Events

Visitors to a Stony Brook bar and restaurant were looking for more than food and drink March 15, they were aiming to help out a good cause.

The Bench hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser Sunday where participants got their heads shaved to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Lead organizer Christopher Pollina said with donations and a company match, participants surpassed the total event goal of $20,000.

According to the organizer the nonprofit group Three Village Dads raised more than half of that amount, and its foundation donated an additional $1,000.

Rob Meo raised the highest amount of the day with $5,000. During the event, Boy Scout troops 70 and 427, both from Setauket, stopped by to have their heads shaved by Amanda Bellavance of Dapper Cuts Barbershop and donate funds. Music was provided by Mike Rutowitcz of Sound’s Alive Entertainment.

Pollina and co-organizer Scott Montekew were pleased with the results from the second annual event at The Bench.

“We topped last year’s $12,500 raised, even during this trying time of COVID-19,” Pollina said.

A scene from the 2019 St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Editor’s note: As of March 12, the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed.

During this year’s 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. James, spectators will witness a first — two grand marshals leading the parade.

Mario Mattera

Hosted by the St. James Chamber of Commerce, the parade committee has chosen residents Kerry Reilly DeJesus and Mario Mattera as grand marshals for 2020. William Garthe, chamber board member, said each year residents are asked to write in to say who they would like to see lead the parade. This year the chamber received an overwhelming and equal number of nominations for Mattera and DeJesus.

Mattera said he was surprised when he heard he was chosen because he thought the grand marshal had to be of Irish descent. The St. James resident said he was humbled and honored.

When he heard DeJesus was also chosen, he was thrilled and described her as a wonderful person.

“Just her personality brings a smile to your face,” he said. “That’s the type of woman Kerry is. We need more of that.”

DeJesus also had complimentary things to say about Mattera.

“I couldn’t be in better company than Mario,” she said, adding she was overwhelmed when she heard the news that she was chosen.

“I was so flattered,” she said. “I thought that was so sweet of them to think of me.”

Mattera, a Smithtown resident for 55 years, moved from Nesconset to St. James in 1996. He said his wife of 26 years, Terry, and his two daughters Jessica and Jayme will be on hand to walk with him in the parade.

The husband and father is the business agent for Plumbers Local Union 200 of Ronkonkoma. In addition to his work with the union, he is a member of the Smithtown Executive Board representing St. James, and on the boards of Community Association of Greater St. James, the Suffolk County Water Authority and the Suffolk County Consumer Affairs Plumbing, Licensing and Fire Protection. He is also a Suffolk County Workforce Housing Committee member, the plumber’s union chairman for the political PAC fund for the county and board member for the New York State Apprenticeship Committee.

In his free time, he volunteers with Helmets to Hardhats, which works with returning veterans, and he also finds time to cheer on the Smithtown High School East’s Whisperettes, the kickline team, of which both of his daughters have been members.

DeJesus works as a call center manager for the Stony Brook University’s Southampton Hospital. She has lived in St. James for more than two decades where she and her husband, Ralph, of 25 years, have raised four children. She said she’s excited that her son Ralph Jr., who is serving in the U.S. Marines, has been granted a weekend leave to march with her and the family.

Kerry Reilly DeJesus

The wife and mother has taught religion at St. Philip and St. James R.C. Church, and with her teaching career in St. James and past service in two other churches, she earned a 20-year service award. She has also been active in the Smithtown Central School District as a Family Living chairperson working on food drives at Mills Pond Elementary School and was vice president of the PTA at the elementary school for two years. She later went on to serve as PTA president for two years. As her children advanced in the school district, so did DeJesus. For three years she was PTA president at Nesaquake Middle School and then did the same for six years at Smithtown High School East’s PTA. She has worked in other roles too as Spiritwear chairperson, recording secretary, vice president and a two-year stint as council president and vice president for the district.

Outside of religious instruction and the school district, DeJesus said she has been a Girl and Boy Scouts leader for her children’s troops. She has volunteered through the years at Deepwells Haunted Mansion where she has played a witch and dead doll, as well as working the concession.

