Holidays

Photo by Drew Biondo

Looking for a fun dessert to brighten up your holiday table this weekend? Why not go old school and make this blast from the past bunny cake? We printed this recipe back in 2016 but our readers had so much fun making it we thought we’d bring it back for an encore. Not only is this cake easy to make and delicious, but it is also fun for kids as they can help decorate and bring out their creative side. 

Devil’s Food Bunny Cake

INGREDIENTS:

1 and 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

white frosting (about 4 1/2 cups)

1 bag sweetened coconut flakes

red food coloring

assorted jellybeans

pink gel frosting

DIRECTIONS:

Sift the flour with soda, salt and sugar. Soften the butter. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup milk to the butter. Mix to dampen flour and then beat for two minutes at medium speed. Add the vanilla, eggs, chocolate and 1/4 cup milk. Beat 1 minute longer. Pour the batter into two 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with paper. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove and cool on racks. 

Cut one cake into 3 parts, making two ears and a bow tie (see diagram). Assemble the other cake as the head. Frost the entire cake. Line the inside of the ears with pink gel frosting. Tint 1/4 cup coconut with red food coloring to make it pink. 

Sprinkle pink coconut in the centers of the ears and in the mouth area. Sprinkle white coconut over the rest of the cake. Use black jelly beans for the eyes and nose and assorted jelly beans on the tie. As a grand finale, add three whiskers on each side of the mouth with pink gel frosting.

Now who wants some cake?

A scene from the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick's Day in 2019. This year's parade has been postponed due to coronavirus. Photo by Kyle Barr

Local St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been postponed due to ongoing concerns of the spread of coronavirus. Some of these local events have not had to cancel a parade in their multi-decade lifetimes.

The reports of cancellations came through after a March 12 Suffolk County press conference, where county Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county health commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said it would be safer for all parades taking place on the 14th and 15th to postpone their events.

The New York City parade, which often draws thousands upon thousands in crowds, also announced March 11 it would postpone its parade. It was the first time in more than 250 years that the parade has been cancelled.

The Friends of St. Patrick, the nonprofit organization that puts on the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade, announced it would be postponing the 70th annual 3-mile parade, which was originally scheduled for March 15. 

“We want to thank all of our sponsors and participants for their continuing support of the parade,” the Friends posted to Facebook. “While the Friends of St. Patrick are naturally disappointed to have to make this decision, it is the right decision. We know how important the event is to our community and the decision was not made lightly. We will be back bigger and better than ever at our next parade and will celebrate twice as much next time.”

James McElhone, the treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick, said the organization would be holding a meeting the night of March 12 to discuss if the date would be pushed to later or if it would be safer to wait until next year.

“This is the first time in 70 years we’ve had to do this,” McElhone said. “Then again for New York City, it’s the first time in over 200 years.

On Thursday morning, the St. James Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade also announced it would postpone “for a later date” over concerns of exposure. 

Despite the calls for postponement, the 30th annual Ronkonkoma St, Patrick’s Day Parade is, as of writing, still planned for March 22 along Hawkins Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma.

Suffolk officials said there are currently 16 confirmed cases within the county, with 49 others in mandatory quarantine and 76 others who are be in monitored in “cautionary quarantine,” having recently travelled.

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Every 10 years, the people at the head of the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade honor all the past community members who were lucky enough to be named grand marshal.

As the annual parade looks down the barrel of its 70th anniversary, the people who run the second oldest parade in Suffolk County have the task of respecting the past while looking to continue its run into the future.

The Friends of St. Patrick, a group of volunteers who have helped put on the parade for the last seven decades, hosted its third annual Luck of the Irish Casino Night March 6. During the group’s biggest yearly fundraiser, members said they were not only acknowledging the past, but trying to look toward the future.  

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help.”

— Hugh McCarrick

Unlike previous years when members would nominate a queen and her court, along with a grand marshal, this year members announced instead they would be supporting a local student with a $1,000 scholarship. 

“The applications for [the queen and her court] were going way down, and we were seeing it as sort of a bygone era,” said James McElhone, the recently installed treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick. “We decided to make it a scholarship that would be rotating between several local high schools to encourage people to write an essay on their Irish heritage.”

This year, Alexa Zichinelli, a senior at Miller Place High School, won with her essay about her Irish heritage, particularly of her great grandmother on her father’s side who came from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. 

Her grandmother often talks about that history, of when her own mother was in County Clare in Ireland. Zichinelli wrote about the Irish folklore her grandmother loves to talk about, along with the family she left behind.

“Going to where my great-grandmother was from in Ireland, she lived by these rocks that she described looked over a cliff, so it was just kind of magic, where she was from,” she said.

Zichinelli said she will put the scholarship to use, as she intends to go to college for premed, particularly on the path toward being a pediatric heart surgeon. 

