Holidays

The 25th annual Spirits Cemetery Tour: The Unforgotten will be long remembered as a great success for Three Village Historical Society and a night of spooky merriment for both volunteers and visitors. The event, co-chaired by Frank Turano and Janet McCauley, was sold out days in advance and attracted around 340 visitors.

The actors, dressed in period garb provided by Antique Costumes and Prop Rental by Nan Guzzetta, mingled among tombstones and tourgoers at the Setauket Presbyterian Church cemetery and Caroline Church of Brookhaven cemetery. Twelve “spirits” recounted stories of lives that spanned the centuries and crossed the continents, but all connected to Setauket.  

Before embarking on the walk, groups gathered in the Presbyterian Church community room. There they enjoyed complimentary donuts and cider, time period appropriate harpsichord music from Kyle Collins of Three Village Chamber Players, an exhibit curated by archivist Karen Martin of photos and other primary source materials about the people who were depicted on the tour and an interactive photo station. The tour ended at the Caroline Church carriage shed, where guests sampled cookies and apple cider. Food and beverages were provided by Ann Marie’s Farm Stand, Stop & Shop East Setauket and Starbucks East Setauket. 

Preparations are already underway for Spirits Cemetery Tour October 2020, which will feature the Spirits of Chicken Hill! If you are interested in volunteering as an actor or in some other capacity for the next tour, please call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Photos by Anthony White and Beverly C. Tyler

 

Since 1987, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport has placed a very large tree in the Mansion Courtyard and decorated it for the holidays. Every year they’ve invited the community to join them on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to light the tree and inaugurate the holiday season. It’s a very popular, free community event that draws several hundred people every year.

For many years, the museum was able to harvest large pines and spruces from the wooded areas of the 43-acre Vanderbilt estate. This fall, the Vanderbilt is looking for a local family that can donate one of its own trees for this year’s celebration. It must be local, from family property and from 20 to 25 feet high. Vanderbilt staff will cut down the tree and transport it to the museum on or about Nov. 20. 

 The Vanderbilt will acknowledge the gift with a sign next to the tree and will publicize the donation to the media, along with other museum holiday events and programs. Contact Jim Munson, the Vanderbilt Museum’s operations supervisor at  jim@vanderbiltmuseum.org for more info.

Falling leaves in hues of red, yellow and purple; hot apple cider; pumpkins in all shapes and sizes; and a brisk chill in the air are sure signs October is here.

October also means the return of the Huntington Arts Council’s annual student exhibit, Nightmare on Main Street, a Halloween-inspired juried art show for Nassau and Suffolk counties students in grades 6 to 12. The 8th annual show runs from Oct. 18 to Nov. 16.

“We celebrate by turning ourselves into whatever and whoever we’d like to be on October 31st. Scary, silly, creepy or beautiful, what would you want to transform yourself into during this time of year?” was the question our juror Stephanie Buscema posed as inspiration. 

Working professionally for the past 15 years on a variety of projects, from publishing to textile design, Buscema is a painter, illustrator and designer in Huntington. Alongside work assignments, she owns a small business, Kitschy Witch Designs, creating whimsical textile prints and designing vintage inspired clothing and accessories. 

Over 110 pieces of artwork were submitted this year, an increase of 34 percent over last year. Of those entries, 48 students were selected as finalists this year including Joseph Apat, Mia Bacchi, Kaia Beatty, Nathaly Benavides, Nia Burke, Connie Choi, Shannon Cooper, Julia Crapanzano, Gilana Etame, Josie Fasolino, Alysse Fazal, Rachel Ferrara, Sophie Fyfe, Julia Giles, Eliza Harnden, Tessa Kang, Margaux Lanfant, Vivienne LaVertu, Fiona Lawrence, Hailey Lepik, Giada LoPorto, Casey Losinski, Jillian Maffei, Margaret Marzigliano, Katrina Mazaras, Vita Mazza, Alena Moreira, Isabella Muoio, Olivia Muscatelli, Allyson Phillips, Taylor Rampulla, Victoria Rodgers, Hannah Ross, Jack Ruthkowski, Andrew Sarchese, Katherine Seon, Holly Sternlicht, Mitchell Stevens, Sophie Talamas, Holly Tilton, Mark Tringali, Natalie Vela, Alexa Villanueva, Lily Walford, Cindy Wang, Addison Westerlind, Jaelin Woracek and Fuxin Zuo.

