Lifestyle Magazine

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A before and after of a rhinoplasty, or “nose job,” by Dr. Gregory Diehl in Port Jefferson Station. Photos from Dr. Gregory Diehl

By Melissa Arnold

We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives, even briefly: That nagging feeling of discontent about the way you look.

Maybe you’re a parent with stubborn post-baby weight, someone who’s had gastric bypass surgery with lots of extra skin or even someone recovering from a traumatic injury that’s affected your appearance. In all of these cases, lifestyle changes can only do so much.

For many years, plastic surgery has bridged that gap, giving patients from all walks of life the look they’ve longed for. And while it’s still going to cost you, going under the knife is simpler than ever.

An ancient practice
Believe it or not, plastic surgery has been around for thousands of years in two forms — reconstructive and cosmetic. According to the National Institutes of Health, some of the earliest body-altering procedures were performed in India around 800 B.C. At that time, people often had their noses cut off during conflict or as punishment, and simplistic rhinoplasties, “nose jobs,” were performed to reconstruct them.

Modern reconstructive surgery was born in wartime as soldiers dealt with facial trauma and other injuries. The American Board of Plastic Surgery was organized in 1937.

Cosmetic surgery took longer to become popular — the buzz surrounding it didn’t pick up until the 1970s and 80s, says Dr. Jim Romanelli of North Shore Plastic Surgery in Huntington.

“There was [originally] some resistance within medicine, saying it was unnecessary, dangerous and vain,” Romanelli said. “But today, we know a lot more about performing the surgery safely with good results.”

What began with involved, painful procedures and long scars has grown into a streamlined, patient-directed field of surgery with more natural-looking results and less hassle.

And these days, plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures are more accessible than ever. While no cosmetic surgeries are covered by insurance, there are now plenty of options to finance them, from saving up cash to working with a lender or financing company.

“Most people having cosmetic surgery just want to look in the mirror and feel happy and healthy,” Romanelli said. “These are everyday people — schoolteachers, musicians, bus drivers — not exclusively wealthy people or celebrities.”

While many patients opting for surgery are women, the number of male patients is growing too.

Modern trends
In the past, a patient’s wishes weren’t always a huge priority. Years ago, a surgeon may have only performed a procedure in a certain way. If the patient hoped for something different, they’d have to look elsewhere.

But today, it’s not uncommon for patients to bring in photos of the kind of look they’re hoping for, much like choosing a hairstyle or wedding dress, Romanelli explained.

Finding out what the patient really wants is the foundation of modern cosmetic surgery, says Dr. Hilton Adler of Suffolk Plastic Surgeons in Setauket.

“I always start by asking a patient what they’re looking for — what concerns them and what they want to see changed,” he said. “Then, following an exam, I’ll offer them choices based on what [technology is] available.”

Today’s most sought after surgeries aren’t that different from the past. Nose jobs, breast reductions or augmentations, tummy tucks and face-lifts all top the list.

“I wouldn’t say that any particular cosmetic procedure has been abandoned, just significantly modified. It’s almost like a brand-new procedure in some cases,” Adler explained.

For example, Romanelli says that the incisions used for breast-related surgeries have changed, allowing for a smaller scar. In some cases, the incision is made under the arm, where it’s less obvious.

There’s also the “mommy makeover,” which combines a tummy tuck and a face lift or breast work into one surgery.

Men usually come in for facial work, but many are also seeking help for gynecomastia, a condition that causes breast development.

“It’s tough on guys who are in high school or college whose breasts develop,” said Dr. Gregory Diehl of Diehl Plastic Surgery in Port Jefferson Station. “The hormones are fine, but the glands are bigger. Its become more common today to look for a fix.”

In reconstructive surgery, one of the most common procedures today helps to eliminate excess skin that often occurs in people who have experienced rapid or significant weight loss, Adler says. In many cases, the weight loss is aided by gastric bypass procedures.

Noninvasive procedures and more
Of course, not every cosmetic procedure requires surgery. In fact, minimally invasive and noninvasive procedures are extremely popular today, as new technology continues to develop.

“People are trying to get away from surgery, while things like Botox and other (injectable) fillers are becoming more popular,” Diehl said.

Injectables are a group of materials that can smooth wrinkles, plump other areas, and create a more youthful look overall.

Procedures such as CoolSculpting, which freezes and shrinks fat cells, and ultherapy, which uses ultrasound technology for tightening the face, are also on the rise, Adler said.

