Holidays

The winners of Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s annual Scarecrow Competition were announced at its 27th annual Halloween Festival on Oct. 31. Over 30 scarecrows were displayed throughout the Stony Brook Village Center during the month of October as visitors voted for their favorites.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Category A – Previous 1st Prize Winners & Professionals

1st place – “Mirror Mirror” by Barbara DeStefano GS Troop 405

2nd place – “The Courageous Lady in Pink” by Linda Hubner

Category B – Adults/Families

1st place – “Cheshire Cat” by Natasha Bartley

2nd place – “Au Pair Annie & Kids” by Cindy Garruba

3rd place – “Old Mother Goose” by Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Category C – Children (under 12)

1st place – “Poppy Troll” by Beth Siar of Brownie Troop 873

2nd place – “Pinkalicious” by Lauren McGowan of St. Patrick’s Daisy Troop 2165

3rd place – “Captain Underpants” by Beth Siar of GS Junior Troop 3083

Sponsors Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy; Samuel R. Taube R.C.S.W.; Sharon Doyle, MS, RN, CS, NPP; J. Robert Quilty, PhD, P.C.; and the Roseland School of Dance helped to make the event possible.

A scene from 'Dracula' 1931

By Kevin Redding

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t enamored with Halloween and, by default, horror in general. It could be argued that my birthday falling in late October has something to do with an obsession with the macabre, but I can’t help but think it goes way beyond that.

When I was very young, I became infatuated with a couple important things — one, the work of Tim Burton (specifically “Batman” and “Beetlejuice”), so much so that the only guaranteed remedy to silence this curly-haired toddler’s wails was putting one of his movies in the VCR. I’d sniffle my last cry and watch with attentive giddiness at the Gothic sets, whimsical dark humor and cast of weird characters. The other early influence in my life was Charles Addams — the longtime Westhampton Beach resident, renowned cartoonist for The New Yorker and, most importantly, creator of “The Addams Family.”

Around age 4 or 5, one of my uncles gifted me with a large book called “The World of Charles Addams,” a sprawling tome that contained hundreds of pages of the cartoonist’s famously humorous, creepy artwork and comic strips centered around the grotesque, the misfitted, the spooky, and altogether ooky.

For years my eyes were glued to that book, and I have just about memorized each and every one of its black-and-white and full-cover drawings at this point. It was the first time I remember being truly swept up by art and storytelling — his spooky settings, characters and sensibilities captured my imagination like nothing else before — and it inspired me to put pen to paper and create my own characters and stories, tapping into an artistic, creative side that has followed me into my mid-20s.

The Burton films and “The Addams Family” movies I devoured at this time served as great gateways to the more hard-core horror titles I discovered a few years later. One summer, as I was relaxing before the big move to fourth grade, my cousins and I, joined by my aunt and uncle, gathered around the TV in their living room and watched the original “House on Haunted Hill,” that hokey and wonderful Vincent Price classic.

It would be the start of a weekend tradition, dubbed Saturday Scary Movie Night, wherein we watched scary movies from a bygone era, namely the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Up until this point, I don’t think I was really exposed to old horror (I loved all the classic monsters but really only knew them as toys, lunch boxes and cartoons … I didn’t exactly know where they came from).

A scene from ‘Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’

I remember watching “Frankenstein,” “The Wolfman,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” “Nosferatu,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “The Birds.” I loved them all, and they gave me a real appreciation and adoration of old movies and the art of filmmaking in general. After these viewings, I always seemed to go to sleep unscathed, at least until we watched “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi, which haunted me and led to my first and only sleepwalking escapade. I was scared by it, but also mesmerized by it. From then on, I was hooked. If a movie was scary or had monsters in it, I had to watch it.

And horror is what really got me interested in reading. Entranced by the freaky covers of “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine, I consumed any of those books available to me, either from the school or public library. As I got a little bit older, I gravitated toward Stephen King, whose books I ate up — especially “The Dead Zone,” “Firestarter” and “Four Past Midnight” — and served as incredible textbooks on how to craft tension, drama and likeable fictional characters. It would be his memoir/advice manual for budding writers, “On Writing,” that sealed the deal for me for what I wanted to do with my life.

So, naturally, Halloween has always meant so much to me. I mean, as a kid, I already walked around in a vampire’s cape and that was in the middle of April, so to have an entire day/month wherein that fashion choice is socially acceptable and encouraged? Sign me up.