“Nightmare on Main Street is in its 8th year and continues to receive an incredible response from the student artists who enter the show,” said Executive Director of Huntington Arts Council Marc Courtade. 

“The artwork in the show highlights the diverse use of a variety of mediums including found objects, metal transfer, digital photography, charcoal, acrylic and watercolor paints and collage. We are proud to incorporate shows specifically targeting young talent and the community loves to show its support,” he said. 

The Huntington Arts Council will present Nightmare on Main Street at its Main Street Gallery, 213 Main St., Huntington from Oct. 18 through Nov. 16. In celebration of the exhibit, a costume party reception will be held at the gallery on Friday, Oct. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 631-271-8423 or visit www.huntingtonarts.org.

Forky Crow Scarecrow

TIME TO VOTE!

Once again, it’s time to bring the family down and vote for your favorite spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations adorning the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center in the annual Scarecrow Competition. This year a record number of almost 40 entries were submitted!   

With creations like Where the Wild Things Are, Captain Recyclica, Chef Alfredo Linguini, Lexie the Barista and, in a nod to “Toy Story 4,” Forky Crow, there will be many to choose from. Voting ballots are available in all shops and restaurants in the Village Center.

Winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded at WMHO’s Halloween Festival on Oct. 31 where adults and kids alike come in their festive costumes and enjoy live music with WALK Radio (accompanied by “Walkie Bear”), trick or treating in the shops, games galore, free mini pumpkins (while supplies last) and the Monster Merlin parade.

For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

The Addams Family returns to the big screen in time for Halloween. Image courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

By Jeffrey Sanzel

Charles Addams’ delightfully macabre cartoons of the bizarre Addams band first appeared in The New Yorker in 1938. In the subsequent 50 years, this satirical inversion of the nuclear family was featured in dozens of single-panel drawings. In 1964, the live-action series premiered on ABC and was welcomed into American households for two seasons. This was followed by two animated series as well as several reunion specials. 

The franchise was successfully rebooted in 1991 with The Addams Family and the even better sequel Addams Family Values (1993). In 2008, the family got the full Broadway treatment with a musical that has lived on in regional and high school theaters across the country. The first family of Halloween has been seen in everything from board games to drink coasters.  

Nearly 10 years ago, there was news of a Tim Burton stop-motion Addams family to be produced by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. However, in 2013, MGM acquired the rights and it is this version that has now been produced as a 3-D animated comedy. Conrad Vernon directs a predictable screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Pamela Pettler.  

It is a shame that Burton was not able to realize his vision. Given his work — particularly The Nightmare Before Christmas — the result would most likely have been more satisfying.

The plot focuses on the threat of the family being pushed out of its haunted mansion by a devious T.V. home renovation host, Margaux Needler, who is building a model community, Assimilation. In addition, son Pugsley will be having his Mazurka celebration (think bar mitzvah with swords) and the entire clan is expected to descend upon the family. Daughter Wednesday becomes curious about the outside world and befriends Needler’s daughter, whom she leads into rebellion.  

While these elements could add up to a terrific satire, it never quite transcends its literalness. There is a pedestrian feel to the constantly repeated theme of all-people-just-want-to-be-accepted-for-who-they-are. Visually, it looks closer to the Saturday morning cartoons, and some of the more famous lines are wedged into the dialogue. In the end, there is something flat and uninspired in the result: The film is less Addams family than it is Hotel Transylvania. One has the sense that the creators were hedging their bets and played it safe with a child-centric film, leaving little for the adult audience. While there are nods to the Addams canon, it never feels like it enters that weird, wonderful world.  

There is a wealth of voice talent, with some utilized better than others. Charlize Theron captures Morticia Addams’ low notes with a fittingly languid affectation. Oscar Issac is a nice compliment as the excitable Gomez. The children are well-realized by an appropriately affectless Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard as the pugnacious Pugsley. Nick Kroll makes an amusing if one-note Uncle Fester. Sadly, Bette Midler is not given enough to do as Grandmama. Other voices include Snoop Dogg (Cousin Itt), Martin Short (Grandpa Frump), Catherine O’Hara (Grandma Frump), Tituss Burgess (Margaux’s agent) and Jenifer Lewis (Great Auntie Sloom). Allison Janney makes the most of the villainous Margaux Needler but there’s almost no opportunity for variety.