Put simply, if you can dream it, there’s likely a procedure to help you achieve it.

Planning your makeover
If you’re looking to have cosmetic surgery or another procedure, the first step is choosing the right surgeon.

“We urge patients to seek out board-certified plastic surgeons. Make sure your doctor has proper credentials,” Adler said.

Diehl also noted that they should offer to show you their previous work. “Ask for pictures of their surgeries. You should like what you see. Pictures tell the story,” he said. “Also, is the doctor really listening to you and what you want? You have to communicate. You have to make sure all the details are ironed out.”

Once you find the right person, a consultation lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

The surgeon will get an idea of what you’d like to do, and in some cases allow you to check it out using computer imaging.

If you’re satisfied, you’ll return for a second appointment to address any new questions or concerns before scheduling the procedure. The exact process and recovery time varies, depending on the procedure. Many surgeons have operating rooms in their own offices, and barring complications, a patient can go home the same day.

Making a difference
The surgeons are quick to note that there’s no longer any stigma surrounding plastic surgery. “People are proud of what they’ve done. They want to tell everyone about it,” Diehl said.

The surgeons are proud, too.

“People do say, ‘You’ve changed my life. I should have done this sooner.’ It’s wonderful to be able to help people with that,” Romanelli said.

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A PRAAT dog serves as a reading assistant at a local library. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

By Lisa Steuer

It is quite obvious that people love their pets. In fact, 62 percent of U.S. households contain a pet, and about $45 billion is spent on pets annually, according to Pamela Linden LMSW, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the Occupational Therapy program at Stony Brook University.

But what many people may not realize is that these animals could be positively impacting the pet owner’s health, and that emerging research shows that therapy and comfort animals could have a place in therapeutic and trauma settings. Currently, a lot of the research on the health benefits of pet ownership has to do with the bond between the animal and its owner, Linden said.

“There’s a book by Meg Daley Olmert called ‘Made for Each Other’ and the whole book is about oxytocin — and that’s why we bond with others, including other mammals, like dogs,” said Linden. “A lot of it has to do with the gazing and the staring, so studies have been done, especially one interesting study that measured oxytocin levels in both the human and the dog after gazing— oxytocin levels raised for both of them,” resulting in good feelings not only for human, but for the dog, too.

Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

Linden’s hope is that more people will be motivated to understand the role of pets in our lives. She developed the first social work internship with Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy, a not-for-profit organization in Patchogue that screens, trains and supports human-dog teams that visit individuals in schools, hospitals and hospice facilities. Linden hopes to work with PRAAT to research the effect that comfort animals have on people who are already sick.

In addition, Linden is the faculty advisor for Stony Brook University’s first Animal Assisted Activity student club anticipated to begin in spring 2016. So far, more than 150 students have signed up for the club, which has goals to help provide education about animal -assisted therapy while partnering students with organizations like PRAAT and local shelters to help prepare dogs to become adoption-ready.

Linden pointed out that people often get confused between service animals, therapy dogs and comfort animals. Service dogs are protected by law, are allowed anywhere animals typically aren’t allowed and have been trained to perform special functions, like open doors, push buttons and retrieve objects for people with visual impairments, for instance. A comfort dog has been trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes and similar places to provide comfort to patients, and a therapy dog is an animal used by a licensed health professional to achieve a therapeutic outcome.

“I’ll give you an example [of a therapy dog],” said Linden. “As a social worker, I’m working with someone who is grieving. And they’re either too numb or too emotional to process the grief. I might bring in a dog with a therapeutic goal of bridging between the client and the therapist by doing those behaviors that we do— you can snuggle up to a dog, pet it, stare into the eyes and have your oxytocin kick in and relax.”

Physical, Psychological and Emotional Benefits

Although the research is limited, studies have demonstrated the healthy benefits of pet ownership and companionship. Linden shared the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits:

Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

• Physical: Pet owners have fewer minor health complaints and have greater levels of exercises and physical fitness. Studies have found that pet owners had reductions in some common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as lower systolic blood pressures, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride values.

“People experience a decrease of blood pressure talking to pets. Blood pressure decreases for people with normal pressures and those with hypertension when watching fish in a standard aquarium,” said Linden.

• Psychological: Studies have found that pet owners enjoy better well-being than non-owners, and that pet owners have greater self-esteem and tend to be less lonely.

