File photo by Bob Savage

Residents and visitors can rent stand-up paddle boards at the Port Jefferson Village Center until October.

The village board of trustees recently approved East Main Street business Sunpaddle to provide rentals of the watersport boards at the harborfront park next to the community center off East Broadway this summer, after a trial period last year.

Sunpaddle is located on East Main Street. File photo
Sunpaddle is located on East Main Street. File photo

According to the board, the rentals will be available seven days a week, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., from May 28 to Sept. 5.

From that point through Oct. 1, the rentals would be on weekends only, but during the same business hours.

In an interview during last year’s trial period, village recreation director Renee Lemmerman had called it another way of “providing services for our residents to really use their harborfront” and a good way for families to exercise at the beach.

The system will benefit the village as well as Sunpaddle — according to the board, the village will receive 40 percent of the revenue from the rentals.

Despite the threat of rain, the Farmingville Historical Society hosted a Civil War Encampment at the site of the 1823 Terry House and 1850 Bald Hill School House on Horseblock Road in Farmingville on Saturday.

The community was able to travel back in time to the 1860s to experience the daily lives of Civil War soldiers with members of the 88th New York State Volunteers and The 9th Virginia Infantry Company C. The Union and Confederate soldiers conducted military drills, fired muskets, demonstrated how soldier’s meals were prepared on an open fire and conducted a mock battle at Farmingville Hills County Park.

In addition, the one-room school house was in session, led by schoolmarm Susan Gill, who regaled the children with stories from the days of Laura Ingalls and life in the 1800s and answered questions.

If you would like more information on the Farmingville Historical Society and its programs, visit

Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House

By Alex Petroski

The pain of losing a child may never go away, but it can be soothed by the support of others who know what it is like. Parents will have that opportunity on May 7 when the Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization Angela’s House, which was founded in 1992, hosts the first Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember.

Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House
Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House

The walk will take place Mother’s Day weekend at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, where the nonprofit’s Angel of Hope statue has stood since 2008 as a comforting symbol to parents who have lost children.

Angela’s House assists families caring for children with special health care needs that are medically fragile, chronically ill or living with a life-threatening illness, according to their website. Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro said the event would be a nonreligious, yet spiritual gathering.

“I would say different from our support group or even a counselor, the difficulty of those environments [is] you have to be ready and have to talk about your pain and that kind of brings about peace as you talk it through,” Policastro said in a phone interview Friday about the walk and what those interested in attending should expect. “This one I feel has kind of an easier tone to it in the sense that you’re coming to a ceremony and the comfort of seeing others that have also gone through all of this will give people great peace knowing that they’re not alone. They can talk to people if they want to but if they don’t want to that’s fine.”

The purpose of the event is not to raise funds, according to Policastro, though there is a $25 charge per person to participate.

Policastro said the date was a strategic choice by Angela’s House trustees and volunteers.

“Mother’s Day is always one of those potentially difficult times of the year,” he said. “That will be a good way to kind of help try to bring them peace, almost like a support group. To get together and be around others that have also experienced loss, it’s very comforting.”

Policastro and his wife Angie started the foundation after the death of their daughter Angela. The Angel of Hope is a reference to the book “The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans in which a character frequently visits the grave of her daughter, which is marked with an angel statue. Statues like the one in Eisenhower Park popped up across the country after the release of the book in 1993, Policastro said. He was instrumental in bringing the statue to Eisenhower Park.

The walk is less than a mile long and will follow a path around Salisbury Lake in the park, concluding at the statue. The New Apostolic Church and the Willow Interfaith Woman’s Choir will lead those in attendance in a song, and a nondenominational spiritual ceremony will also be held.

Those seeking more information are instructed to visit

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Pictured above, from left, is the happy family: Ronald, Lauren, Sophia, Ryan, Lynn and Edgar Roque. Photo from St. Charles Hospital

Port Jefferson residents Lauren Roque and her husband Ronald welcomed their first child, Sophia, at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson on March 28, at 2:33 p.m. Lauren’s sister Lynn and her husband Edgar, who is Ronald’s brother, welcomed their own son, Ryan, at the hospital just two days later — on March 30 at 11:16 a.m.

Born less than 48 hours apart, Sophia weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces at birth and her cousin Ryan weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

The two Roque families reside in separate units within the same multifamily home in Port Jefferson.