“That’s a lot of fun,” she said. “That’s another great community thing that we do in St. James.” 

While Mattera has participated in past parades with the car club, DeJesus has marched with the Boy and Girl Scouts. When it comes to parades, both grand marshals agree it’s important for communities.

“It brings everyone together, and bringing the community together, especially with the feeling right now — that we’re going to give the town a jump start — it’s a lot,” Mattera said, referencing the revitalization of
Lake Avenue.

DeJesus said parades are also a way to draw people to St. James from other hamlets in the township. Plus, she said the St. Patrick’s Day Parade signals that spring is around the corner and gets everyone out of their homes.

“I feel like I’m reconnecting with old friends when I see all these people,” she said.

Mattera and DeJesus will be joined by the parade’s princesses and princes. The court includes two-year-old Avianna Manning, St. James Elementary School third-grader Juliana Cating Gleeson, kindergartener Jayden Cassidy Gleeson, third-grader Samantha Keil, first-grader Violet Keil, third-grader Mia Sherlock, kindergartener Sydney Sherlock, fourth-grader Ethan Tuzinkiewicz, second-grader Benjamin Tuzinkiewicz, first-grader Daniel Tuzinkiewicz and Nesaquake Middle School sixth-grade studentw Kayla Moore.

The St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at the Smithtown High School East parking lot on Woodlawn Avenue and travels to Lake Avenue where it makes a right and continues to the St. James Gazebo by the Long Island Rail Road station.

Over 300 children and their families shuffled into Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket during the school winter recess, Feb. 20, to enjoy the library’s 8th annual Take Your Child to the Library Day. Visitors enjoyed carnival games, face painting, temporary tattoos, balloon sculpting, crafts and more.  

Photos courtesy of Emma Clark Library

Napper Tandy’s in Northport hosted its annual St. Baldrick’s Day event March 7 where participants shave their heads to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Barbers from various locations, as well as those provided by Eastern Suffolk BOCES teacher Luke Mahoney, were on hand to do the shaving. The day also included Irish step dancing by the Mulvihill-Lynch Studio of Irish Dance, raffles and entertainment by Redmax Events. In addition, more than 100 knit hats were donated by knitters from St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in East Northport. The event drew people from all over.

Bob Nolan, who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, said it was his fifth year shaving his head, adding he feels every little thing helps.

Gary Norman, of Long Island City, has been shaving his head for 15 years. He said he was in the hospital with his own battle against cancer, and when he saw the children, it broke his heart.

Northport’s Betty Reidenbach has been shaving her head for 15 years after a friend introduced her to the event, and she said she knows children who have been affected by cancer. 

Tommy McEneny, who lives in Northport and will turn 4 years old on St. Patrick’s Day, said he shaved his head to help other children.

Lynn Kenny, lead event organizer, said there were approximately 96 shavees and at press time the event had raised more than $100,000 with donations still coming in and being counted. She said Northport High School held an event the night before where they had 99 shavees. At press time, the high school event was up to $70,000. She said it was the first time the school held a St. Baldrick’s event.

“I’m so proud of our town and their continued commitment to help us in the fight again childhood cancer,” Kenny said. “In the years that Northport has held St Baldrick’s events, we have raised $6 million. Northport really is a small town with a huge heart.”

Additional reporting by Lina Weingarten

Miller’s Ale House in Commack hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day event March 8 to raise money for childhood cancer research.

According to Wayne Forte, lead organizer, the event raised nearly $50,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation with 72 shavees. In the past 10 years, the Commack event has raised $500,000 for the  nonprofit.

On hand for the event were eight members of the Fr. Judge Knights of Columbus. At press time, the team raised nearly $6,000 for the cause, according to member Bob Slingo. The team is still accepting donations at www.stbaldricks.org/teams/FrJudgeKofC2020.

By Julianne Mosher

On Sunday, March 8, hundreds of people lined the streets in Huntington Village for the 86th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Led by this year’s grand marshal, the Honorable Judge Jerry Asher, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians kicked off the parade starting on New York Avenue and heading down Main Street. 

