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The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

By Rebecca Anzel

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is fast approaching. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of Drowned Meadow, as the village was previously known, and fun, interactive activities.

The Port Times Record will preview each of the featured locations around the village leading up to Heritage Weekend. This week includes a look at the pop-up exhibit of community favorite Grammas’ Sweets restaurant; an old-time baseball game at the chamber of commerce; a photograph exhibit and tour of Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum; and a historic schooner available for attendees to explore.

Grammas’ Sweets

Grammas’ original neon sign is being re-created by craftsmen for Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
Grammas’ original neon sign is being re-created by craftsmen for Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

The Home Art Gallery on Main Street will soon transform into a pop-up exhibit of cherished town restaurant Grammas’ Sweets.

Jill Russell, Port Jefferson Village media relations and marketing consultant, is the weekend’s chairperson and the woman in charge of the event. She said the right side of the space will be transformed into a re-creation of what Grammas’ looked like, complete with a checkered floor, candy cases and a soda bar.

The left, occupying what now is a gallery space, will be a timeline that tells the story of Grammas’ through photography, stories and anecdotes. There will be soda jerks behind the counter showing off old menus and display cases containing vintage candy around the space.

“What’s really going to get everybody’s attention is the re-creation on the right side,” Russell said. “But for me, the stuff on the left is going to be very, very fascinating. I just love the entire exhibit — I really do — for different reasons, and I think others will too.”

Despite rumors of Grammas’ original sign being used in the space, Russell said it was destroyed. Instead, she is working with craftsmen to create a new sign that will fit over the Home Art Gallery’s. It will be based on a photograph Russell found of the original neon sign.

Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce

The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is hosting two attractions sure to draw in a crowd. Parked in front of the building on West Broadway will be several Model A Ford Club of America cars, which Chamber Director of Operations Barbara Ransome said will hopefully bring visitors inside the building, which was constructed in 1682.

The historic building, called Roe House, has ties to the Culper Spy Ring. Descendants of John Roe helped get information to General George Washington to help win the Revolutionary War.

Outside will be a vintage 9-inning baseball game played by rules used in 1864. The umpires will be operating using rules from that time, which Ransome said are “totally different from what we do today.” Village residents will be competing against players from Eckford Base Ball Club of Brooklyn — both teams wearing 19th century uniforms. A quick presentation will precede the game and the Chamber will be giving out ices.

Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum

The Lettie G. Howard schooner, one of the last vessels of its kind in existence, will be available for attendees of Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
The Lettie G. Howard schooner, one of the last vessels of its kind in existence, will be available for attendees of Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

Down the road from the Chamber, on the corner of Barnum and West Broadway, sits Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum. Constructed around 1765, the building is named after the area’s original name.

Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, its historian and curator, will have two exhibits ready for Heritage Weekend. The first is called “History Squared,” where artists will use village archives to create artwork with various mediums on a 12×12 inch square. The second, called “Patriots’ Stand” will feature 28 rare prints from the American Revolution. Artifacts from Drowned Meadow will also be exhibited and tours of the building will be offered.

“This event is so exciting because it’s a way to celebrate our role in our nation’s independence,” Grier-Key said. “We take a lot of pride in this crowning jewel for Port Jefferson.”

Historic schooner

A national historic landmark schooner will be docked along the water. The craft, the Lettie G. Howard, was built in 1893 as a commercial fishing vessel and is one of the last vessels of its kind in existence. It will be representing Port Jefferson’s rich heritage of shipbuilding and be open to the public all weekend. Guides will be onboard to share the history of the boat and the village’s relationship with building such crafts.

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Porta-potties are located outside the locked bathroom facilities at the popular Stony Brook beach.Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

The absence of functioning public bathroom facilities has caused a problem at a popular Stony Brook beach.

Because the health department does not permit swimming where there are no restrooms, there will be no lifeguards on duty this season, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.

A recently added sign warns beachgoers to swim at their own risk, due to the lack of lifeguards.

Stony Brook Beach is crowded in the summer with families, children and dogs, village resident Nicole Mullen said. She goes to this beach on Sand Street four to five times a week.

Now that the bathrooms are closed, though, she said some beachgoers are less than thrilled.

