Holidays

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will light the tree on Dec. 1.

Centereach

The Centereach Civic Association invites the community to its annual tree lighting on the lawn of Capital One Bank, 2100 Middle Country Road, Centereach on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. Enjoy caroling, hot cocoa, candy canes and a visit from Santa. Rain/snow date is Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. 

Cold Spring Harbor

Santa Claus will light the Christmas tree at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. Cookies, tea and hot chocolate will be served. $10 suggested donation. Call 516-692-6768 for further information.

Holtsville

The Town of Brookhaven will host its annual tree lighting at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on Friday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. Enjoy entertainment, hot chocolate and character strolling while waiting for Santa to arrive by helicopter. Call 631-451-6100.

Kings Park

The Kings Park Chamber of Commerce will host a tree lighting at Veterans Plaza, 1 Church St., Kings Park on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Lake Ronkonkoma

Celebrate with a tree lighting at Raynor Park, Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma on Dec. 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. Hosted by the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-963-2796 for further details.

Mount Sinai

Heritage Park, 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road, Mount Sinai invites the community to the annual lighting of its community tree on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. With hot chocolate, a performance by the Mount Sinai Middle School Jazz Choir and a visit from Santa. Call 631-509-0882.

Nesconset

Join the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce for its annual tree lighting at Gazebo Park, 127 Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Call 631-724-2543 for details.

Port Jefferson

Join Danford’s Hotel at Bayles Park on East Broadway in Port Jefferson for its 3rd annual tree lighting on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. Featuring live holiday music, hot chocolate and holiday cookies. Call 631-928-5200 for more information.

Port Jefferson Station

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual tree lighting at the Chamber Train Car, corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments and a visit from Santa. Call 631-821-1313.

St. James

Enjoy holiday music, pictures with Santa and light the BIG tree on the great lawn of Deepwells Farm County Park, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. Hosted by St. James Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-584-8510.

Stony Brook

Santa arrives at the Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main St., Stony Brook on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. atop the Stony Brook Fire Department’s 3000-light float for the annual tree lighting ceremony on the Village Green. Call 631-751-2244.

Wading River

East Wind Long Island, 5720 Route 25A, Wading River invites the community to its annual tree lighting with Santa at The Shoppes on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. Call 631-929-3500.

Children enjoy last year's Menorah Lighting in Stony Brook. Photo by Peter DiLauro
Happy Hanukkah! Celebrate the Festival of Lights at the following events:

Centereach

The Centereach Civic Association invites the community to its annual menorah lighting on the lawn of Capital One Bank, 2100 Middle Country Road, Centereach on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. Rain/snow date is Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. Visit www.centereachcivic.org.

Dix Hills

The Chai Center, 501 Vanderbilt Parkway, Dix Hills will hold its annual outdoor grand menorah lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 5 starting at 4:30 p.m. Enjoy latkes, doughnuts, hot chocolate, music and a special performance by comic hypnotist Ronnie Baras. RSVP by calling 631-351-8672.

Farmingville

Join the Town of Brookhaven for a menorah lighting at Town Hall, One Independence Hill, Farmingville on Monday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. followed by entertainment, hot latkes and doughnuts in the second floor cafeteria. Call 631-451-6100 for more information.

Kings Park

The Kings Park Chamber of Commerce will host a menorah lighting at Veterans Plaza, 1 Church St., Kings Park on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Visit www.kingsparkli.com.

Lake Ronkonkoma

Celebrate the holidays with a menorah lighting at Raynor Park, Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma at Sunday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-963-2796 for further details.

Mount Sinai

Temple Beth Emeth will host the annual Heritage Trust Menorah Lighting at Heritage Park, 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Questions? Call 631-928-4103.

Nesconset

Join the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce for its annual menorah lighting at Gazebo Park, 127 Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Call 631-724-2543 for details.

Port Jefferson Station

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will host its annual menorah lighting at the Chamber Train Car, corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 5 p.m. Rabbi Aaron Benson of North Shore Jewish Center will perform the blessings/prayer for the first night of Hanukkah. Call 631-821-1313.

St. James

The community is invited to the St. James 2018 menorah lighting ceremony at The Triangle, Route 25A and Lake Ave., St. James from Dec. 2 to 9 at 5:30 p.m. (Friday night lighting at 4:30 p.m.) Call 631-584-8510.

Stony Brook

Join Chabad at Stony Brook for a Hanukkah on Main Street celebration at the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, 48 Main St., Stony Brook on Monday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with latkes, donuts, giveaways, a fire juggling show and music followed by the lighting of a menorah. Call 631-585-0521.