The highlight of the film comes at the end, when the television show’s opening sequence is recreated, Vic Mizzy theme song and all.

In its own way, the movie is child-friendly creepy and methodically kooky but with little mystery and certainly not spooky. Ultimately, what’s lacking is what makes the Addams family unique: One is left asking, “Where’s the ooky?”

Rated PG, The Addams Family is now playing in local theaters.

Pictured from left, Chris Graf, Michael Bernstein and Gloria Rocchio (holding original sketch of Memorial Rock) and Judy Greiman

In 1946 Ward Melville designated a plot of land on Main Street, right beyond the Stony Brook Village Center, to honor veterans of foreign wars.  

Michael Bernstein, Interim President, Stony Brook University; Judy Greiman, senior VP, government and community relations/chief deputy to the president at Stony Brook University; Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization; and Chris Graf, owner of Stonegate Landscape recently met at the site to review the results of recent efforts to refurbish the area in preparation for Veterans Day.

 The area has been renovated several times over the years and recently needed additional work.  Graf stepped up to take care of this project, gratis, installing another boulder and new plantings, updating the area to the state it was in when first created in 1946. WMHO, along with Stony Brook University, partnered together and paid for an additional plaque as well as a bluestone marker.

Photos from WMHO

*This article has been updated to reflect Michael Bernstein’s new title.

By Heidi Sutton

As one of the country’s most beloved holidays draws near, Theatre Three gets into the act with Halloween treats of its own. While the theater thrills and chills on the Mainstage with “Jekyll & Hyde,” its Children’s Theatre offers “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” the adorable tale of a ghost who is afraid of the dark. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, the musical, which runs through Oct. 26, is the perfect way to kick off the spookiest of seasons.

A friendly ghost named Abner Perkins (played by Steven Uihlein) has just graduated from Haunting High School. With a diploma and a medallion of invisibility in hand, his first assignment is to become the spooksperson for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, famously known the world over for being the most haunted house in Harrison County U.S.A. and for serving the best toast. There are only two rules he has to follow — he can only haunt at night and he can’t lose the medallion or he’ll be seen by the living.

Abner confides to his best friend Lavinda the witch (Michelle LaBozzetta) that he has an uncontrollable fear of the dark and, after a bit of teasing (“That’s like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!”), she gifts him a night-light and promises to assist him with his haunting duties for the first few weeks. When they arrive at the boarding house, they find Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, and her guests in the kitchen stuffing treat bags for Halloween.

We meet Kit Garret (Nicole Bianco) who “just came from a small town to a big city with a suitcase in my hand and hope in my heart” and can’t wait to try Ma Aberdeen’s famous toast. We also meet the Petersons — Paul the periodontist (Andrew Lenahan), his wife Penelope (Krystal Lawless) and their son Pip (Eric J. Hughes) — who have the most curious habit of using words that start with the letter P in every sentence.

When Pip puts on a pumpkin pullover and proceeds to tell pumpkin jokes (see what I did there?), Abner casts a speed spell on the group, making them spin like a top, do jumping jacks and walk like a duck in double time, and then, straight out of a scene from “The Golden Goose,” has them stick to each other “like birds of a feather.”

Just as he is about to undo the spell, fellow graduate and ghost with a grudge Dora Pike (Beth Ladd) shows up and steals Abner’s night-light and medallion of invisibility and hides them in Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world. Now visible, Abner has to convince the boarders, who are still stuck to each other in “an unprecedented predicament,” to help him and Lavinda get his property back. What follows is a hilarious adventure that highlights the power of honesty, determination and friendship.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the eight-member adult cast embraces the brilliant script and presents a hauntingly fun afternoon both children and parents will love. Accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock with choreography by Nicole Bianco, the song and dance numbers are fun and catchy with special mention to the rap “A Need for Speed” by Abner and Lavinda and the group number, “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast.” Costumes by Teresa Matteson and Toni St. John are spot on, from the Peterson’s black and orange outfits to the spooky white garbs for the ghosts. And wait until you see the special effects!