Me as Fester

As a kid, I was definitely an oddball and not exactly brimming with confidence. I didn’t have a torturous childhood, but I was certainly on the outskirts of my peers. In the first grade, I had curly hair and I was missing my front teeth, which paved the way for lots of jokes. I was also quiet and painfully shy and never quite knew what to talk about with others, and so, I looked to fictional characters like the Addams family for an escape. I even went as Uncle Fester for Halloween one year, in a really great handmade costume (Thanks mom!), complete with light bulb in mouth. It was a beautiful thing, and I point to horror as being what helped me come out of my shell and feel okay with who I was. For those of us who have ever wanted to hide or escape or be someone else for a day, Halloween is the day that encourages that.

It’s the one day a year when the weird, creative and imaginative parts of ourselves can be unleashed without any hesitation; it’s a celebration of human fear, of community and the art of pretending. And seriously, in this world we’re living in, couldn’t we all use a day of pretending?

Sadie L.

Thanks to all the children who entered Times Beacon Record News Media’s annual Halloween contest and for helping to make it so successful! This year we had 27 entries, one more spooky than the next, making it tough for our three judges, editors Alex Petroski and Sara-Megan Walsh and our star reporter Kevin Redding, to choose the top four. Congratulations to Sadie L. of Port Jefferson, Paige E. of Huntington, Bradley S. of Mount Sinai and Sara K. of Stony Brook for being this year’s winners and receiving a family-four pack of theater tickets to “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” courtesy of Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Happy Halloween!

Rick Moranis and Audrey II in a scene from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Just in time for Halloween, “Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut” will return to select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 31, courtesy of Fathom Events and Warner Bros. Written by the Oscar-winning team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, it will also include a brand-new, exclusive interview with director Frank Oz.

Business is bad at Mushnick’s Flower shop. Shy Seymour and brave Audrey will soon be unemployed. That is until Seymour pricks his finger and a sickly little exotic plant gets its first taste of human blood. The plant spurts 10 feet tall. As horticultural interest in “Audrey II” sprouts, Mushnick’s business takes off. But fresh blood must be found — and people start disappearing. Love and business bloom at a hilarious yet bloody cost.

Starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin and Vincent Gardenia in the leading roles with Levi Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II, the 1986 American rock musical horror comedy film will feature the rarely seen original ending.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 (Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 at 2 and 7 p.m.); Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas (at 7 p.m. both days); and Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville (at 7 p.m. both days). To purchase your ticket in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

Above, the cast of ‘A Kooky, Spooky Halloween’ at Theatre Three.

By Heidi Sutton

There’s something kooky going on at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. As a matter of fact, there’s something spooky going on there as well. In perfect timing with the upcoming holiday, the Children’s Theatre presents a brand new musical treat, “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” through Oct. 28.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, the adorable show emphasizes the importance of telling the truth and helping others. Skillfully directed by Sanzel, the talented cast of eight adults embraces the brilliant script and, with plenty of audience interaction, presents a wonderful afternoon of live theater.

The cast sings ‘It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast’

Ghost Abner Perkins (Dylan Robert Poulos) has just graduated from Haunted High School and awarded a medallion of invisibility. His first assignment is to be the spooksperson on Halloween for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, “the most haunted house in Harrison County, USA,” which is also known for serving the best toast. There’s only one problem — Abner is afraid of the dark. “It’s like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!” quips his friend Lavinda (Jessica Contino), a good natured witch, before presenting him with a night-light to wear on his hat. Lavinda promises to help Abner with his haunting duties for the first few days.

When they arrive at the boarding house, they come upon Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, and her boarders, Kit Garret (Meg Bush) and the Petersons — Paul the periodontist (Steven Uihlein), his wife Penelope (Nina Moran) and their son Pip (Eric J. Hughes), whose alliterations using words that start with the letter P are perfectly prodigious!

As the sun sets, Abner plays silly tricks on the unsuspecting group, making them stuff Halloween goodie bags in double time, exercise, sing, dance and get stuck to each other. Things are going hauntingly well until fellow graduate Dora Pike (Elizabeth Ladd) shows up. A ghost with a grudge (she was hoping to be assigned to Ma Aberdeen’s boarding house), Dora steals Abner’s night-light and medallion out of revenge and makes her way to Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark).

Dylan Robert Poulos and Jessica Contino star as Abner and Lavinda in the show.