Mullen said she is lucky to live nearby, but for the typical folks that frequent the beach, the nearest public bathroom is in Fratelli’s Italian Eatery — about a 10-minute walk away.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” — Nicole Mullen

The Town of Brookhaven did not open the bathrooms at Stony Brook Beach, which is commonly referred to as Sand Street beach by residents, because findings in an engineer’s report commissioned by the town found structural and plumbing issues with the 50-year-old building, said town spokesman Kevin Molloy. The beach will remain open all summer, albeit without lifeguards.

“I have been working with the Parks Department to address the issues with the bathroom facilities at Stony Brook Beach as it is of great importance for our community to have access to our beautiful Town beaches,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an email. “I have, and will continue to, explore the options for reinstating lifeguards with [Brookhaven parks commissioner] Morris.”

The Town placed two porta-potties outside the existing, closed bathroom structure, Cartright added. Though Mullen said the town does not clean them.

It is unclear when the beach’s restrooms will be renovated. Molloy said the estimated cost of the work is a minimum of $400,000. Parks Commissioner Ed Morris is just beginning the budget process for 2017.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” Mullen said. She added that the restrooms look the same now as they did when she worked at Stony Brook Beach in the 1980s.

Her friend Michelle Roach agreed. “This beach is a little hidden treasure,” she said, adding that she prefers Stony Brook Beach because it is free to park in its lot. There is a $5 charge to park at West Meadow Beach, which is about 3.5 miles away.

“Moving forward, I will continue to work with Parks to address repairs to the bathrooms with the expectation that they will be opened as soon as possible,” Cartright said in an email.

A group of kids decked out in Pokémon attire as they search for Pokémon in town. Photo from Benjamin Harris

By Rebecca Anzel 

The latest trend sweeping the nation is a throwback from the 1990s with a modern-technology twist: a augmented reality Pokémon game played on smartphones, and residents of Huntington are not immune. Hundreds of kids, teenagers and adults alike took to the streets this week to interact in this new game.

This latest offering from Pokémon evolved the franchise beyond the original cards, television show and video games. Pokémon GO allows players to create an avatar, called a trainer, and walk around their neighborhoods catching various Pokémon. Players can battle one another and get free in-game items from locations chosen by the game.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,”
— Gerard Anthony

The game is getting people of all ages out of their houses and into their neighborhoods. The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and players have been posting on social media about how far they have traveled around their neighborhood.

One 22-year-old Greenlawn resident said she saw more than 50 kids hunting for Pokémon at parks in Northport and Huntington in one afternoon.

Megan McLafferty introduced the game to two kids she babysits because she thought, “it would be a fun activity to do outside with the kids — and they loved it.”

She said the kids really enjoyed searching different spots for Pokémon.

“I like that it gets you outside, it gets you moving, and it gets you to interact with other people,” she said in an interview. “It seemed like a lot of people were in big groups together [searching for Pokémon].”

Gerard Anthony, an 18-year-old Northport resident agreed that Pokémon GO is a great game to play in groups.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,” Anthony said in an interview. “I am able to go into Northport by myself and meet a new group of people each day.”

The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and similarly, the only way to get a refill of free in-game item, like pokéballs is to go to Pokéstops.

One of those stops is the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in East Setauket. Director Ted Gutmann said once he discovered this, he had to try it. “I caught a few in my office,” he said. “So they’re here!”

The library is busy this time of year because of its summer reading program, but Gutmann said being a Pokéstop is attracting more visitors than usual.

A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“The hope is, once they get in here, they’ll stop and read a book or attend one of our programs,” he said.

Gutman added that the library had tried its hand at augmented reality a while ago, implementing the technology in its newsletter. It abandoned the effort because it was not getting enough use at the time, but now that Pokémon GO is increasing the popularity of augmented reality, he said the library may revisit the project.

“There are lots of opportunities to use the technology beyond the game,” he said.

Port Jefferson’s Main Street is also a huge attraction for players. With a multitude of Pokéstops and gyms, the promise of Port Jefferson tempted Chris Aguilar, 23, to travel from Riverhead two days in a row.

Aguilar said there were so many people in the streets on the first night he was in the area, July 13, that mobs of trainers were crossing the streets. They did not begin to clear out until about 2:30 a.m.