Those who have been grand marshal in the past see the parade differently than most. It’s a tradition, yes, but it’s also been a way to celebrate and even define the North Shore communities along the Route 25A corridor. With 70 years of history, grand marshals have included noted community members like state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who was named grand marshal in 1989.

One family sticks out among those in the Rocky Point area. The McCarrick family owns property in the Rocky Point shopping district that once included the famed McCarrick’s Dairy before it closed in 2017 and later became a 7/11. Hugh McCarrick, one of the officers of the Friends of St. Patrick, said nine separate members of the McCarrick clan have been named grand marshal over the years. He and his brother Kevin, along with a slew of other past marshals, were both honored at the casino night March 6.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount.”

— Walter Colleran

Hugh McCarrick, who was named grand marshal in 1997, said going forward the objective is to make the parade more interesting every year, but with around 85 units in the parade this year, he added they are going strong. He thanked East Wind for hosting the fundraiser, which is easily its biggest of the year.

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help,” he said.

Mike Tatilian, a grand marshal in 2015 and past president of the Friends of St. Patrick, said times have changed and they are always trying to bring in flesh blood to help out. Nothing else says that times have changed in seven decades than the number of St. Patrick’s Day parades around Suffolk County. While the Huntington parade is in its 86th year, hamlets like Kings Park and Jamesport are celebrating only their 10th and seventh years, respectively, of the annual parade. Tatilian said they’re always trying to compete for spectators, of which the MP-RP parade usually gets 25,000-30,000 along its 3-mile run. 

“There’s competition — you’re competing for fans,” he said. “When there used to be a few parades, now there’s many.”

Walter Colleran was named grand marshal in 2013 and said 70 years means a lot to a parade, also helping to display how its changed.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount — [the parade] started out years ago as an opportunity for everybody to hang out on the street and drink beer, but over the years it’s turned into a very family-oriented affair.”

Stock photo

Visit participating restaurants throughout the Village of Port Jefferson for a taste of the green during the Luck of Irish Breakfast Crawl on Saturday, March 14 from 9 a.m. to noon.

This year’s theme is ‘Luck of the Irish’ and each local purveyors (17 participating locations) will provide food and/or drinks to a taste of Ireland! Come  enjoy Bangers, Irish Tea, Rashers, and more and shop at the local retailers for special offers/discounts! Look out for the large shamrocks displayed on their window. *Provided by the Port Jefferson Retailers Association*

Rain date is March 21. Tickets are $30. TICKET PICK-UPS are at the Port Jefferson Chamber Office, 118 West Broadway, Port Jefferson.

Hours for pick-up: Monday – Friday 10:30am – 5pm

**Each ticket holder is allowed one tasting per participating purveyor and will need to get their ticket stamped at each stop they visit.**

To purchase, call 631-473-1414 or email: [email protected]

Sponsored by Pro-Port Restaurant Group and the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

Walt Whitman Birthplace, 246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station presents an afternoon of Irish dancing on March 1 at 1 p.m. Children of all ages will enjoy an interactive performance by the Mulvihill-Lynch Studio dancers who will answer questions and teach some Irish dance steps. Followed by a guided tour of the museum. $9 per child, chaperones free. Visit www.waltwhitman.org or call 631-427-5240.

The George Washington portrait. Image from Vanderbilt Museum

CENTERPORT: The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is displaying two artifacts in honor of Presidents Day, Feb. 17 – an oil portrait of George Washington and a letter to the mayor of New York City from Abraham Lincoln. The pieces are on view in the main hallway of the Vanderbilt Museum Nursery Wing through the end of February.

President Lincoln wrote the letter to Fernando Wood, then mayor of New York City, just after the start of the Civil War on May 4, 1861. Wood (1812-1881), who built a successful shipping enterprise in New York City, served several terms in Congress and was mayor of New York for two terms, 1854-58 and 1860-62.

The letter was in response to a letter Wood wrote to Lincoln shortly after the Fort Sumter attack, offering him whatever military services he, as mayor, could provide. Lincoln’s reply to Wood was in gratitude for his offer of assistance.

The Vanderbilt Museum Curatorial Department has no record of how this letter came to be in William Vanderbilt II’s possession. Originally, it may have been the property of his great-grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was an acquaintance of Wood, and could have been passed down through the Vanderbilt family.

The Vanderbilt’s framed oil portrait of George Washington, though unsigned and undated, was believed to have been painted by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), widely considered one of America’s foremost portrait artists. 

Stuart produced portraits of more than 1,000 people, including the first six presidents of the United States. He painted a number of Washington portraits. The most celebrated is known as the “Lansdowne” portrait (1796), and one large-scale version of it hangs in the East Room of the White House. 

