook Square at a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Dec. 14. The developer requested front yard setback variances for three of the proposed buildings as well as an addition to an existing building, from the required 25 feet to 11.5 feet; and a height variance for one of the buildings, from a permitted 35-foot height to a 60-foot height. The extra height will be used to raise a clock tower in the middle building at the rear of the center.

“We thought it was a nice feature,” Shea said during the proceedings.

A list of 10 recommendations made by the 25A Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee were read into the hearing record.

Eight homeowners or residents spoke in the public comment portion of the hearing. They expressed concerns regarding traffic safety on the busy road, environmental issues and the viability of adding retail space when there are so many unoccupied stores in the area.

“My first concern is safety,” Professor Erez Zadok of Stony Brook said. “On this stretch of road … people drive fast; over the limit. It’s dark. Additional traffic will make things worse.” He spoke of environmental concerns as well and questioned the need for additional retail space. The nearby Three Village Shopping Plaza currently has four available spaces according to Kristen Moore, spokesperson for Brixmor Properties, and there are three vacant units just down the street.

Several people spoke out against the granting of a variance that would nearly double the permitted height of the proposed clock tower.

Michael Vaeth viewed the tower as a marketing ploy.

“Currently, especially in the winter months, I have a view of the university and the train station,” he said. “I’m objecting to the 60-foot height. That would be the tallest building in all of the Three Villages — including Ward Melville High School.”

Vaeth’s neighbor Maureen Bybee said she didn’t see the need for the clock tower.

“I want to express my objection and opposition to the clock tower. It doesn’t seem to add anything … and it certainly will have an effect on the neighbors,” she said.

David Pauldy also asked the board to reject the height variance for the tower.

“It would have an effect on the neighborhood behind it,” he said. “It would be extremely visible and it would change the character of the neighborhood.”

The zoning board is allowed 62 days to rule on the request for variances, which gives the board until Feb. 14 to make its decision whether or not to grant the variances.

A public hearing is scheduled Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. at Brookhaven Town Hall in the board meeting room for residents and business owners to continue to voice their opinions on this development.

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn and recovering alcoholic and addict David Scofield answer questions posed by concerned parents at a past Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness meeting. File photo by Donna Newman

Heroin addiction can still be seen as a closely guarded secret in North Shore communities, but a couple of Three Village residents are doing their part to try to change that.

About 20 people were present Jan. 22 at the Bates House in Setauket for an informational meeting geared to help the loved ones of those battling heroin addiction. The addicts themselves were not present, but parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and other loved ones were, with the hope of gaining a greater understanding for how to combat the problem.

The gathering was a joint venture of both the public and private sectors, initiated by Lise Hintze, manager of the Bates House, a community venue in Frank Melville Memorial Park.

To help a loved one dealing with addiction call Lise Hintze 631-689-7054

“Pretending we don’t have a drug problem [in our community] only hurts the children and perpetuates the problem,” Hintze said. “I have a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old and we’ve been to too many funerals. Parents say ‘not my child, not in our town’ but it’s very real and it’s happening here.” 

Stony Brook resident Dori Scofield, who lost a son to heroin addiction in 2011, established Dan’s Foundation For Recovery in his memory to provide information and resources to others. Old Field resident Dana Miklos also has a son battling addiction and she wants to share what she has learned to empower parents and help them deal with addiction’s many challenges. The two represent the “private” interests.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come out and talk about it is to give parents ways to navigate through this horrible process,” Scofield said. “From being at the hospital when your son or daughter ODs and you know you have to get them into treatment, but you don’t know [how].”

Scofield said she dialed a 1-800 number someone had given her when her son overdosed and said she lucked out when the placement turned out to be a good one. She told the event attendees they need not “reach out to a stranger” as she did. She can help.

Miklos wants to eliminate the stigma that keeps affected families in hiding.

“I want parents to know the three Cs: they didn’t cause it, they can’t cure it, and they can’t control it,” she said. “We become so isolated [dealing with an addicted child] just when we should be talking to other parents, supporting each other.”   

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who has been working to alleviate the community’s drug problem since taking office, also participated in the event.

“In 2012, the first year I was in office, I couldn’t believe this would be something I could work on and change,” Hahn said. “But I wrote legislation that got Narcan — which is an antidote for opioid overdoses — for our police sector cars. Within a matter of days we were saving one, two, three a day. Within two weeks we had an officer who had two saves back to back.”

Hahn said she authored another bill that would make sure there was a follow-up for each person saved. A Narcan reversal saves a life, but does nothing to end the need for the drug and the cravings. The second piece of legislation tasks the health department with reaching out to those saved to attempt to get them into treatment.