Now visible, Abner convinces the boarders, who are still stuck to each other, to accompany him and Lavinda on a quest to retrieve his property. Will Abner be able to overcome his fear of the dark? Will the two ghosts be able to reach a compromise?

From the first number, “A-Haunting We Will Go” by the entire company, to the downright creepy “It Will All Fade to Black” by Dora, and the catchy “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast,” the original songs by Steve McCoy are the heart of the show. Utilizing the set from the current Mainstage production, “The Bridges of Madison County,” the show features excellent choreography by Nicole Bianco. Ditto the costumes by Teresa Matteson.

“A Kooky Spooky Halloween” is the perfect show to get into the spirit of Halloween and a wonderful way to spend a fall afternoon. But be forewarned — for some strange reason, you’ll exit the theater having a craving for toast! 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. 14, 21 and 28 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. with a sensory-sensitive performance on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with one intermission, and Halloween costumes are encouraged.

Children’s Theatre will continue with everyone’s holiday favorite, “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 and “Rapunzel — The Untold Story” from Jan. 20 to Feb. 24. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Thousands flocked to the annual Long Island Fall Festival, hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Town of Huntington, in Heckscher Park from Oct. 6 to 9. The event was lively Saturday as unseasonably warm weather brought attendees out to enjoy a variety of live performances, street vendors, carnival rides and games. Rainy weather thinned the crowd later in the weekend, but did not stop the festivities.

The Middle Country Public Library will once again host the Women's EXPO on Oct. 5. File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Kevin Redding

There’s an unattributable quote out there that says, “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women that have her back.” It wouldn’t be surprising to learn its source was referring to a certain annual event at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, for the 17th year in a row, the library will host a diverse group of women entrepreneurs — from artists to chefs to designers to craftspeople and beyond — during its Women’s EXPO, a one-day event where they can all network with colleagues, showcase and sell their work at the library and spread the word about their products.

“The expo’s really always been about seeing a group of women supporting women,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of Adult Services and the Miller Business Resource Center. “Our planning committee is made up of professional women. We select exhibitors who are women looking to grow their businesses and make new connections. Before and after the exhibit, we try and facilitate those connections.”

Malafi said shoppers this year should expect a total of 82 vendors, roughly 25 of whom will be brand new to the EXPO. And whereas last year, somewhere around 2,300 people squeezed into the library, this year’s goal is to break 2,500.

“It’s going to be a nice balance of women that people come to see every year and also newbies,” she said. “That way the new people can be guided by the people that have been here for a while and those who have been here awhile get a nice, new perspective of somebody who might be starting out.”

Malafi continued, “I think ultimately people should come out to support women entrepreneurs and the economic engine of Long Island. We need to keep our money local so we’re supporting where we live. This is a great opportunity to do that while also shopping for the holidays.” Meet some of the vendors at this year’s EXPO:

Maria Castilla

Maria Castilla

Coram’s Maria Castilla has come a long way since making clothes for her Barbie dolls when she was young. Now, as owner of ImuGifts, her home-based business, Castilla designs unique handmade bags, jewelry and sewn accessories, none of which are remade, her website boasts.

“I love getting to make something spectacular and super unique for someone that nobody else is going to have,” Castilla said. “Sometimes you buy something at Target or a retail store and it’s not made in America or not made by your neighbors. This is something special I want to share with the community.”

Castilla was raised in Bogota, Columbia, and came to the United States when she was 10 years old and, although she always had a love for art, she followed in her father’s footsteps by studying hotel management and tourism in college. After several years in that industry, she said, she felt burnt out and was in need of a creative outlet. She began to make her own products, like soap, and then taught herself to sew through YouTube videos around 2013. Channeling her childhood hobby of making jewelry, she delved into organic handmade beadwork, and soon a business was born.

“I work full-time so this business is mostly during off hours and weekends,” said Castilla, who works for a nonprofit helping mentally disabled people function in the community. “It’s awesome to have the opportunity to have the flexibility to work 9 to 5 and then come home and do what I love to do. And my husband is amazingly supportive and helps me do pretty much everything.”

Of the EXPO, Castilla said, “It’s the most awesome thing ever … it’s nice to know there’s something like this on Long Island geared toward women empowerment and creativity.” Visit her website at www.imugifts.com.