Souvenir cat, pumpkin, vampire and ghost dolls will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission for $5. Meet the cast in the lobby for photos on your way out.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” on Oct. 12, 19 and 26 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with one intermission, and Halloween costumes are encouraged. Children’s theater continues with “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 23 to Dec. 28. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Middle Country Public Library in Centereach hosted the 19th annual Women’s EXPO on Oct. 3. Thousands came out to kick off their holiday shopping at the one-day event presented by the Middle Country Library Foundation and the library’s Miller Business Center.

More than 80 women entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to introduce their products, which included jewelry, children’s books, soaps, candles, chocolate, fall crafts, clothing and much more. Fifth Season restaurant offered lunch in the EXPO Café. 

This year’s lead sponsor was Bank of America. The event was also sponsored by Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP of Ronkonkoma; People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union; BankUnited; TD Bank; Jefferson’s Ferry; and the Greater Middle Country Chamber of Commerce. Vendors interested in participating in next year’s event are encouraged to visit www.womensExpoli.org. See more photos of the event at www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

Christmas came early for many little girls and boys as two members of the Radio City Rockettes, Mindy Moeller (left) and Taylor Shimko, stopped by the Smithtown Library’s Main Branch on Sept. 25 to meet their fans and take part in a kids craft program.

Each child took an instant photo with the Rockettes that was placed in a keepsake snow globe. The globe was then decorated with stickers.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim presented the two dancers with a proclamation thanking them for their time and “the joyful memories made today with the children and families of Smithtown.”

The day was especially meaningful for the supervisor’s 6-year-old granddaughter Danica (in the pink ballet outfit) who loves to watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show and aspires to become a Rockette when she grows up.

Women pose at Village Chabad’s Mega Challah Bake last Sunday night in preparation for Rosh Hashana. Close to 100 women attended with over 200 pounds of flour, 200 eggs and 1,600 ounces of water used in the process. Photo by Peggy Gallery

By Rabbi Motti Grossbaum

Imagine you were given an opportunity to travel the entire world, every continent, every country at no cost. But there would be one condition; you would have to do it blindfolded. You can trek from Hawaii to the Swiss Alps, from the Amazon to Jerusalem, but it will all have to be done without you seeing any of it.

It’s a frustrating idea. Here you are going from place to place but to you, it all seems the same. The truth is, this dilemma does not just exist in the realm of space, it also exists in the realm of time.

Women pose at Village Chabad’s Mega Challah Bake last Sunday night in preparation for Rosh Hashana. Photo by Peggy Gallery

The Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches us that just as every place has its own unique energy and purpose, which is why traveling is always filled with newness and adventure, every point in time has its own exclusive character and rhythm.

This week, this day, this very moment will never happen again; there will be many more moments to come, but none will be like this. One can go through life, day after day blindfolded, like listening to the same song on repeat. Or one can take off their blindfold, look at each day and recognize that the challenges and triumphs that are unfolding before them are unique. They have their own flavor and will never happen this exact way again.

This is what’s so significant about Rosh Hashana and the celebration of the Jewish New Year. During this holiday, the energy that will define the entire year ahead, the context in which everything will be achieved, enters into our world for the very first time.

Furthermore, the Kabbalah teaches, not only is this a new energy, each year it is an even greater energy than the year past. The potential and destiny that is waiting to be unlocked during this coming year is something the world has never seen.

All this happens with the blast of the shofar. The sound of the shofar is the sound of us piercing heaven and drawing down a year that is unlike any that’s ever been before. Its unique tone beacons us to take off our blindfold and witness the transition into a brand new year.

This year, we are given the opportunity to go on a magical journey of time to experience moments that are filled with fresh and untapped beauty. The choice is ours; we can slide right into the New Year blindfolded, completely unaware of the fact that we just entered into an entirely new dimension, or we can go hear the shofar and blow the blindfold off. We can open our hearts and pray for a year of health, redemption, prosperity and happy adventures!

Author Rabbi Motti Grossbaum serves at Village Chabad–Center for Jewish Life & Learning at 360 Nicolls Road in E. Setauket. For more information about High Holiday services and other programs and activities throughout the year, visit www.MyVillageChabad.com or call 631-585-0521.