A third piece of legislation she wrote provides training for lay people — like the group assembled at the Bates House — to carry and use Narcan. She encouraged all present to be trained and prepared.

The statistics Hahn gave for Narcan saves showed a steady increase over the last five years. In 2012 after passage of the legislation in August, there were 325 saves. Numbers rose year by year to 475 in 2013, 493 in 2014, 542 in 2015 and 681 in 2016 when at least 240 people died of overdoses, according to Hahn.

David Scofield, who has been sober for three years, delivered a message of hope for those in attendance.

“I don’t have the answers,” he said. “I do know how [it is] to be a kid struggling with drug addiction. This thing is killing people. Hundreds of people are dying from heroin addiction every day and you don’t hear about it. That’s just the truth.”

Scofield’s message also included a plea for loved ones of addicts to get past the stigma of addiction and bring the conversation to the community. As long as people hide the cause of death, he said, he believes kids will continue to die.

For information about this support group, call Lise Hintze 631-689-7054.

Victoria Espinoza, left, marched with her sister Gabriella in New York City last Saturday. Photo from Victoria Espinoza

This past weekend more than one million people gathered across the world to participate in the Women’s March, a grassroots movement organized by multiple independent coordinators. I am proud to have been one of those million or so.

As diverse as the crowds were at each sister march across the country so were the reasons each person marched. The mission of the Women’s March on Washington, to give its full title, was to stand up and protect the rights of every man, woman and child in the United States.

Their website states the rhetoric of the last election cycle alienated, insulted and demonized many groups including immigrants, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, people with disabilities, and survivors of sexual assault.

Make no mistake, this is a fact — and no, Kellyanne Conway, in no way is it an alternative fact. President Donald Trump (R) alienated many groups during the campaign season. Speeches and comments targeted Hispanics, the disabled, women and many more. Trump’s own past words serve as verification of this fact with quotes like, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

So for those asking why marchers felt the need to protest, there should be no confusion: People felt the need to stand up, defend and support each other after the litany of comments made in 2016 and earlier by the president, and for others the promises and administration choices made since. This march was meant to show they are not alone, and we stand by them.

I marched to be an ally, but to also send a message to my government that my political consciousness is alive and well, and I will be watching and reacting to everything the new administration puts forward. This is not simply to make myself feel better when I air my grievances about the state of the country.

In early January, Republican members of Congress voted during a closed-door meeting to place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under the control of those lawmakers. The proposal would have barred the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, and give the House Committee on Ethics the power to stop an investigation at any point. Currently the ethics panel operates as an independent, nonpartisan entity. Although it was served as ethics reform, public outcry condemning the legislation caused lawmakers to pull the bill almost immediately.

The public in this act was informed of the workings of their government, reacted, and was able to turn the tide. This is what the Women’s March represents to me — the beginning of a greater level of awareness.

The day after the march, the organization released their next step in continuing to fight for the rights of all citizens: 10 Actions in 100 Days. Their first action is a letter-writing campaign to senators to keep the conversation going.

Various media reports are saying the Women’s March was the largest march in U.S. history.

Let’s look back at other significant marches. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 saw more than 250,000 listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., demanding equality. The following year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The first major anti-Vietnam War protest with between 500,000 and 600,00 people was held in 1969. Several more rallies, marches and protests were planned after that and in 1973 America had officially ended its involvement.

Of course these marches are not the sole reason change took place. But they were certainly part of a domino effect.

The People’s Climate Change March in 2014 was the largest climate-change march in history, and although most scientists would agree we still have a long way to go, the Paris Agreement of 2015 marked a historic turning point for dealing with the world’s emission of greenhouse gases.

Anyone who felt inspired and enthused by the marches across the globe last Saturday shouldn’t just sit back to reflect. Continue to be informed and voice opinions, because it matters. Former President Barack Obama (D) said, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,” during his farewell address.

For all the participants, you were a part of one of the largest nonviolent protests in history — with zero arrests in Washington, D.C., and New York City, the marches with the most numbers. Be proud of your involvement, stay informed and do not stop letting your voice be heard.

Victoria Espinoza is the editor of the Times of Huntington and Northport and the Times of Smithtown.

Give the gift of life. In memory of John Drews Jr, the Sound Beach Fire Department, 152 Sound Beach Blvd., Sound Beach will host a blood drive on Friday, Jan. 27 from 3 to 9 p.m. Community hospitals are experiencing an emergency blood shortage. Your donation will help to save up to three lives. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call John at 631-336-0626.

Held by Greg Drossel, Holtsville Hal says hello to the large crowd gathered at last year’s event. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Six more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Pennsylvania may have the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, but New York has Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal, Sweetbriar Sam and even Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave.

