Holidays

A Valentine’s Day treat

Harbormen Chorus’s Antiquity Quartet, Fred, Dave, Gary and Vic, visited the Times Beacon Record News Media’s home office in Setauket on Feb. 14 to serenade the staff for Valentine’s Day. The group sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Don’t Be a Baby, Baby” and “Love Me Tender” to a group of adoring fans.

Video by Rita J. Egan

 

By Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven held its annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve on Saturday, Feb. 2. Many families with young children braved the frigid weather to hear a very important prediction from Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman, Holtsville Hal, and the little guy did not disappoint.

At 7:25 a.m., before a crowd of several hundred spectators, the groundhog awoke from his slumber and did not see his shadow, joining Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, Malverne Mel, Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave in predicting that spring weather is right around the corner.

Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), who was joined by Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point), served as honorary Mayor of the Day and read Hal’s prognostication:

“Upon waking up this morning from my long winter’s nap, I heard Honey Bear yawning after this unusual cold snap, Lucy the Buffalo was up, Victoria the eagle too, wondering what everyone is planning to do. I exited my burrow and took a step out, realizing that my prognostication is what this is all about. Hundreds have gathered waiting to hear, will it be an early spring or more snow this year. I know you’re all anxious to hear what I have to say, I won’t keep you waiting at 7:25 on this cold blustery day. When I came out of my burrow and put my paws on the floor, I did not see the shadow I was looking for. According to folklore, go home and ready your lawn, spring is coming and the winter is more than half gone.”

Superintendent of Highways Daniel Losquadro (R), who was not able to attend the event this year, issued a statement on Monday.  “I’m sure we are all looking forward to an early spring and keeping our fingers crossed that our resident weatherman maintains his accuracy,” he said. “Regardless, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to send our way.”

After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels and hot chocolate and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks and its newest addition, a pine martin. The center, which is open all year round, also includes jogging and exercise trails.

Greg Drossel, who has been Holtsville Hal’s handler for 22 years, said, “I remember when this ecology site was started by Harold Malkmes [Brookhaven’s longtime superintendent], 25, 30 years ago with a pair of buffalo and a pair of bald eagles and now it’s a gem in the Town of Brookhaven and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville, the Ecology Site will next host the 2019 Home & Garden Show on March 23, 24, 30 and 31 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

The Harbormen Chorus again this year will send out quartets of handsomely dressed gentlemen to entertain loved ones for Valentine’s Day. In their long-standing tradition, they offer the finest, unique and most memorable gift — The Gift of Song! The quartets sing anywhere in Suffolk County: in offices, homes, restaurants, even bowling alleys and mechanic’s shops!

For information and to book a visit for only $75 (includes two love songs along with a box of chocolates, flower and personalized card), call 631-644-0129. The Harbormen Chorus is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and regularly supports the Good Shepherd Hospice at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with donations and song.

Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Looking for a romantic way to enjoy Valentine’s Day? Come to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport and spend an evening with your Valentine at Eagle’s Nest, the Spanish Revival mansion of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt on a hilltop above Northport Bay.

Your evening begins with music, passed hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing, amid Vanderbilt’s exotic collections. Embark on a guided tour of the mansion through the family’s private living quarters decorated for Valentine’s Day. See rooms celebrating the romances of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, Romeo and Juliet, Napoleon and Josephine and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and hear about the legend of St. Valentine. 

Tours, which will be held on Feb. 14 and 15, begin at regular intervals from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person, $35 members. To order, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Valentine’s Day at the Vanderbilt mansion. Photo by Maryann Zakshevsky/Vanderbilt

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to make plans for that special day. Why not treat your Valentine to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at Eagle’s Nest, the elegant Vanderbilt mansion where Hollywood stars and European royalty dined with one of America’s most famous and powerful families?

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will hold its annual Valentine’s Day dinner (a major fundraiser for education programs) with limited seatings of 50 at 6 and at 8 p.m.

The grand, 24-room Spanish Revival mansion on Northport Bay — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is one of the most glamorous and romantic settings on Long Island.