“This game is bringing people together in an unprecedented way,” he said. “It’s like an age gap doesn’t exist between players,” who can speak to each other on almost an equal level about the game and trade tips.

Other local hotspots to catch Pokémon include Heritage Park  in Mount Sinai and Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place.

Just two days after the game’s release, players were spending an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds per day playing Pokémon GO, a higher rate than popular apps including Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

According to SimilarWeb, an information technology company that tracks web analytics, Pokémon GO has so many daily active users that it is projected to soon have more users than Twitter.

But some people are concerned about the safety risks associated with Pokémon GO.

Pedestrians are now wandering around towns, with their eyes faced down at their smartphones. Law enforcement agencies, institutions of higher education and public transportation systems have spoken of the dangers of walking around consumed by a smartphone.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) held a press conference Tuesday to remind residents to exercise caution while playing.

“The safety and well-being of our residents, especially children, is our highest priority,” he said in a statement.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini echoed his sentiments at the event.

“There have also been accounts of people using the application while driving,” Sini said. “We are encouraging not just parents, but all users, to practice caution to avoid injury to self and others.”

Stony Brook University also contributed to the conversation, reminding students to watch where they are walking while playing.

Mark Szkolnicki, a student of the university, said that he is always careful.

“I grew up in a bad area, so the whole mugging-for-phones thing has been something that I’ve been cautious of forever,” he said. “But I worry for the youth because it’s a cool concept and it could really grow, but those kinds of obstacles really put a downer on the whole gaming community.”

Stony Brook Office for Marine Sciences Secretary Christina Fink agreed. She said it is important to keep in mind that if players are going hunting for Pokémon at night, they should go with at least one other person.

Reporting contributed by Victoria Espinoza.

Say Meatball! The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George and Chef Pisghetti pose with members of the audience after the show. Photo courtesy of SPCA

By Rebecca Anzel 

Curious George is still going on adventures after 75 years of entertaining children. Through Aug. 28, the actors at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts transform the story of “Curious George: The Golden Meatball” into an hour-long musical performance.

In this play, George helps his friend Chef Pisghetti cook meatballs for the annual All You Can Eat Meatball Day. George had been excited to help the chef cook and serve guests, but when the day came, there was no one in Chef Pisghetti’s restaurant to serve the meatballs to. Instead, the crowd was captivated by Phinneas T. Lightspeed’s meatball-making machine. Upset by Lightspeed’s rhymes, fancy coat and blue meatballs, Chef Pisghetti declared he would never cook again. George, though, wants to help the chef rediscover his passion and talent. He travels all the way to Rome to enter his friend’s meatballs into the Golden Meatball Contest.

This story is based on the originals written by Margret and H.A. Rey, who took their manuscript of “Curious George” out of Paris during World War II. As Jews, the Reys decided to flee Paris before the Nazis seized the city. H.A. Rey assembled two bicycles, and they fled Paris just a few hours before it fell. Among the meager possessions they brought with them was the illustrated manuscript of “Curious George.”

The stories were later turned into a PBS Kids cartoon, which is still airing.

Say Meatball! The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George and Chef Pisghetti pose with members of the audience after the show. Photo courtesy of SPCA
Say Meatball! The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George and Chef Pisghetti pose with members of the audience after the show. Photo courtesy of SPCA

Directed by Brianne Boyd, the adult cast of “The Golden Meatball” kept the audience laughing throughout. Marisa Guardino, as George, is complemented perfectly by the other five actors, each of whom played more than one character. It is a testament to costume designer Ronald R. Green III that each of those wardrobe changes happened seamlessly.

Brian Gill, who plays the Man in the Yellow Hat for all Sunday performances, was excellent. Gill brought the same spirit to the role as the character he plays is known for — a responsible and trusting parent to George who can laugh and have fun.

Bobby Montaniz was convincing as Chef Pisghetti. His playful Italian accent and spirited exclamation of “ba da boopie” at the end of a few of his phrases elicited giggles from the audience. Tommy Castelli (Phinneas T. Lightspeed and others), Emily Attridge (Netti and others) and Meagan Materazo (Doorman and others) all worked well with Montaniz in the various roles they performed as partners. The four delivered punchy jokes aimed at parents expertly, like one when Castelli was delivering a package to George by himself, and Materazo asked him where his fellow delivery men were. Castelli looked at the audience, shrugged and replied, “budget cuts.”

