Holtsville Hal’s handler, Greg Drossel, introduces Hal to the crowd during a previous celebration. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Six more weeks of winter or an early spring? On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Town of Brookhaven Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro will announce Holtsville Hal’s famous forecast in a virtual ceremony to stream live on Facebook from the Holtsville Ecology Site.

According to tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after stirring from hibernation on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early. Hal’s forecast will be revealed at approximately 7:25 a.m. 

“Our annual Groundhog Day celebration is an enjoyable tradition for many local families,” Superintendent Losquadro said. “While we are disheartened that we will not be able to open the ceremony to members of the public this year due to potential COVID risks, families will still be able to see Holtsville Hal and learn of his prognostication.”

The online ceremony, which will begin at 7:15 a.m., can be viewed at and It will also be viewable on the Town of Brookhaven website,, throughout the day for those who miss the live stream.

File photo by Bob Savage

For the second year in a row, the Friends of St. Patrick have canceled the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day parade due to COVID-19 concerns. The announcement was made in a press release this week. “The safety of our marchers and supporters must take precedence over the joy the parade has been bringing to the North Shore of Brookhaven Town for over 70 years,” read the release. “We look forward to bringing the parade back, bigger and better than ever, in March 2022.”

John R. Buran, President and CEO, Flushing Bank (center) presents the light show tickets to Ray Hopp, Deputy Director, Colonial Youth & Family Services (fourth from left). Joining them were Mike Bingold, Senior EVP and Chief Retail and Client Development Officer, Flushing Bank (third from left); Thomas Buonaiuto, Senior EVP, Chief of Staff and Deposit Channel Executive, Flushing Bank (fourth from right); Samantha Soccorso, Youth Worker, Colonial Youth & Family Services (third from right); and Colonial Youth & Family Services volunteers Tommy Pirello (left), Trishelle Cattell (second from left), Philip Wildner (second from right), and Alexus Rountree (right).

Flushing Bank donated tickets for 25 carloads to the Smith Point Light Show, presented by the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, to Colonial Youth & Family Services. The presentation took place on December 18 at the Flushing Bank’s branch located at 1044 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley, NY. Members of Flushing Bank’s management team were joined by Ray Hopp, Deputy Director of Colonial Youth & Family Services. The tickets will be given to local families free of charge to brighten their holiday season.

“As a community bank, we recognize the importance of giving back and demonstrating our commitment to the communities we serve. We are new to the Suffolk County market, however because of our recent acquisition of Empire National Bank and its long-standing relationship with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, we are a proud sponsor of the Smith Point Light Show. Our sponsorship package included tickets for twenty-five carloads. Given what a tough year this has been for all of us, we wanted to spread a little holiday cheer to the children and families who could use it most,” said John R. Buran, President and CEO of Flushing Bank. “We are happy that the Colonial Youth & Family Services will be able to provide an opportunity for those in need to see this spectacular event.”

Toys collected by Exit Realty Island Elite
Photo from EXIT Eealty Island Elite

In gratitude for the support shown to EXIT Realty Island Elite by the local community, the real estate brokerage recently started collecting toys for the RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE and GIVE KIDS HOPE INC. charities for Jackson’s Toys Drive.

Before he lost his fight to cancer, Jackson asked his mother about whether the children spending their holidays in the hospital received gifts. He believed that no child should go without… that gift-giving was part of the healing process, a way to brighten up their stay and give them hope. Ever since, his mother has worked tirelessly to give throughout Long Island.

“We are proud to be partnered again with JACKSON’S TOY DRIVE, so that we can keep Jackson’s dream alive. The  support of the  local community has been phenonemal.  This year we  will have collected hundreds of toys! That will make a big difference during these challenging times ,” says Jason Furnari, Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty Island Elite located at 4699 Nesconset Highway, Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Station.  For more information, call 631-331-4000 or visit

In the photo: Rebecca Tripoli (center front) and Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci (center back) with Rebecca’s mother (Sara), father (Frank), grandparents, aunt, uncle and two cousins. Photo from Town of Huntington

Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci honored Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, on Monday, December 21, for raising $140 in donations to purchase supplies for families in local shelters.

