Holidays

The Smithtown Historical Society’s annual community wreath contest drew 17 contenders. Each wreath, made with care and donated by a community member, hung in the Frank Brush Barn for its annual Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 6 and at its Heritage Country Christmas fair on Dec. 7. Wreath winners were drawn at the end of the Christmas fair. Best in Show was awarded to Marti McMahon for her festive pointsettia wreath, second place was handed to Marie Gruick for her adorable snowman wreath and third place went to Sandy Bond for her beautiful pinecone creation. Congratulations to all the winners!

by -
0 76
Top, William, Charles and Marie Reed at the harbormaster building in Port Jeff. Below, William and other volunteers make sure the trains run smoothly. Photos by Kyle Barr

As the Dickens Festival filled in the chilly outdoor air with 19th-century charm, the harbormaster building itself piped into the village a different kind of old-time allure, that of locomotives and steam engines. More than 20 miniature trains ran in inexhaustible loops, little jets of steam puffing from their chimneys. Boy Scouts of Troop 354 hovered over the tracks, along with Charles, Marie and William Reed of Port Jefferson Station. 

Charles, the father, owns the trains and knows how to put all the complicated parts and tracks together. William, who makes the words “train enthusiast” seem an understatement, knew each of the models and could do “train talk” with something of a dizzying speed. Ask the youngest Reed, who’s an Eagle Scout with Troop 354, about trains and he’ll tell you about trains in far-off places.

“Korean railways is the national railway they have there, some of their high-speed trains are French derived, based on the French models like the KCX1 and 2,” he said.

The young man dashed around and between the tables, adding liquid to the trains’ stacks and helping his father fix the tracks.

The Reed family has been chugging along for the last several weeks setting up the train display, although in earnest the family spent several months beforehand gathering all the materials it needs to have on hand. Setting up the public display has meant several long nights, carting box after box of train collections, laying it out and making sure each is in operating order. The family asks for donations at the door, where on average around $1,400 is raised for Toys for Tots.

“We don’t need them in the boxes, that’s why we can take them out and share them,” Marie, the mother, said.

In previous years, another man used to set up trains during the Dickens Festival. After he moved away, the Reed family stepped in. Marie said that, while he would have a score of volunteers, the Reed family only has themselves and a few people from the Scout troop.

Charles said that each year since they started, six years ago, they have added more tables. At first, they had six tables with 10 trains. Today they set up 10 tables with 20 trains. 

“It’s crazy, but it comes together eventually,” the father said.

The amount of effort the family puts into it was recently acknowledged by Mayor Margot Garant at a Port Jefferson village meeting in November. 

By Heidi Sutton

The holidays have arrived at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts in a most delightful way. While a spunky orphan commands the spotlight in the theater’s current main stage production of Annie, a spirited young girl named Emily stars in the second annual children’s theater production of Ken Ludwig’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

Directed by Christine Boehm, the 45-minute fast-paced show with the underlying message “to make life an adventure” is the perfect choice to introduce young children to live theater.

It’s Christmas Eve and Uncle Brierly (Evan Donnellan) greets the audience with a recitation of “the greatest poem of all time,” Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by Amos the Mouse (Jae Hughes) who is in fact stirring, cookie dough that is, to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year. You see, Amos and his best human friend Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo) were left off the Naughty or Nice list last year and never received any presents.

It is then that Calliope the Elf (Lisa Naso) shows up to investigate and, after telling Emily and Amos that many other children around the world had the same thing happen to them, convinces them to accompany her back to the North Pole to tell Santa the troubling news and to save Christmas.

When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they overhear a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Donnellan), and his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), plotting to sell the Naughty and Nice list to retailers just like last year.

What follows is a whirlwind attempt to retrieve the list complete with a surprise appearance from Amos’ brother (the amazing Hughes in a dual role), a hilarious case of mistaken identity, a sword fight, an elf cheer, a visit from Santa Claus (Panarello) and a chase scene through the theater to the Benny Hill theme song. There is no shortage of excitement in this show and the cast does a wonderful job portraying this sweet holiday story.

Booster seats are available and snacks are sold during intermission. Stay after the show for a meet and greet and photos with the cast in the lobby.  

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown presents Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Dec. 15, 22, 28 and 29 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Shrek The Musical Jr. from Feb. 1 to March 1 and Flat Stanley Jr. from May 16 to June 21. All seats are $18. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org

All photos by Cassiel Fawcett

 

by -
0 77
Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce celebrates its tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 7. Photos by Joan Nickeson

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce opened the holiday season Dec. 7 with its annual tree-lighting ceremony outside the chamber-owned train car at the corner of Routes 347 and 112.

Chamber leaders were joined by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), not to mention Santa Claus himself. Members of the PJ Station-based School of Rock and Backstage Studio of Dance were available for live entertainment. Refreshments were served by Buttercup’s Dairy Store and Colonial Coffee.

The next night, Dec. 8, the chamber started its annual Polar Express Experience nights, allowing young people to watch “The Polar Express” inside the chamber’s train car, where they were served a candy cane, cookies and hot cocoa.

The chamber is hosting additional Polar Express experiences Saturday and Sunday through December.

Port Jefferson hosted its 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival Dec. 6-8. Photo by Kyle Barr

A silent night Dec. 6 opened up the weekend with Port Jefferson Village’s annual lantern dedications, but as night turned to day, Port Jeff was suddenly filled with characters straight out of a classic 19th century Dickens Classic. For the 24th year in a row, the village was suffused with the sights and sounds of Christmas spirit during the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Volunteers acted scenes from A Christmas Carole and other Dickens books, such as a live, local musical version of Oliver Twist. Visitors could visit the Village Center for ice skating, the festival of trees or a live reading of A Christmas Carol. A constant supply of marshmallows were up for grabs to roast over a fire, and businesses all shared Christmas and Dickens themed dinners and specials. Over at Theatre Three, A Christmas Carol was acted out Friday through Sunday, and is going on all the way until Dec. 28.