The society’s Conklin House is decked out for the Historical Holiday House Tour on Dec. 2. Photo from Huntington Historical Society

By Heidi Sutton

A beloved tradition returns to the Town of Huntington as the Huntington Historical Society gears up for its 13th annual Historical Holiday House Tour this weekend. Five gracious homeowners from Huntington Village, Lloyd Neck, Cold Spring Harbor and Lloyd Harbor will open their festively decorated homes on Sunday, Dec. 2, from noon to 4 p.m.

The yearly fundraiser “helps us with our mission of preserving Huntington’s history for future generations,” said Huntington Historical Society’s Executive Director Tracy Pfaff Smith in a recent interview.

After visiting the private homes, Pfaff Smith encourages ticketholders to visit the historical society’s 1795 Dr. Daniel Kissam House Museum at 434 Park Ave., featuring a gorgeous lace exhibit titled Poetry in Thread, and the 1750 David Conklin Farmhouse Museum at 2 High St. Both properties will be decorated for the season.

“The Conklin Barn will have its usual scrumptious array of refreshments, and the much-loved Antiques and Collectibles Shop on the Kissam property will be open and fully stocked with unique gift items,” said Pfaff Smith, adding that the Arsenal (1740), located directly across the street from the Kissam property, will also be open for tours. Managed by the Town of Huntington, “The Arsenal is rarely open [to visitors] so this is a special occasion,” she said.

Advance tickets are $35 for members and $40 for nonmembers. A tour map with house locations will be available at the society’s Trade School building at 209 Main St. If available, remaining tickets will be sold the day of the event at the Conklin Barn for $40 for members and $45 for nonmembers.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 631-427-7045, ext. 401, or visit www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

By Heidi Sutton

Barnaby, Santa and Franklynne in a scene from the show.

This weekend the Village of Port Jefferson will celebrate its 23rd annual Charles Dickens Festival. Among the many events to attend this year will be Theatre Three’s production of “Barnaby Saves Christmas.” Written 15 years ago by Douglas Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel, the adorable musical, with its wonderful score and dance numbers, is the perfect way for families with young children to kick off the holiday season.

It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole and Barnaby, the smallest elf in Elf School, is busy making a toy that Santa requested — a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest. When he realizes that Santa has left without it, he enlists the help of Franklynne, the littlest reindeer, to track down Santa and give the toy to him.

S.B. Dombulbury is up to his old tricks again!

During their adventures they meet Sarah and Andrew who teach them about Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights. They also bump into the sneaky S.B. Dombulbury and his henchperson Irma who are trying to ruin Christmas by stuffing all the chimneys with coal.

As director, Sanzel has assembled an outstanding cast to convey the story.

Eric Hughes returns for his third year as Barnaby, perfectly capturing his character as just wanting to fit in, and Michelle LaBozzetta tackles the role of Franklynne (It’s spelled with two n’s and a y — that makes it a girl’s name!) with just the right amount of spunkiness one would expect from a flying fawn. Andrew Lenahan is incredible in the dual role of Santa and Andrew, and Ginger Dalton is charming as both a slightly confused Mrs. Claus and Sarah.

Nicole Bianco and K.D. Guadagno play Crystal and Blizzard, two of Santa’s elves who are constantly hypnotized by S.B. Dombulbury to help him carry out his evil plan and at one point chase Barnaby and Franklynne through the audience like zombies in one of the funniest moments in the show. As a special treat, Jason Furnari, who originated the role of Barnaby, plays Sam the stressed-out head elf. However, it is the comedy tag team of Steven Uihlein as S.B. (spoiled brat) Dombulbury and Dana Bush as Irma that steal the show with their many antics. Their journey to redemption is heartfelt.

Santa’s elves, Barnaby, Sam, Blizzard and Crystal

The nine songs, accompanied by Quattrock on piano, are delightful, with special mention to “Miracles” and “Within Our Hearts.” The costumes, designed by Teresa Matteson and Toni St. John, are fun and festive as is the choreography by Bianco, and the special effects through the use of lighting is magical.

With the underlying message to “be the very best you can be,” “Barnaby Saves Christmas” is a beautiful story of hope, miracles and love. Don’t miss this one.

Souvenir elf and reindeer dolls will be available for purchase during intermission. Stay after the show for a photo with Santa Claus if you wish — the $5 fee goes to support the theater’s scholarship fund — and meet the rest of the cast in the lobby. Running time is one hour and 10 minutes with one intermission. Booster seats are available.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Barnaby Saves Christmas” through Dec. 29. Children’s theater continues with “Jack & the Beanstalk” from Jan. 19 to Feb. 23. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky

Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky. Photo by Donna Newman

I like Christmas. There, I said it. This may be surprising for some people to hear from a rabbi, and it may be misinterpreted by others. But it’s true. I like the feeling of this time of year. I enjoy the songs, the lights, watching Charlie Brown and the Grinch and especially the sense of good will that exists.