 “Rebecca represents the best of the greater Huntington community. Not only did she selflessly think of others during the holiday season, which can be a tough time for many, especially those in need, but she did something about it and made an impact at our shelters and in the hearts of many across our community,” said Sup. Lupinacci as he presented a proclamation from the Huntington Town Board to Rebecca outside her home on Monday evening.

9-year-old Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, took up a collection to buy supplies for local shelters, raising $140. She researched local shelters’ websites, saw what they needed, made a list and went shopping.

“I felt grateful that my life was great, and I thought of the homeless people that had nothing. So I bought groceries to give them something,” said Rebecca, who purchased “fruit cups, ramen noodles, black beans, candy canes, pasta, canned vegetables, chicken soup, water and juice boxes, diapers, baby lotion, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream,” all of which was donated to Family Service League.

Rebecca’s mother Sara added that Rebecca knew candy canes weren’t on the list but she wanted to do something to make the children smile around Christmas, “Rebecca’s father and I really are proud that she came up with the idea to help people less fortunate than her. We talk about this together a lot, that there are people right here in our community and in her school that don’t have enough food to eat, or even a place to live. She has a big heart and also a lot of ambition, and decided to do something about it. We were really surprised and honored that Mr. Lupinacci came to our home and recognized her for her work. It was an exciting day for us all!”

On the morning of Wednesday, December 16, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci joined Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald at Macy’s in Huntington Station with Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as they picked up Toys for Tots donations collected in their annual drive coordinated by Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco.

“Before all the snow started on Wednesday, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero picked up the Toys for Tots donations at Huntington Town Hall and Macy’s at Walt Whitman Shops. Thank you to  Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco, Staff Sergeant Caballero and all who donated to make Christmas merrier for many of our less fortunate children!” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci.

Since 1947, the Marine Corps Reserve has been making Christmas wishes come true for needy children with their Toys for Tots campaign. Toys for Tots on Long Island makes a difference in the lives of less fortunate children in our communities. The Town of Huntington is partnering again this year with the Marine Corps Reserve hosting Toys for Tots donation boxes at Town Hall and other Town facilities.

In the photos: At Macy’s (Walt Whitman Shops), Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci joins Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve led by Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero; At Huntington Town Hall, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco with U.S. Marine Corps Reserve led by Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero.

Town of Brookhaven's Youth Bureau head Josephine Lunde, along with Centereach resident and matriarch of the donation drive EJ's PJs Patricia Poggi stand among the hundreds of pajamas donated for children who need them. Photo from Poggi

Ten years on, and a Centereach family and friends are still donating pajamas for kids to warm themselves during the holiday months. This year, despite the pandemic, has been their biggest drive yet.

Hundreds of pajamas were donated to the Town of Brookhaven’s INTERFACE program to help give kids that warm holiday feeling on these cold nights. Photo from Patricia Poggi

The Centereach Poggi family, which includes mom Patricia and her three sons, started EJ’s PJs in 2011 when the mother’s brother asked her two older sons, Edward and Jeremy, to find a charity to donate to instead of giving them gifts. 

“Because we always wore ‘Poggi plaid’ pajamas on Christmas morning, we came up with the concept to start our own pajama drive so that clouds would be able to feel warm, comfy and cozy and have a fresh pair or brand new pajamas feeling,” Patricia Poggi said.

Her youngest son, Patrick, was 1-years-old when it got started, and now he is 11, having grown up participating in the drive.

At first, their drive included just a single bin on the front porch of the Poggi residence, but now with the support of many local shops throughout Brookhaven, EJ’s PJs has ramped up to include 22 drop off boxes all throughout the town. 

Last year, I started getting into a few businesses to help us in hopes that our 10th year would get us to our highest and it did,” Patricia Poggi said.

Jeremy Poggi, a student at Centereach High School, helped facilitate work with one of the school clubs to generate extra donations. 

“This year was easily our biggest year,” he said. 

And in a year of COVID, when more and more people are struggling financially, such generosity is felt even moreso.

“We are thankful for the support of our new and existing partners who are committed to make this 10th year our biggest pajama drive yet,” Messina wrote in an email. “In a year where the world has been turned upside down, we are grateful to be able to do our small part with the community’s assistance to provide a warm and cozy pair of pajamas to children and teens in need.”

