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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

On Dec. 3, legends and spies from history such as Culper Spy Ring members Major Benjamin Tallmadge and Caleb Brewster, prominent shipbuilder Jonas Smith and philanthropists Ward and Dorothy Melville joined Stony Brook and neighboring residents to ring in the holiday season.

The village’s 38th annual holiday festival featured the historic characters in giant puppet form, created by Processional Arts Workshop, during the event’s Puppets Processional led by The Jazz Loft owner Tom Manuel and his band. Santa was on hand to hear all the children’s’ wishes and take photos. Additional activities at the event organized by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization included live music with WALK Radio; a performance by Roseland School of Dance; carolers; a holiday train display at the Cultural Center; and Wiggs Optician’s holiday windows.

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BEST IN THE INDUSTRY From left, Lisa Santeramo, Long Island director of operations, office of Gov. Cuomo; Mark Legrady, director event technology, PSAV; Gloria Rocchio, president, Ward Melville Heritage Organization; Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO, Discover Long Island; Alan Fairbairn, CHIA, CHA NYIT; and Robert Koenig, associate dean, Student Advancement Programs, NYIT. Photo from WMHO

Discover Long Island recently announced the winners of the region’s first-ever Tourism Awards in four categories: Partner of the Year, Industry Advancement, Tourism Trailblazer and Tourism Legacy. The honorees were recognized at the Inaugural Tourism Awards Gala at Fox Hollow in Woodbury on Nov. 14.

“We couldn’t be more excited to announce the first recipients of the Long Island Tourism Awards,” said Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO, Discover Long Island. “These outstanding individuals are setting new benchmarks within the tourism community, which has become an essential economic driver for our region.”

And the 2017 Tourism Award honorees are: PSAV — Partner of the Year Award Global Center for Hospitality Management at New York Institute of Technology — Industry Advancement Award Governor Cuomo for the Long Island Welcome Center and Taste NY Market — Tourism Trailblazer Award Gloria Rocchio, President of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization — Tourism Legacy Award

Discover Long Island was established in 1978 as the official tourism promotion agency for tourism, meetings and conventions, trade shows, sporting events and related activities. For more information, visit www.discoverlongisland.com.

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Pictured from left are judge Ed DeCorsia; WMHO Education Outreach Manager Sara Viola; judge Gerry Saulter; finalists Paul Foschino, Christy Jean, Claire Lindsey, Thomas Foschino and Jessica Nunez; WMHO Director of Development Gabrielle Lindau; and Scott Sanders of Shea & Sanders Real Estate. Photo from WMHO
LIGT winner Paul Foschino with Scott Sanders of Shea & Sanders Real Estate and Gabrielle Lindau, WMHO Director of Development

Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village hosted the Long Island’s Got Talent finals on Nov. 3. The evening was sponsored by Shea & Sanders Real Estate, Five Towns College, Rocco J. Morelli DDS of Water’s Edge Dental and the Green Towers Group. Created by WMHO’s Youth Corps, the annual event was open to students from ages 10 to 17 who live in Nassau or Suffolk County.

Five finalists performed in concert in front of a live audience, and the winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Gerry Saulter of the Five Towns College Music Department; performance veteran, Ed DeCorsia of New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band; and Leer Leary, who has been seen and heard in countless TV shows/films, commercials and is a member of Blackfriars Shakespeare Company.

First place was awarded to 14-year-old Paul Foschino, a vocalist and pianist from Bohemia; second place went to vocalist Christy Jean, age 15, of Brentwood; while vocalist Jessica Nunez, a 12-year-old from Wantagh, garnered third place. Vocalist, pianist and guitarist Claire Lindsey, a 13-year-old from Centerport, was awarded fourth place while vocalist/guitarist Thomas Foschino, age 16, from Bohemia received fifth place. Congratulations!

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.

The streets of Stony Brook were filled with more than 300 runners and an estimated 460 walkers participating in the Walk for Beauty and Hercules on the Harbor 10K Run Oct. 22. Cancer survivors along with family members and friends collect donations to support their walk or run, which takes them through the scenic and historic Stony Brook. All proceeds go directly to a targeted research fund at Stony Brook Medicine for Breast Cancer Research and The WMHO Unique Boutique for wigs.

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.

Ralph D. Spencer, Jr.
Dr. Lisa Strano-Paul

Grab your bedazzled jeans and get out your “jewels” for a night of fun with dinner, dancing, raffles, live and silent auctions and more at Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s annual Jewels & Jeans benefit dinner on Wednesday, June 28, at Flowerfield in St. James. The celebratory evening will honor leaders in the community for their outstanding achievements and contributions. All proceeds will be used for WMHO educational programs, Youth Corps and historic properties.