“People find comfort in talking to their animals. People walking with their dog experience more social contact and longer conversations than when walking alone — pets stimulate conversations between people,” Linden said. “Companion animals can help people to laugh and maintain a sense of humor.”

She added that Children with ADHD and defiant disorders exhibit significantly less antisocial and violent behavior than a matched group that did not involve animals.

• Emotional: Companion animals have been shown to alleviate anxiety. Stony Brook brings dogs in during exam time to help relax the undergraduate students.

“Any discussion regarding pets should include the notion of responsible pet ownership — ensuring that their physical, medical and emotional needs are met. This requires adequate financial resources and time to devote to caring for the pet,” added Linden.

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By Lisa Steuer

In the 1990s, low-fat food products lined the shelves. Consumers believed that choosing a product with a low-fat label was essential for optimal health and fat loss. But today, experts say that a low-fat diet can be detrimental — as food that has the fat removed can instead be high in sugar and calories to make up for the lack of fat.

“The whole low-fat phase was problematic because people substituted refined carbohydrates, and that is a huge problem,” said Dr. Josephine Connolly-Schoonen, Ph.D., RD, the executive director of Stony Brook Medicine Nutrition Division and author of “Losing Weight Permanently with the Bull’s Eye Food Guide: Your Best Mix of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats.”

So with so many diets out there today, which work best for weight loss and health? Here is Connolly-Schoonen’s input.

Going Gluten Free
Gluten is a name for proteins found in wheat, and some common foods that contain gluten include pasta, bread, flour tortillas, oats, dressings, cereals, sauces and more. Go to any grocery store these days and you will most likely find a “gluten-free” section. And while people with Celiac disease cannot eat gluten because they will get sick, many people who aren’t allergic to gluten are touting the weight loss and health benefits of going gluten free.

But if you don’t have a gluten allergy, is it necessary or nutritionally wise to go gluten free?

“I think that many people are gluten intolerant and can benefit from a gluten-free diet,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “But, [it should be] a high-quality gluten-free diet — foods that never had gluten. So your starches are going to be from potato and rice and quinoa, not from gluten-free bread and gluten-free pasta.”

So while foods that are naturally gluten free are generally healthy, those who are not gluten-intolerant should be wary of processed foods that have had the gluten removed, as there now exists a big market and opportunity for companies wanting to take advantage of the gluten-free trend — and products such as “gluten-free cookies” may not necessarily be nutritionally sound.

“In my practice, I’ve seen many people benefit from gluten-free styles of eating, but using whole foods, not processed gluten-free food … A slice of gluten-free bread is rather small and has the same or perhaps a little bit more calories than regular bread,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Foods that are naturally gluten-free are quite healthy and I really do think people may benefit from a gluten-free style of eating, but it has to be natural.”

The Paleo Diet and Going Vegan
The idea behind the paleo diet is that we should eat as our ancestors or “cavemen” ate, including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excluding processed food, grains and dairy. And while many people have reportedly lost weight on the diet, some argue that the paleo diet does not necessarily follow what our ancestors ate, and there is now a market for processed paleo bars and drinks.

But Connolly-Schoonen says the concept of consuming fewer processed foods is a good one to follow, especially when it comes to sugar-laden beverages.

“With the advent of the high fructose corn syrup, it became so cheap to make sweetened beverages … that have the equivalent of 17, 19, 20 packets of sugar in them, and we genetically cannot handle that.”

In addition, some people choose to go vegan or vegetarian for a variety of reasons — moral, health or a combination. Both vegans and vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry, while vegans also do not use other animal products and byproducts, such as eggs, honey, cosmetics, and more.

“I don’t think you need to be a vegetarian to be at your optimal health, but there is a lot of research over an extended period of time showing that vegetarians, more than vegans, who eat a high-quality vegetarian diet — so no Snickers bars — do quite well in terms of decreasing the risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and there really is a lot of research behind the vegetarian diet to support that,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Vegan diets could be healthy, but it’s much more challenging to make sure that you get all of your micronutrients.”

Juicing Up
Juicing is still considered healthy in moderation and as a quick way to get antioxidants. But when you use a juicer, the juice is extracted from fruits and vegetables, leaving behind a pulp that is often thrown away. In addition, this strips the fruit of its fiber but leaves the sugar.

“Even if you’re juicing vegetables, you’re still getting the sugar … and making the sugar much more highly available,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “And most people are more satiated when they chew their food.”