In the Town of Brookhaven, the great prognosticator of prognosticators, Holtsville Hal will be the star of the day as the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve will celebrate with its annual Groundhog Day event on Feb. 2 with the gates opening at 7 a.m. Wayne Carrington will return as the master of ceremonies and Hal will be handled by Greg Drossel.

From left, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro, emcee Wayne Carrington and Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point)) at last year’s event. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

According to tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after stirring from hibernation on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early. Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) will serve as Mayor of the Day and reveal Hal’s forecast at approximately 7:25 a.m. “Our annual Groundhog Day celebration is an enjoyable tradition for many local families,” Losquadro said. “While I’m always hopeful Hal will not see his shadow, predicting an early spring, either way this is a much-anticipated event each year in Brookhaven Town.”

“Groundhog Day at the Ecology Site is always fun for families who have made it an annual tradition and for those who come for the very first time,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). “I always look forward to Holtsville Hal’s prognostication, but I hope he doesn’t see his shadow and we have an early spring.”

Although he’s sure to be the center of attention, Holtsville Hal will not be the only animal available for viewing on Feb. 2. Following the ceremony, the community is welcome to stay and enjoy some free hot chocolate and visit the more than 100 animals that live at the animal preserve, which will remain open until 3 p.m. at no charge.

The Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville. Parking is free. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

Isabella Panag, Kelly Wang, Zekey Huang, Snigdha Roy, and Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris during the board of education meeting, where certificated were presented to winners and runner-ups of the district-wide spelling bee. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Two Mount Sinai students, sixth grader Zekey Huang and fourth grader Carrie Wang, will represent the district in the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra University next month. The two spelled their way to victory in building-wide competitions held at the middle school and elementary school, which were judged by administrators and members of the English faculty.

Last week, at the district’s board of education meeting at Mount Sinai Middle School, students from both buildings, grades one through eight, who participated in the annual spelling bee in December, were presented with certificates of recognition on behalf of the board.

“As a former athlete and former teacher, I love academic competition and I’m really just so proud of all the participants,” Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris said. “They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

Among the four middle school finalists were seventh graders Isabella Panang and Kelly Wang, who tied for third place; seventh grader Snigdha Roy, who, according to the principal, had been in a “fierce, back and forth battle” with Huang during the competition, won second place; and 11-year-old Zekey, who ultimately took first place by spelling “flammable.”

“They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

— Peter Pramataris

This is the second time Zekey, who said he’s “happy and really excited,” will represent Mount Sinai at Hofstra, having competed after winning the spelling bee as a fourth grader. He and Carrie will be taking a written test Feb. 5 and, assuming they pass, will be competing in the traditional oral portion on the stage of John Cranford Adams Playhouse on Feb 12, with the hopes of making it to the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. during the spring.

“We’re very proud of him,” Zekey’s father, Edward, said. “He has accomplished a lot in the elementary and middle school, and we’re very thankful for the opportunity that the school gave us.”

Speaking about Carrie, Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore said the fourth grader is poised, beyond her years and is preparing to compete on a daily basis.

“When she stops me in the hallway, she gives me a word to spell, and when I stop her in the hallway, I give her a word to spell,” Gentilcore said in a phone interview. “It’s nice to see her excitement shine through and [we’re] very excited for her.”

The principal said during the spelling bee, the 9-year-old and her fourth grade co-champs quickly made their way through the fourth grade list of words, ending up with words at the eighth grade level in the final round. In terms of reaching the finals in Washington, Gentilcore said he’s knocking on wood.

“Typically,” he said, “one of the older students will win, but anything can happen.”

Artist Stan Brodsky in his studio. Photo from Pam Brown
‘Santa Barbara #5’ by Stan Brodsky

Stan Brodsky, noted Huntington painter and C. W. Post professor emeritus of art, will be featured at the Reboli Center for Art and History’s second Third Friday event to be held Friday, Jan. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. This event is one of a series of free monthly cultural programs sponsored by the Center, located at 64 Main St., Stony Brook, that bring new perspectives on art and artists.

Stan Brodsky has been painting for more than 60 years and is known for his colorful abstract landscape paintings. He exhibits at a number of galleries and his paintings were the subject of a retrospective at the Hecksher Museum in 2013. Joe Reboli was an admirer of Brodsky’s paintings.

Doug Reina, a well-known local artist who has studied with Brodsky, will be interviewing Mr. Brodsky about his evolution as an artist, his sources of inspirations, and his observations about the art world in general. Although Mr. Brodsky is now 91, his passion for painting continues and his current work reflects his vigilance to his work as an artist.