Sari Feldman, Amanda Geraci, Aria Saltini and Melanie Acampora star in a scene fron ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

A sweet little fairy tale waltzed into Theatre Three last weekend and quickly stole the hearts of the entire audience. The theater is closing its 2015-16 children’s theater season with the perfect choice: a classic retelling of “Cinderella.”

Many little princesses sat in the audience during Saturday’s opening to see Cinderella find her true love and live happily ever after.

With book, music and lyrics by Douglas J. Quattrock, Theatre Three’s version of this rags-to-riches story is full of singing, dancing, magic, quirky characters and lots of laughs. In short, your kids will love it.

From left, Jenna Kavaler and Amanda Geraci star in a scene from ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
From left, Jenna Kavaler and Amanda Geraci star in a scene from ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the eight adult cast members all deliver stellar performances and clearly love the craft they have chosen. In a nod to the 17th century author of the modern Cinderella story, who is commonly referred to as the father of the fairy tale, the show’s narrator is named Charles Perrault. This “squire to the sire,” played by Andrew Gasparini, transports theatergoers to a faraway land ruled by King Utterly Charming (Steven Uihlein), who wants to retire to Boca and pass the crown on to his handsome son, Prince Charming (Hans Paul Hendrickson) — and yes, he is indeed charming. However, the king feels that his son should get married first and invites all eligible maidens to a royal ball.

The squire delivers the invitations to the home of the beautiful Cinderella (Amanda Geraci), who is still being treated badly by her wretched stepsisters (Sari Feldman and Melanie Acampora) and mean stepmother, played by newcomer Aria Saltini.

Left behind while the three meanies go to the ball, Cindy is visited by her fairy godmother, Angelica, wonderfully portrayed by Jenna Kavaler. Speaking with a Southern accent, Angelica quickly cooks up a beautiful gown and sends Cinderella on her way.

During Cinderella’s infamous missing shoe episode, Prince Charming interacts with all the little princesses in attendance, asking them for their shoe sizes as he searches for the glass slipper’s owner — a nice touch.

The songs, with Steve McCoy accompanying on piano, dominate the show. Geraci’s solo, “A Girl Like Me (And a Boy Like You),” is sweet as she dances with a broom and dreams of falling in love, and her duet with Hendrickson, “Here in Your Arms (The Waltz)” is delightful. Special mention should also be made of Gasparini’s solos, “Once Upon a Time” and “Take a Chance.”

The cast of ‘Cinderella’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
The cast of ‘Cinderella’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Teresa Matteson’s costumes are on point, from Cinderella’s beautiful gown to Prince Charming’s crown. Feldman’s choreography ties it all together.

Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show and stay for a special photo with Cinderella and the Prince.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Cinderella” through June 11. The new season will begin on the Mainstage with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 8 to Aug. 5 and the premiere of “The Misadventures of Robin Hood” from Aug. 5 to 13. All seats are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit

Julien Rentsch has been playing the piano for several years. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Eighth-grader Julien Rentsch is already a celebrated music man in his community.

Julien, a 14-year-old at J. Taylor Finley Middle School in Huntington, has been composing music for years and the Finley Honors Orchestra has helped bring his music to life.

For the past two years, the orchestra has performed Julien’s pieces during their concerts under the direction of music teacher and conductor Matthew Gelfer.

“I think having a student like Julien in my orchestra is kind of what you hope for as a music teacher,” Gelfer said in a phone interview.

This past March at a concert at Huntington High School, Julien accompanied the orchestra on the piano during a performance of his piece, titled “Free Spirit.”

Julien Rentsch plays cello in the Finley Honors Orchestra. Photo from Darin Reed
Julien Rentsch plays cello in the Finley Honors Orchestra. Photo from Darin Reed

“It’s really cool,” Julien said in an interview on Friday. “It was amazing just to hear onstage and the crowd and everything.

Julien’s parents are both professional photographers, so the arts were a major part of his upbringing. He started playing piano when he was 6 or 7, though Julien said he is not a tireless worker who practices constantly. His father, Andreas Rentsch, agreed.

“It comes almost naturally,” Rentsch said of his son’s musical abilities. “He has that ability to transform his notes into beautiful music without really, I would say, trying too hard.”