Many rooms in the mansion will be decorated with Valentine themes, including the romances of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, Romeo and Juliet and Napoleon and Josephine. Others feature the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (frequent mansion guests) and their beloved pugs, the legend of St. Valentine and Valentine cards and candy.

The evening is a rare opportunity to enjoy an intimate dining experience with a spouse, partner or special friend and to celebrate in Gold Coast style.

“Many people have used the storybook atmosphere of the Vanderbilt mansion as a romantic backdrop for first dates. Several people tell us they proposed marriage here. And each year many couples come to the Vanderbilt for their wedding ceremonies. This is a perfect place for a romantic dinner,” said Lance Reinheimer, the museum’s executive director.

As a guest, your evening will begin with passed hors d’oeuvres, prosecco, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing of the mansion, amid Vanderbilt’s exotic collections of ethnographic artifacts from Africa, Asia and South America.

After a brief tour through his private living quarters, you will dine in the Northport Dining Room Porch, where the Vanderbilts enjoyed leisurely dinners with their family and friends.

Dinner will be a choice of prime rib, balsamic glazed chicken stuffed with goat cheese, heart-shaped ravioli a la vodka or salmon stuffed with crabmeat. Viennese desserts follow in the Lancaster Room, with a side trip to the Vanderbilt Library and the Moroccan Court.

Tickets are $150 per person, $135 for members, by reservation only. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

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When the calm of the cold settles on visitors to the Village of Port Jefferson, all find reason to seek comfort indoors. Despite it, the village is illuminated in swathes of light all the way from West Broadway to East Broadway, down East Main Street and up Main Street. Here is just a selection of pictures displaying the serenity of the cold night, when the lights dance in the street and in the eyes of people behind the window panes of Port Jeff.

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We, the taxpayers of Suffolk County, believe that as a whole we’ve been pretty good in 2018. Many of us have been busy working long hours, sometimes in multiple jobs, to make ends meet and provide for our families given the high cost of living on the Island. Suffolk police report violent crime and hate crimes are down — we’ve been doing our best to behave. 

This holiday season we’re asking you, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), to double, no, triple check the list we know you’ve been diligently drafting up in Albany as to who’s been naughty or nice. We understand that you have nearly 20 million residents to look out for, but we have a holiday wish list we’d like you to consider before announcing your budget for the 2020 fiscal year: 

● Increase state aid to our public schools. School taxes make up the largest portion of our property tax bills. President Donald Trump’s (R) Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is about to hit this April, which limits homeowners to a $10,000 deduction of their state and local property, income and sales taxes. By increasing school funding, it will hopefully help keep future school budget increases low. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. File photo by Erika Karp

● Consider proposals to reconfigure Long Island Power
Authority. Long Islanders pay among the highest rates in the Northeast for their electricity; and any reorganizational measures or changes that could bring relief would bring financial relief. 

● In the alternative, push through legislation that would
allow municipalities and school districts who lose a tax base from utilities, such as LIPA, to access reserved state funds to
offset the impact on Suffolk taxpayers. 

● Provide more state funding and grants for alternative
energy. Our environment is sensitive from being on an island, and increasing our renewable energy resources would help
ensure clean water to drink, safe land to live on and, hopefully, lower costs of producing electricity. 

● Lay out state funding for sewers on Long Island. Many of our downtown areas are hurting financially, as business districts are struggling to consider growth without sewers. In addition, providing grants to help homeowners with the costs of transitioning from old-fashioned cesspools to modern systems should improve the area’s water quality.

● Set aside more money to repave and reconfigure our heavily traveled state roadways, such as Route 25 and 25A. Driving along these congested roadways brings several perils, including large potholes, inadequate street lighting and sections that flood in heavy rainstorms. Funds could be used to re-engineer troublesome spots that repeatedly cause accidents and repave sections that are in disrepair. 

In addition, we understand that you have plenty of elves, your fellow elected officials, who can help enact changes and allocate funds to help make the rest of our holiday wishes come true: 

● Start construction on the Rails to Trails project from Wading River through Mount Sinai. The project is much anticipated, but some funding and consideration must be made for neighboring property owners who want privacy of their homes and yards. 