Suzette Montalvo

Suzette Montalvo in front of her Puerto Rican food truck

Suzette Montalvo, the owner and chef of a booming Bay Shore-based Puerto Rican cuisine food truck called ANEWYORICANTHING LTD., took a giant leap of faith in 2015 by quitting her office job to pursue her dream full time. And it’s paying off. Montalvo, who was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Queens, was always surrounded by her mother’s traditional Puerto Rican cooking and soon honed her own skills in the kitchen, eventually selling heritage-style seasonings and drinks at farmers markets in 2012.

After 20 years as a purchasing agent at a building supply company, Montalvo, at 50 years old, decided enough was enough. “I hated my job and I was always trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said with a laugh. “So I took a chance on my dream. I bought a food truck and just focused on making this a business I could live off of. I know I’ve made a good decision.”

Suzette Montalvo

Montalvo even recently appeared as one of four competitors on a food truck-oriented episode of the Food Network’s “Chopped.” Although she wound up on the chopping block, Montalvo said the experience was worthwhile. “It was such a huge opportunity,” she said. “I could never have imagined that’s where I would’ve ended up. It’s all really bizarre to me how everything’s been coming about.”

Among the many delicacies Montalvo and her staff of family members — her husband and three children — serve up to the hungry public are tripleta sandwiches, rice and chicken, empanadas, yucca and coquito, “the Puerto Rican eggnog.”

“I love feeding people, it makes me happy,” Montalvo said. “People are loving what I’m bringing to the table here. And Puerto Rican food trucks on Long Island — there are no others.” For more information, visit www.anewyoricanthing.com.

Deborah Urbinati

Deborah Urbinati at her restaurant, The Fifth Season

No matter what state a restaurant’s in, there’s a good chance that Deborah Urbinati, the owner of The Fifth Season restaurant in Port Jefferson, has worked there at some point. She grew up in Lake Grove and got her first restaurant job at Red Lobster in Stony Brook when she was 18 and, soon after, became a server at Red Robin when it was still in the Smith Haven Mall.

“It really helped with my future career because I was taught in a really good way how to be efficient and work with a team,” Urbinati said of the early gig.

She eventually moved to Colorado in 1994, where she worked in restaurants and served as a bartender, was promoted to management, coordinated schedules and bounced between a number of eateries. In Maui, Hawaii, she worked at the Hard Rock Cafe and then was a bar manager in Cannon Beach, Oregon, where she met her husband, the chef at The Fifth Season.

“I’ve just picked up a lot of knowledge through my travels and now I’m able to bring it here and do what we do at the Fifth Season and it’s really cool,” she said, describing the Fifth Season’s menu as “contemporary food with American ingredients.” She runs the front of the house, which includes everything from answering the phone to organizing private events to keeping inventory of the alcohols and overall making sure the flow of service stays up to her standards.

“I’m the conductor,” she said. “I’m really good at what I do because I love what I do. I don’t ever walk into the restaurant thinking, ‘Oh my god, I own this.’ I walk into the restaurant and say, ‘Oh yeah, this is where I am and this is where I’m supposed to be.’” Visit www.thefifth-season.com.

Loretta Giuliani

Loretta Giuliani with some of the signs she makes from home.

Northport resident Loretta Giuliani once carried a badge; now she carries wooden signs. After retiring as a New York City police detective with 20 years under her belt, Giuliani rekindled her artistic roots with Just 4 You, a small, home-based business launched last year wherein she builds, sands and paints custom wooden signs, each decorated with beautiful art or quotes.

“The signs vary in different styles,” Giuliani said, specifying that some are large, others are small, and sometimes she repurposes old kitchen cabinet doors for them. “I try to recycle wood into all different kinds. I’ve also recently starting going to people’s homes and hosting parties, teaching them how to paint and helping them choose designs and create their own signs.” She also said she often builds custom pieces for weddings and baby showers. “It’s a wide gamut of everything. Anything goes.”

Giuliani grew up in Brooklyn and said she was inspired artistically by everything around her, from graffiti in the subway to exhibits in museums, but most of all by her older brother, a fellow artist.

“Art was just always around me growing up,” she said. “It was always a big interest for me.” That interest eventually landed her in New York Institute of Technology as a graphic arts major. She said a friend of hers urged her to take the police exam to gauge how she did and, after she passed it, she wound up taking the job.

While Giuliani said being on the police force was a good job, she’s happy to be exploring her creative side again. “I love meeting and speaking with the different people, getting a feel for what they want, and seeing their face when they see the finished product,” she said. For more information on Giuliani’s signs, visit www.facebook.com/just4youbyloretta.