Guardino as Curious George stole the show. Her voice perfectly mirrored that of the cartoon character, and her dance moves, from shakes to splits, endeared her character to the children in the audience. The audience also participated during several of the times Guardino and others would ask for directions or confirmation. The cheers for her at the end of the performance were the loudest.

With original music by John Kavanaugh and book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon, the songs in “The Golden Meatball” were lighthearted and familiar to a few of the children, who could be heard singing along — especially with the Curious George theme song with which the show started and ended.

After the cast sang “George Goes to Rome” and “A Buddy like you,” Chef Pisghetti thanks his friend for traveling all the way to Italy to enter him in the meatball competition. “I’m so lucky to have a buddy like you,” he tells George, whom he affectionately calls Giorgio. George ends up having to cook the chef’s meatballs all by himself at the competition, and he is worried he does not have the chef’s secret ingredient. But after he wins the competition and Chef Pisghetti finally makes it to the contest, he tells George the meatballs he cooked came out so well because he had the secret ingredient — love.

With the cast’s energy and familiar songs, “The Golden Meatball” is the perfect show for young children. Just bring a sweater — the theater is a little chilly. The actors are available after their bows for photos and autographs, although Artistic Director Ken Washington warned that because George is a monkey, “he can’t really sign things.”

Children’s theater will continue at the Smithtown Center for Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, with “Elf the Musical, Jr.” from Nov. 25 to Dec. 30, “Shrek the Musical, Jr.” from Jan. 21 through Feb. 26 and “Annie, Jr.” from March 18 to April 15. All tickets are $15. To order, call the box office at 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Concrete barriers at the edge of Mount Sinai Harbor along Shore Road will not be removed as part of a project to improve the area’s stormwater infrastructure. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

The Town of Brookhaven will start construction next month on Shore Road between Mount Sinai-Coram Road and Rocky Hill Road in an effort to alleviate the negative impact of stormwater runoff in Mount Sinai Harbor.

“This is one project I identified really early on when I took this office three years ago,” Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) said. “I think if you’re a resident of Long Island, or this case specifically, the North Shore, you understand this is a very serious problem to our quality of life, our recreation opportunities and our health.”

Brookhaven is installing a series of 10 leaching pools along the road to capture stormwater before it reaches the harbor.

Paid for by a New York State Department of Transportation grant worth $382,560, the project will take almost three months to complete.

Losquadro became highway superintendent right after Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and before Superstorm Sandy in late October the following year. There was a lot of damage to the coast from both storms, he said, and none of the repair work had been done by the time he took office.

Currently, a lot of stormwater runoff is flowing into the harbor from the roads and rooftops in the area, bringing with it chemicals, sediment, debris and other pollutants. This is an issue plaguing 75 percent of impaired bodies of water in New York State, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

To fix the problem, the town is installing a series of 10 leaching pools along the road to capture as much stormwater into the ground as possible before it reaches the harbor. Water enters these catch basins and percolates into the ground gradually, filtered through a natural process. Each one has a capacity of more than 3,000 gallons.

Two bioretention areas will also be installed to naturally filter out any toxins from the water that does make it to the harbor, much in the way wetlands do. An existing discharge pipe will be removed.

The town will be resurfacing nine roads in the area, including Shore Road, in addition to the stormwater project. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
The town will be resurfacing nine roads in the area, including Shore Road, in addition to the stormwater project. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

Losquadro said residents have asked if a concrete breakwater put along the edge of the harbor some years ago will be removed as part of this project. Because the harbor’s ecosystem has reestablished itself around that concrete, the DEC does not want it removed.

“I have to say it was kind of surprising to me, but I understand the DEC’s point,” Losquadro said. “They feel it would be more injurious to the environment to dig that out and replace it than to just leave it as it is.”

The town will also be resurfacing nine roads in the area, which Losquadro said are in “deplorable condition,” this fall. The cost, about $900,000, is not covered by the state grant.

Mount Sinai resident Julie Bernatzky walks along Shore Road often.