Sure, we have quite the holiday wish list this year. But we hope you can see the gifts we’re asking for will benefit all.

Taking a  break from the ice, New York Islander players Anthony Beauvillier, pictured above, and Tom Kuhnkackl visited pediatric patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and Cancer Center on Dec. 13. The two athletes came bearing toys and gifts, signed autographs and posed for photos with some of their smallest fans. The event, which was organized by Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s Child Life and the Islanders, helped to add some extra cheer to children who are ill, especially those with chronic conditions who may be spending their holidays at the hospital.

New York Island players Anthony Beauvillier and Tom Kuhnkackl visited pediatric patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and Cancer Center.

Have a holly, jolly Christmas — that was the sentiments and sounds of local Brownie Troop 1781 as members strolled units at St. Catherine of Siena’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center in Smithtown on Dec. 7. 

Adorned with Santa hats, the Brownies sang holiday favorites while they delivered gifts to the residents that they compiled and curated with the seniors in mind. The bags were filled with crossword puzzles and other engaging activities for the residents to do this holiday season.

“It was so nice to have the girls here, they were so festive and brought joy to our long-term and short-term residents,” said Director of Therapeutic Recreation Mary Sue Schulz. “It was a pleasure to have them, and we hope to have them again next year.”

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The Christmas season is upon us. The village of Port Jefferson is decked out with lights and wreaths — there is definitely a spirit of Christmas in the air. 

The world is a crazy place. The violence and hate has become infectious, but the reason for the season has taken a hold of us once again in a number of places. People are reaching out and bridging differences. 

One such instance is Christmas Magic, an event that magically touches hearts old and young alike with the spirit of giving, sharing and serving others. Started more than 25 years ago by a young attorney who wanted his children to understand the real meaning of Christmas, his act of kindness and generosity has touched thousands of people across our county every Christmas season. 

Hundreds of caring high school students to college students, from youth programs and church communities sacrifice their time and reach out to thousands of children living in our shelters during the holiday season.

Close to 3,000 people gathered at Carnegie Hall on the second Monday in December this year for a Christmas concert. The headliners were powerful: Andy Cooney and his band, the Hibernian Festival Singers, the Irish Tenors, the New York Tenors and eight young men who have become a band of brothers supported by an extraordinary female voice that makes the H.I.M.S. and Her such an extraordinary musical talent.

This band of brothers are young men who are broken and wounded, from all over, trying to reclaim their lives while living in a long-term nontraditional treatment program for addictions. The story of these men is a story of powerful change and transformation. Their performance at Carnegie Hall brought that packed house of concertgoers to their feet. It was a night of inspiration to remember.

A few days before their performance at Carnegie Hall these gifted and talented men volunteered to sing Christmas carols at the retirement home for the Dominican Sisters at their motherhouse in Amityville. I started to visit these sisters every Advent because I’m a product of Dominican education. In my junior high school years, I was profoundly influenced by three very dynamic women of faith. This has been my simple way of saying thank you.

After serving the church in a variety of leadership roles for more than 50 years, my former eighth-grade teacher took a job at Pax Christi, an emergency men’s shelter in Port Jefferson. She began working five days a week until she was 85 years old cleaning toilets, making beds and bringing hope to countless men who thought their lives were hopeless.

Today Sr. Beata is in her mid-90s. She is still as sharp as can be but has a difficult time getting around. The sisters she lives with range in age from their mid-70s to 107 years old. 

After caroling that Saturday morning, the young men walked among these extraordinary women hugging and kissing them; the room was aglow. The sister who is 107 years old came over to me to thank me for bringing these young men. She said it was her greatest Christmas present. All her family has died and her friends as well. She has no visitors. After one of the young men hugged her she started to cry. She hadn’t been hugged in over a year and she said thank you for helping her feel alive again.

As we drove home, these men on the road to recovery and wellness were on fire — not realizing how in their brokenness with their simple carols they brought so much joy to a community of women who were such a source of hope and light for so many generations.

Christmas seems to be that time of year to remind each other of the profound goodness that lives within each of us and to be conscious that each one of us has the power to make a difference that really does count.

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.