Kids

Analyzing Ötzi

Fifth-grade students from Cold Spring Harbor Central School District’s Lloyd Harbor Elementary School took part in a field trip to Cold Spring Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center’s Human Inheritance exhibition featuring Ötzi the Iceman on Jan. 6.

Students studied the 3-D replica of the 5,000-year-old mummy and learned how, through analysis of Ötzi’s stomach and intestines, many pollen types were revealed and studied to help scientists learn exactly when Ötzi died. 

Under the guidance of DNA Learning Center educator Megan Capobianco, the students studied pollen grains under the microscope and then went on a scavenger hunt, which included skulls dating back 6 million years, bacterial illnesses, eye color, blood type and more. The fifth-graders learned that not only pollen was found in Ötzi’s digestive system but also wild goat, red deer, plants and wheat. 

The DNA Learning Center is located at 334 Main St. in Cold Spring Harbor. Upcoming Ötzi the Iceman museum tours for the public include Feb. 8 at 9 a.m. and March 7 at 12:30 p.m. For more information, call 516-367-5170 visit www.dnalc.cshl.edu.

Photos courtesy of Karen Spehler/ CSHSD

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.

SONGS SAY SO MUCH

It was bittersweet as the Book Revue in Huntington said goodbye to Jeff Sorg on Jan. 23. The singer/songwriter hosted his last Toddler Time at the bookstore, after performing there for 16 years. While he will continue to write music, Sorg said he plans to spend some time traveling with his wife, who recently retired. Parents and children joined Sorg for songs, some dancing and a puppet show and then met his replacement, Noah Packard (pictured on the right with Sorg) who’s first day is on Feb. 20. Thank you Jeff for the joy you have brought to so many children over the years. You will be missed. 

Photos by Heidi Sutton

Master ice carver Rich Daly will create ice sculptures like the one above throughout Port Jefferson Village. Photo courtesy of Rich Daly

By Melissa Arnold

Now that the holidays are over and the excitement of the new year is beginning to fade, it can seem like the dull gray of winter will last forever. But there’s still plenty to enjoy in the colder months on Long Island, and Port Jefferson is pulling out all the stops to celebrate wintertime at its first Ice Festival next weekend.

Sponsored by the village’s Business Improvement District, the Ice Festival was inspired by a similar event held about nine years ago, said Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant.

“We’ve been looking at new ways to advertise the village beyond the holiday season, and one of our members, Marianna Ketcham, approached the board with the suggestion that we revisit the ice festival idea,” Garant said. “People come to Port Jeff because of its close proximity to the water — they want to visit the harbor and take a stroll. We wanted to create an upbeat, active event that would encourage people to come out in the winter as well.”

The village’s merchants were eager to jump on board, Garant said, with special event sales. The highly anticipated Mac and Cheese Crawl sold out weeks ago, but those lucky enough to get tickets will enjoy hot and cheesy pasta samples from 18 different eateries. Some will also offer mac and cheese for purchase throughout the weekend.

“I hope all those who come to visit and shop, realize how much we appreciate their support toward small businesses on Main Street USA,” said Port Jeff BID interim president, Roger Rutherford. “Make sure you find time to come down Port for the Ice Festival to take part in the many different festivities.”

Hop on a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy the village’s icy blue lights. Take part in some marshmallow toasting at the corner of Main and E. Broadway and meet costumed characters including your favorite ice princesses and snow friends. Then warm up with some ice skating at the RINX at Harborfront Park. Periodically throughout each day, professional skaters will entertain and share their expertise with live demonstrations. 

Of course, no ice festival would be complete without an ice sculpture or two, but Port Jefferson isn’t stopping there. They’ve invited New York’s only certified master ice carver, Richard Daly of Ice Memories Inc., to create dozens of brilliant, backlit works of art for the festival.

Each participating business will have an ice sculpture on their property with a theme they’ve chosen themselves. Keep an eye out for Baby Yoda, ice skates, a giant slice of toast and more.

Visitors will also have the chance to watch Daly work. He’ll do multiple live carvings throughout the weekend, including a four-person sleigh and a 3,000-pound throne that you can actually climb on (carefully!) for pictures. Don’t be surprised if he makes it look easy — the Mastic Beach resident earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 as the world’s fastest ice carver. To break the record, he created 60 sculptures in just two hours, 52 minutes and 12 seconds using 18,000 pounds of ice.

“The work that Rich does is just beautiful, and the sculptures will be incredible all lit up,” said Port Jefferson trustee Kathianne Snaden. “It’s unbelievable how he can create these complex works of art from a block of ice.”