The Reboli Center’s Third Friday program is free to the public and no reservations are required. For more information about the event, go to www.ReboliCenter.org or call the Reboli Center at 631-751-7707.

Edna White offers a section of clementine to her granddaughter, Alexandria McLaurin. Photo by Donna Newman

In today’s world, the loudest voices often preach a message of divisiveness and look to create an environment that excludes rather than accepts. This message runs contrary to the one preached by Martin Luther King Jr. and [his] vision for a just and peaceful future.

The invitation extended to community members was made in those words for an event titled We Thirst for Justice at the Bates House in Setauket Jan. 16 — the designated commemoration of the birth of the civil rights leader.

The event was organized by Michael Huffner, co-founder of the Community Growth Center with locations in Smithtown and Port Jefferson Station, in partnership with the All Souls Episcopal Church in Stony Brook. A newly formed service organization, The Spot — a new service group that provides resources, community and mentoring— and artist Alex Seel of the Center for Community Awareness facilitated a collaborative art project for the multifaith gathering. Each person was invited to record his/her vision of justice on a small square of colored paper. Seel, assisted by Vanessa Upegui worked to merge the squares into a colorful mosaic.

Huffner said he hoped the celebration would inspire people to work collaboratively for justice.

Vanessa Upegui and Alex Seel pause to display their art project. Photo by Donna Newman

“What seems like a small piece of paper can become a beautiful work of art when combined with others,” he said at the event. “What seems like a small voice becomes a sound capable of changing the world when combined with others … Dr. King’s message is simple. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must be the light; we must be the love that Dr. King spoke about.”

The Rev. Farrell Graves, spiritual leader of the All Souls Church, an associate chaplain at Stony Brook University and a founder of The Spot, added his take on the day’s significance.

“This is the joyful part of our work,” he said at the event. “We also have some more difficult work — to stand up for the common good. Freedom is for everyone, or it’s for no one. The cost of our freedom is constant vigilance, and by that I mean awareness, and I include in that self-awareness … If we don’t have the courage to look ourselves in the face, then fear and scapegoating take over. We start blaming others for our inadequacies … This is not yet the world that Martin Luther King envisioned. If we want to change the world, we must have the courage to change ourselves.”    

Seel stressed the importance of the fact that the civil rights movement of the ’60s was a collaborative effort and that such an endeavor is needed again to further the cause of justice in our country in our time.

“What we need now is leadership,” he said. “We need leaders who will bring different faith communities together. There needs to be a call to engage in a clear and effective goal.”

The event included live music and a diversity of foods. More than 65 people attended and, while the host organizations encouraged mixing and mingling, when approached, most people admitted they were sitting with people they already knew.

From left, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly in a scene from ‘Singin’ in the Rain. Courtesy Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.

What a glorious feeling!

In celebration of its 65th anniversary, Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. Entertainment will bring “Singin’ in the Rain” back to nearly 700 select cinemas nationwide on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. as part of its TCM Big Screen Classics series. Running time is 2 hours.

The event, which gives audiences a chance to see Debbie Reynolds in her breakout role and Gene Kelly at the pinnacle of his career, also includes exclusive commentary from Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, who will give insight into this classic film. Starring Reynolds, Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse and Rita Moreno, the 1952 classic is still as fresh and delightful as the day it was released.

Musician Don Lockwood (Kelly) rises to stardom during Hollywood’s silent-movie era — paired with the beautiful, jealous and dumb Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). When Lockwood becomes attracted to young studio singer Kathy Selden (Reynolds), Lamont has her fired. But with the introduction of talking pictures, audiences laugh when they hear Lamont speak for the first time — and the studio uses Selden to dub her voice.

“Sixty-five years ago, no one dreamed that we would still be watching ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in 2017,” said Gene Kelly’s widow, film historian Patricia Ward Kelly. “Gene would be very proud.” “Singin’ in the Rain,” set in the days of Hollywood’s transition from silent films to “talkies,” continues to this day to provide pure cinematic entertainment. Written by legendary musical “book” writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green, “Singin’ in the Rain” was helmed by renowned directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and is the No. 1 musical on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of the “25 Greatest Movie Musicals” (2007) and No. 5 on AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Movies” list (2007).

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook; Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale; and Island 16 Cinema de Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville.

Future “TCM Big Screen Classics” films for 2017 will include “Some Like It Hot,” “The Godfather,” “The Graduate,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “An Affair to Remember,” “All About Eve,” “The Princess Bride,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “North by Northwest,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and Casablanca.” For more information, visiti www.fathomevents.com.