Dr. David B. Paul

 

Live auction items will include: Chef Barrett Beyer from “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Casino,” who will purchase, prepare and clean-up a three-course meal plus wine for eight in your own home; a private, behind the scenes wine tour for 15, courtesy of Pindar Vineyards and the Damianos family, which includes a tour of barrel and tank rooms, production facility and a select tasting of five wines. Also includes a case of specially created “Grist Mill White” wine with each bottle signed by the owners of Pindar Vineyards; “Princess,” “Pampered Princess” and “Pampered Tweens” parties, each courtesy of Blue Salon & Spa. Young ladies will have lunch, manicures, facials, foot scrubs, makeup lessons, makeup applications and much more (age groups apply) and a six-course tasting dinner courtesy of Mirabelle/Three Village Inn in Stony Brook with wine paring for 10.

Brian Kilmeade

This year’s distinguished honorees are Brian Kilmeade, recipient of the Champion of History Award and co-author of “George Washington’s Secret Six” and “Thomas Jefferson & the Tripoli Pirates”; Ralph D. Spencer Jr., president and CEO of Suffolk Federal; Dr. Lisa Strano-Paul, professor of medicine and assistant dean for clinical education at Stony Brook School of Medicine; and Dr. David B. Paul of Long Island Anesthesia Physicians, LLP.

Festivities begin with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. Flowerfield is located at 199 Mills Pond Road, St. James. For full information and registration visit http://wmho.org/jewels-and-jeans/or call 631-751-2244.

CHECK PRESENTATION: From left, Dr. Lina Obeid, Leg. Kara Hahn, Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, Gloria Rocchio, Dr. Scott Powers, Carol Simco and Dr. Jun Lin. Photo from WMHO

On March 27, Stony Brook University’s Cancer Center received a donation of $40,000 from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), which were funds raised from WMHO’s 23rd Annual Walk for Beauty and Hercules Run held on Oct. 23 of last year in historic Stony Brook Village.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; Gloria Rocchio, president, Ward Melville Heritage Organization and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; and Carol Simco, co-chair, Walk for Beauty, officially presented the check to Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, director, Stony Brook Cancer Center, and vice dean, Cancer Medicine. Joining them were Dr. Jun Lin and Dr. Scott Powers, cancer researchers whose projects received funds raised from the 2015 Walk for Beauty, and Dr. Lina Obeid, dean for research, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Also present, but not shown, were Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), WMHO Trustee Anna Kerekes and Walk for Beauty committee members. Since its inception in 1994, Walk for Beauty has raised over $1.365 million toward breast cancer research. Funds raised also help to supply items such as wigs and prostheses for SBU Cancer Center patients. The event is an all-volunteer initiative with no administrative costs.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Walk for Beauty, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22. Visit www.wmho.org/wfb for more information.

Tom Manuel leads the Jazz Loft Big Band on a bandstand at the loft, constructed from pieces of the original dance floor of New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom. Photo from The Jazz Loft

By John Broven

On May 21, Stony Brook Village reverberated to the sounds of a New Orleans-style street parade to mark the opening of The Jazz Loft at 275 Christian Ave. That happy day brought to reality the dreams of president and founder Tom Manuel.

“In the brief seven months the Jazz Loft has been open we’ve been able to accomplish the goals of our mission well ahead of schedule,” Manuel said. “Our performance calendar has presented some of the finest local, national and international artists; our educational programming has established our pre-college Jazz Institute in collaboration with Stony Brook University; and Our Young at Heart program has introduced wonderful music therapy events to people with memory loss.

“In addition to all of this our lecture series, family concerts, sponsored concert series and acquisitions and installations of jazz memorabilia, art, photography and more are ongoing and ever growing.”

Tom Manuel with children during The Creole Love Song: Operation Haiti! mission. Photo from The Jazz Loft

For establishing The Jazz Loft so quickly and effectively as a community resource, Manuel, a 37-year-old educator, historian and trumpet player, from St. James, is recognized by TBR News Media as a Person of the Year.

“Tom Manuel is a well-deserving nominee for Person of the Year,” Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “The Jazz Loft is an incredible gift to the 1st Council District. Tom’s passion for jazz has been transformed into a vivid, vibrant, collection of jazz history and a home for local talent, musicians and performances. In a short time, The Jazz Loft has become an incredible community space for art, history, culture and music.”