Daly carved his first ice sculpture while in culinary school at Johnson and Wales University. He developed an immediate passion for the craft and was competing on a national level just six months later. “What’s not to like about getting to play with a chainsaw and a blowtorch?” joked Daly. “I can’t even tell you how many sculptures I’ve done in a year. I’ve lost count.”

Each sculpture for the Ice Festival will begin with a sketch. They’ll be carved from 300-pound blocks of crystal clear ice that are fused together by adding a little water. Daly is bringing 25,000 pounds of ice with him for the weekend, he said. 

“I’m looking forward to doing the live carving demonstrations,” he added. “It’s fun to be able to talk with people and answer questions while I work.” 

Ideally, the village is hoping for seasonally chilly weather and even some snow for the festival. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until the weekend of Feb. 22.

“It can be challenging to be innovative with our events, especially in colder weather, but the Ice Festival really captures the season,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great opportunity to increase foot traffic in the area and show everyone that Port Jeff is a great place to be regardless of the time of year.”

Port Jefferson’s Ice Festival will be held throughout the village on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join them for a weekend of winter fun! For further information, call 631-476-2363 or visit www.portjeffbid.com/ice-festival.

By Heidi Sutton

Excitement was in the air last Sunday as the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport presented the premiere of Disney’s Frozen Jr. The audience at the sold-out show was dotted with little Elsas dressed in blue-green gowns complete with crowns, necklaces and dolls all eagerly waiting for a glimpse of the snow queen. And believe me they were not disappointed. 

With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez with book by Jennifer Lee, the show is based on the 2018 Broadway musical version of Disney’s Frozen complete with all the same popular songs from the 2013 animated movie including “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?,” “For the First Time in Forever,” “Love Is an Open Door” and “Let It Go.” The result is a lovely morning of live theater. 

The story follows Elsa and Anna, two sisters who are princesses in the kingdom of Arendelle. The elder of the two, Elsa, was born with magical powers that allow her to control and create ice and snow. When she doesn’t know how to control her powers and accidentally hurts Anna, she becomes afraid and withdraws from the world, shutting out her sister in the process. Fast forward 10 years and it is time for Elsa to inherit the throne, but on coronation day her magic unintentionally causes Arendelle to be frozen in an eternal winter. When she is accused of sorcery, she flees into the mountains to hide. Can Anna help her sister and free Arendelle from this spell?

Directed and choreographed by Steven Dean Moore, the professional young cast, ranging in age from 10 to 17, do a fantastic job portraying this tale of true love. Along with Anna and Elsa, Kristoff the ice harvester, Sven the reindeer, Olaf the snowman, Prince Hans, the Duke of Weselton and Oaken who runs Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post also make an appearance.

A magical touch is the animated projections on a screen in the background depicting different locations in the Kingdom of Arendelle including the inside and outside of the castle, the snowy mountains and Elsa’s ice castle. Costumes, designed by Laura McGauley are perfect, from Princess Anna and Elsa’s pretty gowns to the furry vest and antlers for Sven. 

Catch this performance if you can – your little prince or princess will love you for it. Meet the cast in the lobby on your way out.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Frozen Jr. through March 1. All seats are $15. Children’s theater continues with Pinkalicious the Musical from March 28 to May 3. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

The cast: AnnaBelle Deaner, Raquel Sciacca, Ava Cahn, James Tully, Shannon Dugan, Mia Campisi, Rachel Zulawski, Katie Dolce, Olivia Freiberger, Lizzie Dolce, Amelia Freiberger, Caprice McGuckin, Shane McGlone, Justin Frank, Ryan McInnes, Max Lamberg, Meaghan M. McInnes, Casey Beltrani and Emma Sordi

All photos by Corinne Wight

GIVING BACK

During the holiday season, Suffolk Federal joined forces with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island and raised $5,932 for their Holidays for Kids Sake program. “Giving back and enriching our local communities is both a mission and a passion for Suffolk Federal,” said Ralph D. Spencer Jr., Suffolk Federal president and CEO. Pictured above, from left, Keith Miller, executive vice president and CLO at Suffolk Federal and BBBSLI president’s council member with Mark Cox, chief executive officer, BBBSLI. 

Photo from Suffolk Federal

By Heidi Sutton

One of Theatre Three’s most important offerings, in my opinion, is its children’s theatre series. Each show teaches a moral lesson — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be a bully — while introducing young audiences to live musical retellings of wonderful fairy tales including “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” “Hansel & Gretel” and its latest offering, “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today.” The adorable show opened last Saturday and runs through Feb. 22. 