I also like Hanukkah. I enjoy the gathering of family and friends, eating latkes (fried potato pancakes), lighting the Hanukkah menorah (9-branched candelabrum), playing dreidel (a spinning top game) and feeling a sense of warmth and light in the coldest, darkest time of the year.

But my enjoyment of both holidays does not mean that I see them in the same way. It does not mean that I view Hanukkah as the Jewish Christmas. While I can enjoy aspects of both holidays, I am keenly aware of the need for both Christians and Jews to maintain a distinction between the two holidays, while also embracing a healthy respect for and appreciation of the practices of the other’s religion. And this begins, I am convinced, with a full understanding of what both holidays celebrate.

It is not for me to expound on the true meaning of Christmas. My Christian colleagues are much more equipped to do so. But I do know that the true religious significance of Christmas has little to do with trees and presents, songs and holiday foods. While these are lovely ways to enhance the enjoyment of a holiday, they should not replace the spiritual lessons taught.

By the same token, Hanukkah, which I am qualified to write about, is not about spinning tops, fried foods and gift giving, though these are all fun customs. It is about the story of a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, well over 2,000 years ago, winning the right to practice their religion freely, symbolized by the rededication of the holy Temple (“Hanukkah” means “dedication”). This episode has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, and only happens to fall at the same season because it was common to hold festivals of light at this time of the year. Hanukkah is a stirring story of freedom, but it nonetheless remains a minor festival in the Jewish calendar. Its elevation to a level of such prominence is due solely to the fact that it is marketed to compete with Christmas from a commercial standpoint. And this speaks to a problem in our society in general, as well as presenting a challenge for Christians, Jews and all people of faith alike.

I address this issue to a general audience, rather than specifically to my congregation, because I believe that it is important for all people of faith, whatever their religion or heritage, to reclaim the true meaning of their holy days. Rather than falsely seeking to unite ourselves through the idol of materialism, focusing on the trappings of the various holidays, let us instead form a true bond with one another by each celebrating our respective holy days and recognizing their real significance. By doing so, we strengthen our own religious conviction and are then able to enjoy the beauty and teachings of other faiths without feeling that our own faith is undermined.

I, for one, am opposed to calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree. I am opposed to Christians feeling pressured to water down their religious beliefs because others may feel offended. But I am also opposed to anyone who mistakes proud displays of faith with the right to impose such faith on others. Celebrating Christmas, or any holy day, should be encouraged, as long as it is done with the understanding that we all choose to practice, or not practice, our faith in different ways.

Ironically, for me, Christmas helps reinforce the true message of Hanukkah, just as the true message of Hanukkah, I believe, strengthens the celebration of Christmas. We are so fortunate in our community and country to have the freedom to worship and celebrate freely. May we appreciate this freedom by expressing ourselves appropriately, while also embracing those of other faiths who choose to do the same, but in a different way. By so doing, we will truly find warmth and light at this season.

Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky is a rabbi at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.

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Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Santa Parade Nov. 24 starting from Port Jeff train station and running all the way down Main Street. Kids raced after candy thrown from vehicles and greeted Santa as he arrived while members of both the Marchand School of Dance and Shine Dance Studios showed off their routines to the sounds of classic Christmas tunes. Casts of “The Nutcracker” from the Harbor Ballet Theatre and “A Christmas Carol” from Theatre Three showed up in costume as well.

New York City Ballet’s Brittany Pollack and Daniel Ulbricht are this year’s special guests. Photo courtesy of New York Dance Theatre

New York Dance Theatre, under the direction of former New York City Ballet soloist Frank Ohman, will present its 37th season of “The Nutcracker” at Hofstra University, 1000 Hempstead Turnpike, Hempstead, on Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16 with performances each day at noon and 5 p.m. 

Special guest artists Daniel Ulbricht and Brittany Pollack of New York City Ballet return to perform as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier.   

Over the years, Frank Ohman has created original dances and scenes that have been incorporated into the ballet, but as a former student and soloist under George Balanchine he is one of a select few authorized to use the original pas de deux choreography of his mentor. Ohman will continue his tradition of playing the role of the grandfather in the party scene that opens the ballet.

The role of Clara’s mysterious godfather Herr Drosselmeier will be played by former New York City Ballet soloist Robert Maiorano.   

With the elegant Christmas party scene, the drama of the magical growing Christmas Tree, the Battle of the Toy Soldiers and Giant Mice, the live Snow Storm and the brilliant dancing in the Land of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” appeals to all ages.