Visitors are able to view the loft’s museum exhibits featuring greats such as saxophonist Louis Jordan, the biggest African-American star of the 1940s and a massive influence on the ensuing rock ’n’ roll era; heartthrob blues and jazz crooner Arthur Prysock; upright bassist Lloyd Trotman, a prolific session musician who provided the bass line on Ben E. King’s anthem, “Stand by Me”; society bandleader Lester Lanin; and the seafaring vibraphonist and composer Teddy Charles.

Jean Prysock, of Searingtown, donated the memorabilia of her late husband Arthur Prysock, who played the top theaters and clubs from the 1940s onward and recorded for labels such as Decca, Mercury, Old Town and MGM-Verve. Why did she feel Manuel was worthy of support?

“He was young, he was enthusiastic, he was dedicated, he was sincere,” she said. “I first met him at a jazz bar in Patchogue. He led an 11-piece band, which sounded as if it could have played at New York’s Paramount Theatre.”

Apart from conducting bands, Manuel is an expert trumpet player, who credits among his inspirations Chet Baker, Warren Vache, Bobby Hackett, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Roy Eldridge. As an indication of the Jazz Loft’s authentic atmosphere, Manuel said the impressive three-tier bandstand was constructed from the original dance floor of the famed Roseland Ballroom on New York’s 52nd Street, adding, “It was an extreme labor of love, but certainly worth the effort.”

Manuel has directed a full program at The Jazz Loft while holding an adjunct post at Suffolk County Community College and a faculty position with Stony Brook University directing the jazz program of the Pre-College Music Division. If that’s not all, he has recently completed his doctorate, a DMA in jazz performance, at SBU and carried out charity work in Haiti.

“Tom is fully deserving of this award, not only for creating The Jazz Loft and making jazz available in our area, but also because of his remarkable spirit in bettering every community with which he engages,” Perry Goldstein, professor and chair at SBU’s Department of Music, said.

Tom Manuel (white hat at center) on opening day at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, on May 21 of this year. Photo by John Broven

“He motivated seven volunteers to go to Haiti with him after the recent hurricane, where they distributed 200 pairs of sneakers, clothing and school supplies purchased through donations. Tom radiates positive energy in everything he does,” Goldstein said.

Manuel readily acknowledges the help of others in giving liftoff to The Jazz Loft, including board members Laura Vogelsberg and Laura Stiegelmaier, many musicians and sponsors Harlan and Olivia Fischer who “donated our sound system, which is quite outstanding.” Manuel’s philosophy is summarized by the title of his well-received talk at the Three Village Community Trust’s annual celebration, held at The Jazz Loft in November: “Collaboration: The Art of Possibility.”

The jazz facility is housed in a historic building, comprising the old Stone Jug tavern and the former firehouse station, which accommodated the first museum in Stony Brook, founded in 1935 by real estate broker and insurance agent O.C. Lempfert. With the backing of Ward and Dorothy Melville, the museum was formally incorporated as the Suffolk Museum in 1939 before evolving into today’s The Long Island Museum. The renovated building, which was accorded landmark status by the Town of Brookhaven in September, is leased long term to The Jazz Loft by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

“Tom Manuel is a unique individual who was born into a generation of musicians steeped in rock ’n’ roll, rap and new wave,” Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said. “I got to know Tom because of a[n] … article about a ‘young man’ with a house full of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the jazz era. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization owned a vacant building … and Tom had a collection in need of a home. A year later The Jazz Loft opened in Stony Brook, where Tom shares his love of jazz with like-minded musicians and fans. Tom is truly a role model for the concept of accomplishing your dream through passion and dedication. We are proud to welcome The Jazz Loft and Dr. Tom Manuel into our community.”

Photo from WMHO

Last summer, the late Erik Halvorsen, owner of Norse Tree Service in Setauket, worked on a project with Michael J. Opisso Designs beautifying the Village Green in Stony Brook Village. When that project was finished, Erik mentioned that he had always wanted to donate a Dogwood tree to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and it was determined that a location would be finalized at a later date. Unfortunately in light of his recent tragic passing, that will not happen.

In his honor, WMHO has now planted that tree for him. A 14-foot Kousa Dogwood was recently donated and installed by Jeff Owen of Owen Brothers Landscaping. The white flowering tree will bloom from May to July. A bronze plaque honoring Erik’s memory will be placed on a boulder on the Village Green at a special dedication ceremony this spring.

If you would like to make a contribution, please send your tax deductible donation to WMHO (P. O. Box 572, Stony Brook, NY 11790) and note Erik’s name. Any proceeds over and above the cost of the plaque and boulder will be given to the Halvorsen family. For more information please call 631-751-2244.

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