Admission to the 17th annual Women’s EXPO, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is free. Lunch will be served in the EXPO cafe, catered by Fifth Season Restaurant of Port Jefferson. The library is located at 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach. For a complete list of vendors, visit www.womensEXPOli.org. For more information call 631-585-9393, ext. 296.

All photos courtesy of MCPL

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. Sponsored by The Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy, Samuel R. Taube, Sharon Doyle, J. Robert Quilty and Roseland School of Dance, this will be the 27th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.

As in the past, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all scarecrows decorated with a majority of pink will receive 50 bonus points toward the competition. Official entry forms are available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main Street, second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Categories are divided into Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 29 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will receive cash prizes awarded at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival, beginning at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31. Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Photo by Bob Savage

Hear ye! Hear ye! Casting of “street characters” for the 22nd annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival on Dec. 2 and 3 is currently underway. Adults, teens and children are needed for scripted scenes and improv as well as some singing and dancing. No experience necessary. Participants have the option of joining for a portion of the festival weekend or for the long haul for the rehearsals and scenes. An informational meetings will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Village Center’s Skipjack Room, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson. For more information, email Karen at GPJACtheater@gmail.com.

Dear Readers,

Curious to find out how the North Shore community spent the Fourth of July, TBR News Media’s star reporter, Kevin Redding, took to the streets of Port Jefferson to interview local residents before the holiday. Here are some of their responses:

Jackie and Chris Buzaid, Lake Grove

Jackie: We usually go to my grandma’s in the Jersey Shore and watch fireworks and have a big cookout, stuff like that. We go to the beach, have barbecues, do sparklers.

Chris: I just like spending time with my extended family and seeing them, because we don’t usually see them that much over the years and it’s always nice seeing them and spending time together in the summer.

Devon Buckley, Poquott:  All of my friends … around six or seven of us … are gonna go on my family’s sailboat and go out to Pirate’s Cove, the first cove right at the mouth of the entrance of Port, on the night of 4th of July to see some fireworks. It’s usually a leisurely day, [but] we kind of do that every year. We just hang out, we’ll have a grill onboard, grill some food, go swimming. [Fourth of July] has always been a family and friends ordeal every year.

Pat Morelli, Setauket: I’m actually going up to New Hampshire for my brother’s wedding. It’s not on the 4th of July, but it’s going to be a long weekend type of thing with the whole family. Usually the family that’s here on the Island, we try to get together every 4th of July. It’s a nice, summer holiday where we get to remember how great this country is and hang out with each other.

Avery Looney and Michael Famiano, Port Jefferson Station:

Avery: We’re going to a pool party.

Michael: There’s gonna be barbecue, a fire pit, some fireworks. It’s just partying, [red, white, and blue] themed.

Jenna and Jeannette Cleary, Coram

Jeannette: Well, on the 2nd, we have a big family reunion. And then on 4th of July, we have Grandma’s birthday party first and then to my sister, who’s been having an annual party at her house in Manorville forever. We’ll be busy. My brother’s here this weekend from Hawaii and he plays games and is like the event coordinator. He’s bringing fireworks from out of state, there’s a pool. We split the time between my mother-in-law’s birthday and that. We do fireworks, they play horseshoes and volleyball. Then my brother makes up these games. Not a bad weekend

Jenna: Yeah, like egg tosses and stuff like that. You get covered in eggs. I got it last year..

Bill Evans and Kristine O’Brien, Holbrook: We live in Holbrook but we’re doing a little getaway for two days, staying at Danfords and hanging out in town. We’re just gonna walk around, enjoy the atmosphere, have dinner. For us at home, we show patriotism, but here, we’re really just looking to get away and have a 24-48 hours escaping from our four girls, ages 11 to 18, and throughout the weekend we’ll celebrate

.John and Nicole Goncharuk, Selden

Nicole: We’re just taking a walk out here today with the family, and then we’re gonna barbecue at the house for 4th of July.

John: Just barbecue stuff at the house. Not so much, since we have the kids now, nothing too big or extravagant. It’s low-key. We’re in Selden, so we’re way up high and we can see the fireworks at Bald Hill. But we might venture down here [to Port Jefferson] and we have pamphlets that show where fireworks are going on so we might check that out. There’s plenty to see and plenty to do [on Long Island]. We used to get dressed up nice, go out to dinner and stuff like that but now our priorities are different.

All photos by Kevin Redding

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