'Isolation' by Doug Reina

The Long Island Museum (LIM) in Stony Brook has announced that they will be holding their annual LIMarts Art exhibition virtually. 

Every Day: Transforming Crisis into Art will be online from Dec. 18 until Feb. 14, 2021. The 7th annual exhibition by members of the Museum’s collaborative arts group, LIMarts will be presented on the Museum’s website and across LIM’s social media. 

“2020 has been a year like no other,” said Neil Watson, Executive Director of the Long Island Museum. “The LIMarts exhibition has always been a year-end highlight of the LIM. While we will miss the excitement of gathering in the gallery this year with local artists, the LIM is committed to continuing to bring the community together through the arts by offering this virtual experience.” 

‘Isolation’ by Doug Reina

Over 70 LIMarts members have used their creativity and talent and submitted their artwork that answers the questions “What has your every day looked like? How has it changed? How have you been spending your time? Has every day been the same or are you finding ways to make your days feel different? What have you been doing to cope or perhaps you’re not just coping but thriving?”  

The LIMarts collaborative arts group embraces the goal to enhance and support the rich artistic talent on Long Island. Designed for artists dedicated to creating a new forum within our cultural community, LIMarts offers space for the exhibition and sale of artwork, varied programming events, lectures and opportunities for social gathering with other artists and the public.  

Doug Reina, an LIMarts member and frequent participant of the Museum’s previous exhibitions will be presenting his artwork, Isolation. Reina, a local artist from Setauket who recently received his second Pollock-Krasner grant, is enthused about the online exhibition. “Bravo to the LIM for putting this virtual show together! Using art as a way to connect us is needed now more than ever,” he said. 

Presented artwork that is listed for sale will be handled by the individual artist and not by the Museum. The LIM is sensitive to the current circumstances faced by artists during these challenging times and is committed to supporting them and the arts community, therefore all proceeds will support the individual artists and the Museum will not retain a commission.  

For more information on LIMarts membership or if interested in purchasing any of the artwork that is listed for sale, please contact Alexandria D’Auria at [email protected] To view the gallery of art go to the homepage of and follow the links to the exhibition.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

In case you haven’t noticed, the ongoing theme of my recent columns has been coping with and compensating for COVID restrictions while celebrating the holidays. So here I go again. I believe that whether you’re alone or with just your immediate family (and I do hope for your sake and everyone else’s that it won’t be more than that), you should make the holiday as merry as you can. 

A great way to do that for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner is to carry out the red and green theme in as many dishes as possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be festive. I’m thinking that spinach lasagna rollups might do the trick paired with a butter lettuce and arugula salad with bell pepper confetti and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Then for dessert, how about a parfait of pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream with fresh raspberry sauce? These are just a few ideas. Raid your refrigerator, shop early and come up with your own red and green Christmas dishes.

Spinach Lasagna Rollups

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped basil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the rollups:

Nonstick cooking spray

12 lasagna noodles (not no-boil)

One 16-ounce container ricotta cheese

Half a 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and all liquid squeezed out

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups(or more) tomato sauce to taste

1 cup shredded mozzarella


In a medium saucepan warm oil over medium heat; add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they become transparent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons water and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F; coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain, then lay out in baking pan.

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking pan spread ricotta mixture evenly along each noodle, then top with a thin layer of tomato sauce and carefully roll up; place seam side down evenly in baking dish and spoon remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until they are heated through, sauce is bubbly and mozzarella has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with arugula and butter lettuce salad.

Arugula and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


1 large bunch arugula, washed and stems removed

1head butter lettuce or Boston lettuce

6 radishes, cleaned and cut into matchstick-size strips

1/2 cup fresh or bottled pomegranate juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Seeds from half a pomegranate

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced


In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, lettuce and radishes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegars, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and diced peppers. Serve immediately at room temperature with lasagna rollups.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1 1/2 cups


3/4 pound fresh raspberries, picked over

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

1/2 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar dissolves, raspberries fall apart and sauce bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate or serve warm over pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream accompanied by Christmas cookies.