Julien said he has a process for composing music. He starts by coming up with melodies to be played on the piano, then adds and subtracts separate tracks from five different instrument groups. He said he works like a chef, adding a dash of strings or a pinch of horns until his recipe is a perfect blend. Julien has three complete pieces composed for full-size orchestras.

Mother Helen Rousakis said she enjoys watching her son on stage, working with the rest of the orchestra.

“I had a perfect view and [Julien was] just having a ball,” Rousakis said of last year’s performance. “He was laughing, he was making eye contact with others. I was just blown away by the camaraderie, how they all just love to work together.”

Julien Rentsch practices the piano at his home in Huntington. Photo by Alex Petroski
Julien Rentsch practices the piano at his home in Huntington. Photo by Alex Petroski

Julien and both of his parents stressed the impact that Gelfer has had on Julien as a musician.

“Julien is just such a mature kid,” Gelfer said. “A lot of composers can be really precious about their work and what they do, [but] he came at it with a collaborative attitude.”

When it comes to the future, this 14-year-old knows exactly what he wants: to compose musical scores for films one day. He enjoys the work of John Williams, who composed music for the “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” films, among others.

For now the rest of Julien’s time is filled as a multisport athlete and a musician at Greenlawn’s St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church, where he plays piano for the junior choir and church fundraisers.

“If I’m into something, I’m just into it,” Julien said about his love of music. “I don’t stop.”

Vape Shops across Suffolk say the new law will hurt their businesses. File photo by Giselle Barkley

During last week’s Rocky Point Drug Forum, Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced her new step to combat drug use, with a ban regarding hookah lounges and smoke and vape shops in Brookhaven Town.

If the town approves and implements the councilwoman’s proposal, prospective shop owners cannot establish their businesses within 1,000 feet of family- or child-oriented institutions or various public places. These locations include educational and religious facilities; non-degree granting schools, like ballet and karate studios; and swimming pools. The ban won’t apply to existing lounges and shops that have proper permits and certificates of occupancy.

The idea isn’t simply to deter students from purchasing items from the store, but also to prevent them from using these devices, or similar items, to smoke drugs like marijuana. During last week’s forum, John Venza, vice president of Adolescent Services for Outreach, said some vaporizers can accommodate various forms of marijuana including dabs, a wax-like form of the drug that has higher levels of THC.

According to Venza, marketing has also changed over the years to appeal to a younger audience. Bonner not only agreed with Venza, but went a step further.

“We all know that those attractive signs that lure the kids in are the very same reason the government banned Camel advertising,” Bonner said during last week’s forum. She added that parents need to keep a closer eye on their kids by observing their social media accounts, going through their phones and having family dinners.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner announces her proposed ban at the Rocky Point Drug Forum last week. Photo by Giselle Barkley

For the Rocky Point school district and community alike, fighting substance abuse is a top priority. But according to Rocky Point Superintendent of Schools Michael Ring, the fight is an uphill battle with new devices on the market.

“One of the things that works against us is the emerging technology that makes it easier for students to be brought in and grow that into abuse,” Ring said.

But Rocky Point Smoke & Vape Shop employee Alex Patel said the ban might be a good idea with little reward. According to the Rocky Point resident and father of two, parents have purchased vaporizers and accessories for their children. Patel said the shop isn’t legally allowed to sell to residents who are under 21 years old, but this isn’t the only way students are acquiring the devices.

“Online, I see people buying left and right,” Patel said about vaporizers and similar devices. “It’s much cheaper online because they’re buying in bulk. So what they’re paying in the store $50, online, they can get it for $20.”

He added that it’s also easier for students to purchase these items online because these sites don’t verify the buyer’s age. In light of this, Patel continued saying the proposed ban won’t stop these underage residents from finding what they’re looking for.

North Shore Youth Council Executive Director Janene Gentile said she hasn’t seen an increase in these shops near her organization, but said the youth council works “with the legislators around holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable” as well.

“I believe in this bill,” Gentile added.

Residents can voice their opinions regarding the ban at the May 12 public hearing at 6 p.m. in Brookhaven Town Hall.