Although the project is starting a year later than planned, as a result of a delay following a change in the region’s DEC director Losquadro said, Bernatzky is happy for the upgrades, although she hopes the construction will not disrupt her route.

Losquadro said traffic in the area should not be any more disrupted than during any other project. Because the area the town will be working in is tight and there is not a lot of room on the side of the road, one lane of Shore Road may need to be closed.

New Mobi-Mats make sand easier to navigate for those with wheelchairs, other mobility devices

Deputy Parks Commissioner Rob Maag, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Aisha Grundmann, Supervisor Ed Romaine Jason Soricelli, Program Supervisor for Wheelchair Programs, and Alex Grundmann, stand on a new Mobi-Mat at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Rebecca Anzel

Brookhaven is laying the groundwork to make its beaches more accessible to residents.

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced new sand surfacing mats, called Mobi-Mats, at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai and West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook.

“The mats open up opportunities that didn’t exist before for people that, whatever the reason, the sand was not easy to navigate,” Bonner said. “So often times they wouldn’t go to the beach.”

The nonslip, semi-rigid roll-up beach access mats, completely made from recycled polyester roll by New Jersey company Deschamps Mats Systems Inc., enable residents who are elderly or using wheelchairs, crutches, strollers or other mobility devices to more easily traverse sandy beaches. They are low maintenance — the tear-resistant, permeable structure allows sand to filter through — and are easily maintained by removing any excess sand buildup with a broom or leaf blower. Mobi-Mats have already been used at beaches in Nassau County, including Jones Beach, and by the Marine Corps for the past 20 years in vehicular beach landing operations.

Accomplishing this project was easy, Bonner said. She saw a picture of the Mobi-Mats online over the winter and showed it to Parks Commissioner Ed Morris, who ordered them. “Everything in government should be that simple,” she said.

Rocky Point resident Aisha Grundmann said the mats are “wonderful” and installing them was “a great idea.” Her son Alex, 11, uses a wheelchair and asks to go to Cedar Beach more frequently now that he knows the mats make it easier for him to navigate across the sand.

“Multiple people have asked Alex for a beach playdate now, where they otherwise maybe wouldn’t have,” she said. “I can’t think of a more accepting community.”

Alex, who is going into fifth grade, is a local advocate for greater mobility not just for wheelchairs, but for everyone. He influenced improvements to the playgrounds and restrooms at his school to make them more handicap-accessible.

“The feedback for this project has been some of the most positive feedback I’ve ever received since I’ve been in office,” Bonner said.

Cedar Beach West and West Meadow Beach are just the first of Brookhaven’s beaches to get the mats. According to a town spokesman, Brookhaven purchased three — and there are plans to expand the program.

“They will be placed at some point at all of our beaches to allow people with disabilities or physical limitations to also enjoy the beach — one of the great pastimes on Long Island,” Romaine said. “We think this has a large impact on people’s lives.”

He added that for wheelchair-bound Brookhaven residents, beaches also have “beach-ready” chairs with larger wheels available upon request from the lifeguards.

Mobi-Mats are available for use between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

By Rebecca Anzel

Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society
Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

There will be music in the air this weekend at the Smithtown Historical Society.

The third annual Smithtown Blues Festival kicks off on Saturday, July 9, from 1 to 10 p.m. at the society’s grounds on Middle Country Road.

The outdoor festival features more than 10 musical performances by community and professional bands, such as The Sweet Suzi Blues Band, Christine Sweeney & The Dirty Stayouts and Rock N Roll University’s Masterclass. This year, for the first time, artists will be playing on two stages.

Smithtown Historical Society director Marianne Howard said the festival has expanded from where it first started.

“We were able to build the festival even more from where it was last year,” she said. “And it’s growing in length too.” The several hundred expected attendees are welcome to bring food or try food from Chef Gail’s Italian food truck. About 20 arts and crafts vendors will sell blues music merchandise, jewelry, candles, soap and other goods, and The Wellness Nook will be providing free massages.

The festival is being held in conjunction with the Long Island Blues Society, All-Music’s Rock N Roll University, WUSB Stony Brook and Hertz Equipment Rentals. It will be held rain or shine, and tickets cost $15 for Smithtown Historical Society and Long Island Blues Society members; or $20 for nonmembers.