Stuart’s best-known work is an unfinished portrait of Washington begun in 1796 and sometimes called “The Athenaeum.” This image of Washington’s head and shoulders is a familiar one to Americans — it has appeared for more than a century on the U.S. one-dollar bill.

The Vanderbilt’s Washington portrait, found in the basement of the Suffolk County Welfare Department Home in Yaphank, was restored and presented to the Vanderbilt Museum in 1951. While the artist did not sign the work, a specialist reported that year that the painting was an authentic Gilbert Stuart.

In 1981, however, two curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art studied the portrait and advised the board of trustees that the work was not created by Stuart. As a result, the portrait, oil on panel and measuring 21.25 by 33.5 inches, is described in the archival records as “After Gilbert Stuart.” The curators’ closest estimate was that the painting was made sometime in the 1800s.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. Winter hours for the museum, mansion and grounds are Saturdays and Sundays from 11:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. with special winter recess hours from Feb. 17 to 21 from 11:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Photo courtesy of WMHO

Here are some fun and educational ways for your kids to enjoy winter break:

Benner’s Farm

Ever wonder what it’s like to be on a real working farm in the winter? Kids ages 7 to 14 can enjoy winter break at Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, E. Setauket on Feb. 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn how to make maple syrup, help care for the animals and more. Snacks provided. Bring lunch. $60 per day, $100 for both days. To register, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.bennersfarm.com.

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor will hold several winter break events from Feb. 17 to 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Make snow that won’t melt, make homemade ice cream and create slippery, sticky slime. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 kids ages 3 to 12. Call 516-692-6768.

Huntington Historical Society

Kids in grades 1 to 6 can join the Huntington Historical Society at the Conklin Barn, 2 High St., Huntington for a variety of hands-on history activities, including learning traditional weaving techniques and Presidents Day-themed crafts, games and activities on Feb. 17 and 18 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Campers will go home with a piece of their very own hand-woven fabric. Fee is $35 per day. Call 631-427-7045.

Smithtown Historical Society 

Enjoy February break with the Smithtown Historical Society,  239 E. Main St., Smithtown from Feb. 18 to 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Enjoy a different theme each day including Kaleidoscope Fun, Mid Week Mardi Gras, Snow Day and National Biscuit Day. Fee is $30 per day. To register, call 631-265-6768.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

From Feb. 17 to 20 from 10 a.m. to noon children in grades K through 3 can take part in several workshops at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Learning Center, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. Participants will take tours of the museum’s collections and then create a related craft including an owl diorama, animal portrait and a mixed-media deep-sea collage. $20 per child. To register, call 631-843-5539.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization

On Feb. 18 to 20 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook hosts a Puppet Making workshop for ages 6 to 11 with acclaimed artist Liz Joyce ($100 for all three days) and Music Mornings with Johnny Cuomo for ages 3 to 5 ($85 for all three days, $30 per day). To register, call 631-751-2244.

Stock photo

By Heidi Sutton

Chocolate, roses, heart-shaped notes — what’s not to like about Valentine’s Day? This sweet celebration, which happens every year on February 14, is all about spreading the love. Still don’t have plans for this special day? Check out these 14 events happening right in our own backyard.

1. Paint Night at Muse 

Muse Paintbar, 134 Main St., Harbor Square Mall, Port Jefferson will host a Paint Night from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Painting of the night will be ‘Lover’s Notch.’ $35 per person. Call 631-938-7800 to reserve your spot.

2. Williams Honor in concert

Join the Northport Arts Coalition for its Starlight Coffeehouse concert featuring Williams Honor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 270 Main St., Northport at 7:30 p.m. Comprised of singer/songwriter Reagan Richards and songwriter/producer Gordon Brown, the group is the Jersey Shore’s first ever country duo. Doors open and open mic sign up is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at www.northportarts.org, $20 at the door.

3. Beatles love songs

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown welcomes The Cast of Beatlemania in concert at 8 p.m. Enjoy the most famous love songs written by the Beatles. Bring a date for this beautiful Valentine’s Day performance. Tickets are $50. Call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org to order.

4. An evening of jazz

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook presents “Here’s to the Ladies!” featuring The Jazz Loft All Stars, with Ray Anderson, on trombone; Tom Manuel on cornet/vocals; Peter Coco on bass; Steve Salerno on guitar; and Chris Smith on drums. Two performances will be held – one at 6 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m. The venue will supply the live jazz music, champagne and chocolate. You supply the romance. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, and $30 for students. To order, call 631-751-1895 or visit www.thejazzloft.org.

Photo from CAC

5. ‘Casablanca’ at the CAC

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. The Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington invites all lovebirds and lonelyhearts to spend Valentine’s Day with them revisiting a classic, “Casablanca,” at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person, $15 members and includes a reception with champagne and chocolate-covered sweets. Call 631-423-7610 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org to order.