Ezra, one of the farm’s two alpacas, rests outside at the Lewis Oliver Farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In 1996, the Lewis Oliver Farm’s Friends of the Farm in Northport held its first barn dance. Twenty years later, the not-for profit is still letting Long Islanders move to the beat for its annual barn dance fundraiser to be held on Saturday, April 16, at the St. Philip Neri Parish Center in the village.

A goat steps out of it’s living quarters at the Lewis Oliver Farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley
A goat steps out of it’s living quarters at the Lewis Oliver Farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley

For members of Friends of the Farm, the dance isn’t simply a tradition but also provides funds for its approximately 60 animals. According to the organization, the dance was specifically created to help care for the farm animals.

While the 100-year-old farm used to produce butter and eggs in its prime, the organization now provides sanctuary-like care for Annabelle the cow, Tiny the pig, sheep Bitsie and Pepper, alpacas Ezra and Onyx, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys and more. The funds also help preserve the farm, which has been an area attraction for Northport community members.

“You see little boys and they’re playing ball and they’re independent and they want to get an ice cream,” said Wendy Erlandson, president of Friends of the Farm. “When I was growing up in Brooklyn I could do that … there were plenty of places to go but here there aren’t.”

According to Erlandson and another Friends of the Farm member, Judy, the dance is the not-for-profit’s main fundraising event to help the farm. The duo said the farm was in jeopardy of closing 15 to 20 years ago.  Now, with fundraising events like the barn dance, the farm can continue to thrive and be one way for kids to learn about some of the animals they see in their books.

“I think it is important to teach children … that [animals] don’t just appear. You just don’t push a button and there’s your animal like it is on Google,” Judy said. “You’ve got to feed it, you’ve got to wash it, you’ve got to take care of its health, oversee it … and [children] can be part of it.”

The Lewis Oliver Farm provides permanent housing for its animals, which will live out their days on the farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley
The Lewis Oliver Farm provides permanent housing for its animals, which will live out their days on the farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Judy added that community support is important especially since one ticket alone could pay for items like a bag of chicken feed. Erlandson said they’ve sold around 180 tickets thus far but there’s still room for more community members.

Erlandson added that ticketholders can take a chance on raffle prizes, with baskets valued at upward of $100 each,  and enjoy samples from local restaurants including Maroni’s, Aunt Chilada’s, Three Amigo’s, Deli 51 and Batata Cafe. Beer, wine and coffee along with dessert from Copenhagen’s Bakery will also be served during the dance.

Live music will be provided by the band Just Cause (country, rock).

This year, the Friends of the Farm has partnered with a fellow not-for-profit, Rock Can Roll Inc., which provides nonperishable items for food pantries on the Island. Residents are asked to bring a healthy nonperishable item to the event for people or pets to support the cause.

Residents who wish to attend this year’s barn dance can purchase tickets in advance for $50 or at the door for $60 per person. The Barn Dance will be held at the St. Philip Neri Parish Center at 15 Prospect St., Northport Village, from 7 to 11 p.m.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Lynn at 631-757-9626 or leave a message at the farm at 631-261-6320.

Caroline Woo, above, plays with therapy dog Beau. She named her black Labrador stuffed animal after her regular reading companion, Malibu. Photo by Giselle Barkley

A book and a calm canine companion are all Caroline Woo needs to practice reading.

Every Thursday afternoon, this 11-year-old from Setauket visits the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library for its Books Are Read to K-9s program. Caroline joined the program and fell in love with it last November, after her mother, Eydie Woo, learned of the club. But BARK didn’t just allow her to interact with a calm canine, it also improved her reading skills.

Last month for her birthday, Caroline asked her friends and family to make a donation to the program instead of buying presents. The $270 she received went toward training more dogs for the club and other therapy dog-related programs. For Caroline, reading to Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy certified dog Malibu, a black Labrador, helped her tackle the big words she struggled to say when reading out loud.

“Malibu, she’ll … just sit down and they’ll kind of listen and it is better because the dogs, they mostly maintain one expression,” Caroline said. “It’s easier since she’s less judgmental than people”

According to Malibu’s handler and owner Fred Dietrich, the program hasn’t only helped her reading skills, but it’s also boosted her confidence. He added that he’s seen Caroline become more outspoken since she joined BARK.