The streets were lined with green, with parade watchers celebrating the festivities outside village restaurants and bars. Music played from nearby pipe bands and the marching bands from Huntington and Walt Whitman high schools. The local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops marched alongside a group of dog lovers, whose pups were dressed all in green. 

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) waved to the crowd as he walked by along with other elected officials. Members of the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia marched in old-fashioned costumes, as they fired shots to the excited crowd, and Irish step dancers performed in the middle of the street.

Along with the performers and politicians, the local fire and police departments marched along, showing off old-fashioned fire trucks and waving to the kids who watched in awe on the sidelines. 

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration for Gypsy Hair Lounge on Feb. 27. Established in 2015, the salon recently moved from its Port Jefferson Station location on Nesconset Highway to the Three Village Shopping Center at 1389 Route 25A in East Setauket. The salon specializes in creative coloring, highlights, blowouts, extensions and event styling. 

Chamber members Michael Ardolino, Jane Taylor and Charlie Lefkowitz presented a Certificate of Congratulations to owner Nicole Digilio and welcomed her and her staff to the community. 

Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 631-374-6397.

The air was chilly but the sun was bright as hundreds turned out for Kings Park’s 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade March 7.

Jim Girvan, this year’s grand marshal, lead the way with dozens of his family members and friends marching in the parade.

More than 20 bands, 15 of which were bagpipes, as well as more than 10 fire departments and several local businesses made their way down the route which starts at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road, continues down Main Street and turns onto Church Street and ends down Old Dock Road at William T. Rogers Middle School.

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher leading the way as grand marshal. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Julianne Mosher

Decades after moving to Huntington with his family at 13, the Honorable W. Gerard Asher will lead the 86th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Main Street.

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher, above, leading the way as grand marshal.

“Huntington is a great community and it has been for many, many years,” he said.

Known locally as Jerry, the 78-year-old has been a proactive citizen in the town for more than six decades. A graduate of Huntington High School’s class of 1959, Asher was president of the senior class, captain of the championship football team and team captain of the basketball team — hobbies that still interest him today. 

“I like to attend the local high school sporting games,” he said. “I want to show my support because I played when I was a student there.”

Asher married his high school sweetheart, Sylvia, and they have been together for 56 years. He graduated from Princeton University in 1963, Cornell Law School in 1966 and then served two years in the U.S. Army as captain and commander of a Hawk missile battery in Korea.

When Asher came back to Long Island in 1969, he began practicing law with an emphasis in real estate, surrogate law, litigation and sports law for 36 years in Huntington.

“Huntington has great people,” he said. “All of my family still lives here. and I’ve made so many friends throughout the years.”

In 2004, Asher was elected to district court, where he tried numerous criminal matters and was the drug court judge for Suffolk County for two years. In 2010, he was elected justice of the state Supreme Court — a title he held up until he resigned in 2017 at age 76.

“I like to keep working,” he laughed. “I’m semiretired, but I like the idea of having something to do everyday.”

Asher said that throughout his time volunteering and working within Huntington, he was constantly told he should become grand marshal, but wasn’t able to as a sitting judge. 

Now it’s his time to shine. 

“I’m honored to have this bestowed onto me,” he said. “I’m moved by the whole thing, and I’m excited to be the Grand Marshal for the 86th Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

Greg Kennedy, his good friend and past president of Division IV of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, said that Asher was an immediate thought when the past grand marshals meet every year to decide who the next one will be.

“He’s a pillar to the community,” Kennedy said. “He’s someone that you would go to
for advice.”

While holding dozens of honors, titles and participating in plenty of philanthropy, Kennedy said that this is Asher’s time to represent Division IV. 

“It’s his time to lead us proudly down Main Street on March 8,” he said.

The Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 2 p.m. in Huntington Village March 8, rain or shine. The parade runs along Route 110 beginning slightly north of Broadway and makes a left on Route 25A to end by St. Patrick’s R.C. Church.