While it follows the Brothers Grimm version closely, the story is used as a tool to teach “stranger danger” in a most effective way. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the musical centers around a little girl named Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, although everyone in town calls her Little Red Riding Hood because she always wears the red cape her Granny Beckett made for her. 

When her grandmother sends Little Red Riding Hood’s mother a letter complaining “no one ever comes to visit. I might as well get eaten by a wolf!,” Amanda and her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, head over the river and through the woods to bring her some Girl Scout cookies. Halfway there, Little Red Riding Hood tells her sisters to go back home because Nora is nursing a terrible cold. Now alone, she encounters a stranger (William “Billy” de Wolf) and commits a series of safety mistakes, placing her grandmother and herself in a dangerous situation.

Director Jeffrey Sanzel leads an adult cast of six who have the best time acting out this clever script.

Steven Uihlein serves as storyteller and does a terrific job introducing each scene, giving his own opinions and interrupting the show when he deems it necessary. Uihlein also plays numerous supporting roles, including a policeman, doctor and mailman.

Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast as Little Red Riding Hood, although she does love saying her long name a bit too much! Lol! Krystal Lawless tackles the challenging role of the forgetful Mrs. Temple with ease. Constantly mixing up her children’s names and attempting to make a cup of tea for Nora out of feathers, wrenches, sticky notes, etc. she draws the most laughs. 

Kyle Breitenbach has much fun in the role of the Wolf, who is all bark and no bite. Special effects make his stomach rumble and he is always asking the audience if they have any steak or a bone on hand. One of the best scenes is when the Wolf chases Granny Beckett around the bed, and when she steps away, he goes around many times more before he realizes she’s gone.

Michelle LaBozzetta has the most exhausting role in the show, skipping on stage as Blanche, turning the corner and reappearing as her twin sister Nora, hunched over and suffering from a cold. What a workout! LaBozzetta is so convincing that young children will not make the connection. 

But it’s Ginger Dalton as Granny Beckett who steals the show. Dripping with sarcasm, she pulls out all the stops to try to get her family to visit her and even fakes getting sick. Her solo, “Who’s at My Door?,” is superb.  

During the last 10 minutes of the show, the actors discuss the safety mistakes that Little Red Riding Hood made, including talking to strangers and giving out her grandmother’s address, and what she should have done instead.

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are fun and catchy, especially “Little Red Riding Hood” and the tap dance number “To Granny Beckett’s House We Go.”

The great story line, the wonderful songs and the important message it conveys makes this show a perfect reason to catch a performance. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today” is for ages 3 and up through Feb. 22. Children’s Theatre continues with “Hansel & Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from April 8 to 25 and “Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs” from May 23 to June 6. Tickets are $10 each. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Let it snow!

The Whaling Museum at Cold Spring Harbor  hosted a FrozenFest inspired by the ‘Frozen’ films on Jan. 19. Families with young children came from all over Long Island to attend the event which included a special visit with Elsa, a scavenger hunt, a snowball fight and a screening of the ‘Frozen’ movie. Participants also created crafts including Elsa’s crown and a snowflake wand. 

Photos by Heidi Sutton

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Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

Too cold outside? Then come in to the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave, Huntington for its annual free “Draw In’ WinterFest on Jan. 26 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy an array of art activities in the galleries including making a digital action painting while sipping hot cocoa, collage and paint your own masterpiece with artist Robyn Cooper and much more. First 50 children under age 10 will receive free art supplies! Call 351-3250 or visit www.heckschermuseum.org for more information.

East Northport Middle School invited sixth graders from Northport Middle School to view a Theatre Three theatrical touring production of “Class Dismissed: The Bullying Project” on Jan. 9.

Performers acted out scenarios to demonstrate that bullying, harassment and peer pressure can occur both inside and outside of school, including hallways, locker rooms, buses and even at home. Additionally, the production spoke about the influence social media has on one’s reputation, social cliques and rumors.

The production’s main message, however, was, “See it, say it, stop it.” The intention was to encourage students to stand up for each other to put an end to bullying. During a Q&A after the performance, the performers advised the middle school students to be upstanders rather than bystanders. “You really are the ones that can make a difference,” they said.

Theatre Three’s Educational Touring Company is available to come to your school or organization. For more information, call Marci at 631-928-9202.

Photos courtesy of the Northport-East Northport School District