Kids play with Nerf guns and dodgeballs with the local officers as part of Police Unity Night. Photo by Kevin Redding

Officers within the Suffolk County Police Department replaced their handguns and black shoes with Nerf blasters and orange “sky socks” Jan. 4 for a night of bouncy Nerf battles with local kids at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Mount Sinai.

When the officers and kids weren’t crouched behind inflatable bunkers dodging foam darts, together they dodged balls in “dodge-a-cop” matches, shot basketballs and leaped into a giant pit full of foam cubes.

Suffolk County 6th Precinct Crime Section Officer Anthony Napolitano prepares to hurl a dodgeball. Photo by Kevin Redding

SCPD’s young friends were even invited to sit in the front and back seats of the patrol cars, were shown how to turn on the sirens and lights and were allowed to use the car’s PA speaker.

Donned Police Unity Night, the event will take place the first Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. It started as a one-night dodgeball event over the summer by Sky Zone Director of Events Nicole Tumilowicz, as a way of showing support for SCPD and helping bridge the relationship between law enforcement and the people it serves.

It was such a big hit among the community, she said, she and her organization decided to host the event in collaboration with community liaison officers from the 3rd and 6th Precincts on a monthly basis in Mount Sinai. Events are also hosted with local police departments at the Sky Zone in Deer Park. Officers and their own children always jump for free, and each month the event will feature food donations from a different local business.

For $20, families poured into the popular indoor park for two hours of fun, community camaraderie and food — Brooklyn Bagels & Cafe of Rocky Point served sandwiches, bagels and cookies.

“This is our way of giving back and really getting involved,” Tumilowicz said. “We want to get the community together, have fun, increase police relations and give our guests a chance to interact with [the SCPD] on a different level and see them in a different light. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Sixth Precinct Community Liaison Officer Casey Hines, a former social worker who frequently speaks on public safety at local school districts, and has partnered with Sky Zone in training its staff on what to do in dangerous situations, said it’s important to her that the public isn’t intimidated and guarded when it comes to interacting with the police.

She wants people to know their names and see them as people they can go to for help.

“When these kids have a problem or they have somebody bullying them or they just need somebody to talk to, I want them to feel they can say ‘you know, I’m gonna call Casey about this and see what she says,’” Hines said. “It’s wonderful to be able to have a rapport with the community in a positive environment.”

Children goof around with cops outside Sky Zone in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

She’s also having fun.

“We’re jumping, and defenses are down [here],” she said. “The kids and parents know that we’re here to help them.”

Officer Todd Bradshaw, of the 6th Precinct’s Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit, echoed Hines’s feelings when reminiscing about the dodgeball event over the summer.

“I remember a few of the kids — one or two in particular — were really kind of nervous and taken aback by the fact that police were there playing dodgeball and bouncing with them,” he said. “But after a while, they saw us being goofy and loosening up, and then they felt comfortable smiling next to us and playing with us and then wailing dodgeballs at us. They realized we were approachable.”

Eufrasia Rodriguez, from Rocky Point, shared the Police Unity Night post on Facebook, and in doing so, wound up winning a free ticket for her son Justice, a 14-year-old boy with autism.

“I shared it because we have a charity called Justice 4 Autism and we figured this would be a great opportunity for kids to play with and meet the police,” Rodriguez said. “Justice was so excited to come and meet the police and jump. On our way here we heard police sirens and he was like ‘is that them?’”

Her son was quick to run up and take a picture with 6th Precinct Crime Section Officer Anthony Napolitano at the entrance.

“They’re all a bunch of good kids,” said Napolitano. “This means a lot to them; so hopefully it keeps them off the streets and inside.”

6th Precinct Community Liaison Officer Casey Hines talks to kids. Photo by Kevin Redding

Cameron Tyburski, a 12-year-old from Shoreham-Wading River Middle School, came to the event with some of his classmates.

“It’s great because there’s free food and I showed some of the cops how to do front flips,” Tyburski said.

“I feel protected,” Amanda Lahey, 12, said.

Kelly Riess, 12, whose dad is a cop, said this was her second time at one of the events.

“It’s really fun, and it’s great to go around and meet the cops and all the families,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea to do this.”

To end the night, in Sky Zone’s largest trampoline-covered arena, Hines and fellow officer Jennifer Mackey led their team of kids into a full-fledged Nerf war against Napolitano and his own group. Bouncing back and forth between trampolines, taking cover and loading up on foam darts in between shots, Hines’s “red team” took the victory.

“You can’t walk out of here without a huge smile on your face and feel awesome, it’s just great,” Hines said. “There’s nothing like having these little kids running up to you and being like ‘I shot you’ or ‘you got me … can you play again?’ It’s them just being real with us, and I love it.”

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