Her mother agreed with Dietrich, saying Caroline “feels comfortable with Malibu and it’s translating into other settings.” The fifth-grader met Malibu when she started the program and they’ve been regular reading partners since. Malibu, like all eight dogs involved in the reading program, is PRAAT certified.

Stony Brook resident Jo-Ann Goldwasser established the Doggie Reading Club program, which is called BARK at the library, three years ago after learning about a similar program in Chicago. The Windy City’s Sit Stay Read program has served kids in Chicago’s inner-city schools for several years. Goldwasser wanted to help children overcome their reading difficulties with this program. Her club started with Rocky Point Middle School’s sixth-grade students and has expanded to the Comsewogue school district, two schools in Brentwood as well as the library. She plans to establish the program in Hauppauge school district.

Goldwasser said the school and library programs are somewhat different.

“Children who generally like to read, who go to the library, think it’s kind of a fun thing to come to the library and read to a dog,” Goldwasser said. “In the schools however, we go into … the same classes … every other week. It’s more academic in that we listen to the same children read week after week; we know what they’re reading [and] we know how to help them.”

Fellow therapy dog handler Linda Devin-Sheehan said it’s hard to track the program’s success in the library because the club is only three-years-old. A lack of regulars like Caroline also makes it difficult to monitor a student’s improvement.

Parents must register their children to participate in the library’s program, which is held every Wednesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the library’s kids’ section.

According to the handlers, a dog’s patience and calm demeanor are helpful to students like Caroline. While the program has helped Caroline in the past few months, she simply enjoys being around dogs as they come in various shapes, sizes and dispositions.

“You can see [a dog] on the street and pet it and get to know it for a short minute but … you can already tell that they’re such a sweet dog and it’s nice getting to meet a ton of different dogs,” Caroline said.

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Children practice pedestrian safety. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The Town of Brookhaven’s Highway Department in conjunction with the Suffolk County Sheriffs Office STOPPED program is bringing the rodeo to Safety Town on Saturday, April 9, the first of three bike rodeos to be held this year at the Holtsville Ecology Site.

Children of all ages across the Island can bring their bikes and test their bike riding skills and safety knowledge in Safety Town’s kid-sized roadways and obstacles. Attendees can also participate in bike and helmet inspections and helmet fittings during the three-hour event.

According to the Town of Brookhaven’s website, the miniature village was modeled after Nassau County’s Safety Town at Eisenhower Park.

“It’s really a great program where the kids can come and learn on real equipment, while not having to be on an actual roadway,” said Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R). “It’s a completely controlled environment with traffic signals, crosswalks, [and] a railway crossing. It really has everything that you would encounter in a [real] roadway.”

According to Losquadro, the department doesn’t limit the number of kids who can participate in this event. While most families stay for a half hour or so, the department will separate the kids into groups if a large number of children attend. The groups will rotate between the Safety Town roadways and a course designed in front of the Safety Town building.

Children practice traffic safety in Safety Town’s small cars. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Children practice traffic safety in Safety Town’s small cars. Photo by Giselle Barkley

According to Traffic Safety Director Jon Sullivan, the department held its first bike rodeo around 2007 in the Brookhaven Town Hall parking lot in Farmingville. The event was moved to Safety Town after it was established in 2009.

Since it was moved to its new venue, Sullivan and Losquadro noticed that kids have a better time remembering the safety rules they learned during the rodeo or through Safety Town’s many programs. The programs cover pedestrian safety, traffic safety and bike safety among other topics. Sullivan added that the mock town and rodeo really resonate with these students.

“Kids will go home [and] they’ll be explaining [the program] to their parents,” Sullivan said. “The parents would then be calling us up saying ‘when can we bring them back?’”

Sullivan and Losquadro alike remembered their experience learning about road safety in their school gymnasium. At the time, some schools used small scooters and cones to help teach students. But Losquadro said learning these same rules at Safety Town is more effective.

“It’s just a very different hands-on experience and being in a physical environment like this, with … real traffic signals, real lane markings [and] not just things on a gymnasium floor … it’s much more impactful to the student,” the highway superintendent said.

Parents can watch their kids learn the rules of the road when it comes to riding bikes, on Saturday, April 9, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Safety Town at the Holtsville Ecology Site located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville.

In the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled to Sunday, April 10. For more information about this year’s bicycle rodeo, call 631-363-3770.