6. WinterTide concert 

The Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson presents a groovy Valentine’s Day concert with the Grand Folk Railroad from 7:30 to 9 p.m. as part of its WinterTide series. Free. Questions? Call 473-5220 or visit www.gpjac.org.

7. Grounds and Sounds concert

Grounds and Sounds Cafe, UUFSB, 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket hosts a concert featuring Martin Swinger at 8 p.m. With a three octave vocal range and a talent for writing award-winning songs, Swinger is a veteran of 40 years of performing award-winning original songs, traditional and contemporary Americana music as well as swing and jazz standards. Tickets are $15 per person, available in advance at www.groundsandsounds.org or at the door. For more information, call 631-751-0297.

8. An evening with Sal ‘The Voice’

The Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead presents an evening of wine, song, and the flawless vocals of Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti at 8 p.m. Influenced by the classic crooner sounds of Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, Valentinetti took the nation by storm on America’s Got Talent. Tickets are $65 per person. To order, call 727-4343 or visit www.suffolktheater.com.

Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

9. ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

Catch the 8 p.m. performance of “Million Dollar Quartet” at the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport. The popular show, now extended to March 8, features a treasure trove of hits from Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley including  “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk The Line,” “Hound Dog,” “Who Do You Love?” and “Great Balls of Fire.” Tickets are $75 per person. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

10. Valentine Challenge 

Harmony Vineyards, 169 Harborview Road, Head of the Harbor presents a Valentine Challenge at 8 p.m. Lovers, friends and wine drinkers are invited to join them for a fun night of trivia, charades, puzzles and a whole lot more! No more than 4 to a group. Winners will receive a bottle of wine and a gift card. Photo booth and surprises! Free admission. Email [email protected] or call 631-291-9900 to sign up!

11. HeARTS for ART

Fall in love with art at the HeARTS for ART Valentine’s Day event at the Heckscher Museum, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick up a heart and explore the art in the Museum. Fall in love with a piece of art! If you like, decorate your heart however you wish — write your name, the name of the artwork or artist, or describe what made you fall in love. Snap a photo of your heart placed beneath your artwork crush, post it to your favorite social media site, and make sure to tag with #heckschermuseum and #heartsforart. The Museum will repost select photos on social media! Free with museum admission. Call 631-351-3250.

12. Comedy with Ron White

Comedian Ron “Tater Salad” White, who first rose to fame as the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour phenomenon, heads to the Paramount, 370 New York Huntington at 7 p.m. Over the past 15 years, White has been one of the top grossing stand up comedians on tour in the country. For ticket information, call 631-673-7300 or visit www.paramountny.com.

13. Valentine dinner dance

Time to put on your dancing shoes! East Wind Long Island, 5720 Route 25A, Wading River presents a Be My Valentine Dinner Dance in the Grand Ballroom from 7 to 11 p.m. Enjoy a four hour premium open bar, live DJ music and a four course dinner including heart shaped ravioli and surf and turf. $69.95 per person for table for two seating. For reservations, call 631-929-6585.

14. Tribute to Buddy Holly 

The Bellport Playhouse, 215 S. Country Road,  Bellport presents “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at 8 p.m. featuring over 20 of buddy holly’s greatest hits including “That’ll Be The Day,” ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Everyday’, ‘Oh Boy’, ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Rave On’ and ‘Raining In My Heart’, plus Ritchie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’ and the Big Bopper’s ‘Chantilly Lace’. For tickets, call 631-286-1133 or visit www.thegateway.org.

 

A crowd of several hundred spectators booed and groaned as Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman’s prognostication was read at the Holtsville Ecology Site on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. At 7:25 a.m., Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley announced Holtsville Hal, the groundhog, had seen his shadow when he awoke Sunday morning, meaning six more weeks of winter for residents in the Town of Brookhaven.

While Nassau County’s fellow woodchuck, Malverne Mel, agreed with Hal, neither Staten Island Chuck, upstate’s Dunkirk Dave or Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, saw their shadows.

According to the peculiar Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after emerging from his burrow on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early. 

Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro, who was not able to attend the event this year, issued a statement on Monday. “I’m always hopeful Holtsville Hal will not see his shadow and assist with my snow removal budget,” he said. “However, if Hal’s prediction proves to be correct, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to send our way.”

After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels and hot chocolate and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks, a black bear and buffalo.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out and take part in this fun, annual tradition, including Councilman Neil Foley, who was the honorary Mayor for the Day, as well as the Holtsville Fire Department, 7-Eleven, Bagel Lovers, WBLI and Max 103.1 FM,” said Losquadro.

All photos by Kristen D’Andrea/ Town of Brookhaven Highway Dept.