In all, a cast of 80 children, preprofessional and professional dancers will bring this classic story ballet to life on the stage of the university’s John Cranford Adams Playhouse. The children’s roles are performed by students of the Frank Ohman School of Ballet in Commack, representing a variety of towns in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Tickets for this full production ballet are $42 adults, $32 seniors and children 12 and under. To order, visit  www.ohmanballet.org or call 631-462-0964. 

The threat of rain may have dampened activities, but hundreds bundled up to watch the 9th annual Huntington Holiday Parade Nov. 24.

Huntington Town officials called off the afternoon festivities as weather forecasters predicted a freezing rain would start sometime in the afternoon. Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) decreed the parade would happen, rain or shine.

Luckily umbrellas were not needed as highly decorated floats and parade marchers proceeded from the Big H Shopping Center on New York Avenue to Main Street, winding its way along West Neck Road, east on Gerard Street before ending on Wall Street for the annual tree lighting.  The most anticipate, at least by children, were Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus who arrived in Huntington Village at the end of the parade.

Click through the photos above to see the photos from the festive performance and parade. 

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Midterm elections are complete. We need to continue to stand up and give voice to social justice and human rights for all. Those we have elected and re-elected are there to serve us, “We the People,” not special interests, not a particular party but all of us. We have a responsibility to hold those who hold public office to serious accountability. They need to support the issues that are most important to the constituents they represent.

As the holiday season approaches, we need to put the divisive, disrespectful rhetoric of this past election season behind us. Let us look for new ways to build bridges with our differences instead of building walls. Let us engage in conversations that are inclusive and life-giving. Even if after the conversation is complete we agree to disagree, let us still embrace a spirit of respect for one another and keep the door open to new conversations that can make our communities better and stronger.

For Thanksgiving, I am forever grateful to our community. In our diversity is also the foundation of our greatness. I have seen firsthand this community build strong bridges that transcend racial, religious, social, political and economic issues; we are better for these bridges.

We’re not perfect, but in our imperfection we continue to feed the poor, to provide shelter and support for the homeless and to afford mental health services for those who are overwhelmed with life and so much more.

Our local hospitals, our fire departments, our ambulance services are on call 24/7 to respond to any kind of human trauma and/or tragedy. They are among the most compassionate and giving people I have ever been privileged to know; their self-sacrifice and service to others is an inspiration.

Our local schools are among the best in the state and probably the nation. Maryhaven Center of Hope is a historical landmark within our community. For more than 100 years, its compassionate and comprehensive services have provided invaluable support for the most vulnerable among us.

We are blessed to have a wide range of religious traditions actively engaged in our larger community, reminding us regularly of the importance to love, to forgive and to be generous to those in need without judgment or exclusion. Our religious leaders have consistently been an invaluable source of wisdom and support for our diverse community.

As I get ready to celebrate my 39th Thanksgiving in Port Jefferson, I will especially give God thanks for our community that reminds me every day that hope lives and must be the anthem of our souls! I am forever grateful for our community’s warmth, generosity and service. A blessed Thanksgiving to all and thank you!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Heidi Sutton

The holiday season has arrived at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, and while adults can enjoy a performance of “White Christmas,” younger audiences can go see Ken Ludwig’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The adorable show runs through Dec. 30.

Directed by Christine Boehm, the play opens on a snowy Christmas Eve with Uncle Brierly (Tom Catt) reading Clement C. Moore’s classic poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the audience. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by Amos the mouse (Jae Hughes) who is in fact stirring, cookie dough that is, to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year.

Turns out that Amos and his best human friend Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo) were left off the Naughty or Nice list last year by Santa and didn’t receive any presents.

As they lament over their misfortune, an elf named Calliope (Lisa Naso) arrives to investigate. Seems a lot of children were left off the list last year, and Calliope enlists the help of Emily and Amos to prevent this from happening again. With only a few hours left until Christmas Day, the three set off on an airplane to the North Pole on a quest to find this year’s Naughty and Nice list and to save Christmas. When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they discover that a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Catt), with the help of his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), sold the children’s Christmas list to retailers last year and plans to do it again this year. Can they be stopped in time?

Hilarity ensues with a chase scene through the audience, a surprise appearance from Amos’ brother (the incredible Hughes in a dual role), an exciting sword fight, a special visit by Santa and even a little snow in the theater at the end with the underlying message to make life an adventure.

With a running time of approximately one hour with a 15-minute intermission, this action-packed family-friendly show is the perfect first introduction to live theater. Booster seats are available. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a holiday photo.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present Ken Ludwig’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” through Dec. 30 followed by Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” from Jan. 12 to Feb. 24. All seats are $15. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org