Frosty, Jenny and the Narrator sing ‘One Friend Is Better Than No Friends’ in a scene from the show.
Interactive show is a big hit with young audiences

By Heidi Sutton

In perfect timing with the frigid weather, the John W. Engeman Theater presents its annual production of “Frosty” through Dec. 29. Directed by Jennifer Collester, the wintry show has become a holiday favorite for many families over the years.

“I’m here to take you on a little adventure,” teases the Narrator (Jessica Gray) as the audience is introduced to the town of Chillsville, “A beautiful town way up north that is always covered with a blanket of fresh snow.” 

The cast of ‘Frosty’

There we meet Jenny (Katie Dolce), a little girl who’s favorite thing to do is to play outside. With help from her mother (Nicole Weitzman), Jenny builds a snowman she names Frosty (played by Dylan Poulos). Once she puts the finishing touches on the snowman, including a hat and scarf, he magically comes to life. Just like the song, Frosty is a jolly, happy soul and wait until you see him sing and dance!

Unfortunately, mean Ethel Pierpot (Sari Feldman), who makes snow shovels, snow blowers and ice scrapers in her factory on the other side of town, has just invented a weather machine that will eventually make all the snow melt in Chillsville so that she can build a bigger factory. Frosty has only a few hours before “He’ll be nothing more than a puddle and a carrot.”

The songs, including “One Friend Is Better Than No Friends” and “Thanks to You,” are playful and fun with the exception of “Pierpot’s Solution,” which is quite sinister! In the grand finale, the audience joins the cast in a rousing rendition of “Frosty the Snowman.”

From the opening number, “Snow!,” the audience is encouraged to clap and sing, help Jenny write a letter and find a way to help save the melting snowman. “How can we save Frosty?” the Narrator asks.
“Put him in a blast chiller!” is one response. “Get the key and turn off the machine!” is another. Of course! 

Frosty and Jenny in a scene from the show.

What will happen to Frosty? Well, you’ll have to see the show to find out. There is a great snowball fight and it will snow in the theater but I’ve already given away too much so I’ll stop. I do recommend taking the kids and heading to Northport to catch a performance of “Frosty” — it will be one of the best presents they’ll receive this holiday season.

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for pictures and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program. Running time is 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents “Frosty” through Dec. 29. The theater’s 2019-20 Youth Season continues with Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” from Jan. 25 to March 1. All seats are $15. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photos by Jennifer Collester

by -
0 142
From left, Kevin Mann of the Rotary Club of Rocky Point; Pam, Lewin Farms farm manager and Keith Owens of KO Cares. Photo from Mann

For over two decades, on the day before Thanksgiving, the Rotary Club of Rocky Point, along with a local farm, has facilitated over 300,000 pounds of produce to get into the hands of people who need it.

The Calverton-based Lewin Farms, which Rocky Point Rotarian Kevin Mann called “the big farm with an even bigger heart,” has hosted volunteers from soup kitchens and food pantries looking for fresh produce. On Thanksgiving Eve 23 volunteers from seven soup kitchens and food pantries converged on Lewin’s to gather around 20,000 pounds of produce and fruit. 

The seven groups that came are Long Island Cares, which gathered 8,896 pounds of food, Island Heart Food Pantry in Middle Island, The Friendship Kitchen in Middle Island, Mount Sinai Congregational Church, Friend’s Kitchen in Rocky Point, North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River, the Medford-based KO Cares and the Gordon Heights SDA Church.

Mann said the project will continue next year and thanked Lewin Farms for its consistent help. 

File photo by Alex Petroski

Port Jefferson’s Santa Parade, scheduled for today, December 1, at 3 p.m., and Santa’s Workshop has been cancelled due to the weather. The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce sent out the following statement:

“The weather projection  from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight is saying 100% precipitation, rain maybe a little snow, sleet…etc.! Because the Santa’s workshop would have been open in conjunction to the parade that is ALSO closed for today, resuming next week for Dickens!”

There is no rain date. For further information, call 631-473-1414.

 

by -
0 260
Judges taste pies made by local residents, making the decision on both taste and texture. Photo by Kyle Barr
PJSD student in the aftermath of the pie-eating contest. Photo by Kevin Wood

Pie to die for was served up at the Village Center in Port Jefferson Nov. 23 as the village hosted its first Pie Bake Off and Eating Contest, sponsored in part by Torte Jeff Pie Co. and the Village of Port Jefferson. 

Residents and locals, even one who hailed from across the Sound in Connecticut, sent over two versions of their home-made pumpkin pies to see which would be the cream of the crop. Six judges, including Mayor Margot Garant and trustee Kathianne Snaden, as well as Torte Jeff Pie Co. owner Lisa Harris tried slices of 33 pies, judging them on crust, taste, sliceability and more. By the end, it was general surgeon Dr. Lawrence Kelly of Port Jefferson who won first place. Second place was tied between Tom Capodanno and Beth Whitford. The pies were raffled off for those wanting to take them home, and over $250 was donated to the food pantry at Infant Jesus Church in Port Jeff.

After the judging, both adults and kids from Port Jefferson Elementary School took part in a blueberry pie-eating contest, with Luke Musto winning in the children’s division. In a contest between the village and school, the village barely managed to pull ahead. Finally, Jimmy Purificato won in the public pie-eating contest.