In addition, many people subscribe to the idea of doing juicing “detoxes” or “cleanses” every so often — which have found to be not really necessary, as we already have a natural detoxification system that occurs in our livers. In addition, any sort of diet that deprives one of nutrients is never a great idea. Instead, work on supporting your body’s natural ability to detox.

“If you have an unhealthy gut environment, you’re taxing your liver’s detoxification system. So first you want to have a healthy gut environment, which means lots of fiber and a good source of probiotics,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Then you need to support your liver’s detoxification system with a wide array of micronutrients, which is going to come from a wide array of whole foods like protein, fish, lean meats, beans and then your vegetables, fruits and nuts.”

The Bottom Line
Instead of following a super strict diet, you may want to simply remember Connolly-Schoonen’s “two key factors” for healthy nutrition: quality and quantity. In terms of quality, choose foods that are less processed — lean proteins like chicken and fish, a huge variety of vegetables, beans, nuts and olive oil for healthy fats.

Once one works on the quality of foods in his or her diet, “it’s been my experience that patients can then much more easily work on moderating the quantity,” she said. “Once you’re eating whole foods and you’re mixing your quality proteins and fats, it becomes much easier to manage your appetite.”

Does this mean you can never have dessert again? Not at all.

“I tell patients if you’re eating ice cream, it should be real ice cream made from whole milk fat and real sugar. You shouldn’t get artificially sweetened products,” she said. “When you want chocolate and you want ice cream, have the real stuff. And that you should be able to include in your diet, maybe not every day, maybe a few times a week — it all just depends on how active you are.”

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For fitness tips, training videos and healthy recipes, visit and

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By Bob Lipinski

Wine has a long history of use as a medicine, often being recommended by doctors, including Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, and alchemists. It was consumed as an alternative to drinking often-contaminated water as well as to disinfect and dress wounds, as a digestive aid, to purge fever and sufferings from child birth, as cure-alls for man’s ailments, love potions and guarantees of everlasting life, for rejuvenation, and sexual potency, and even as an aphrodisiac. Wine was easy to make; ancient winemakers used whatever grapes were available and relied on the natural yeast on the grapes to ferment the wine. Wine was easy to drink (not high quality) and the high alcohol content made dissolving herbs and other medicines much easier.

Among the many ancient drinks was one called Hippocras, a highly spiced honey wine that was made more than 2,300 years ago by Hippocrates. Hippocras was quite popular in Europe until the time of Louis XV of France.

Wine, consumed in moderation, has long been thought of as heart-healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in wine, called antioxidants, may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the “good” cholesterol — and protecting against artery damage.

During the past several decades, there have been hundreds of studies confirming the health benefits of consuming wine, especially red wine, in moderation.

Numerous studies have found that a powerful polyphenol known as resveratrol is found in the seeds and skins of red grapes, which has antioxidant properties. Red wine has a high concentration of resveratrol because the skin and seeds ferment in the grape-juice during the winemaking process. White wine also contains resveratrol, but seeds and skin are removed early in the winemaking process, reducing the concentration of the compound in the finished wine. Resveratrol can also be found in blueberries and cranberries.

Scientific research has suggested that resveratrol may have very desirable health benefits, from fighting cancer and heart disease to slowing aging. The amount of resveratrol in wine varies by the grape variety, country of origin, and the winemaking process.

There is some research showing that wine may have other health benefits as well, including slowing memory loss, preventing dementia, fighting weight gain, protecting against dental disease and reducing risk of depression.

As a part of a healthy lifestyle, we often find ourselves reading food labels, looking for the number of calories, grams of fat, sodium and so forth. Regarding wine, there are calories present, which vary depending on the number of ounces, alcohol content and amount of sugar present. With few exceptions, most red and white wines fall between 11 to 14.5 percent alcohol. In restaurants, the “standard” glass of wine is about 6 ounces.

Let’s not forget Hippocrates’ wise words on wine’s health benefits.

“Wine is a substance that is wonderfully appropriate to man, in health as well as in sickness, if it be administered at the right time, and in proper quantities, according to the individual constitution,” the physician once said.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food, and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected]

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Dentists drill down on trick-or-treating

By Susan Risoli

Everyone knows that Halloween treats are bad for children’s teeth. Or is that just a myth, perpetrated by parents who want to pilfer their kids’ candy stash?

With their mouths full of restorations, adults are the ones more likely than kids to experience post-Halloween dental problems, said Dr. Robert Branca D.D.S. It’s not unusual for adults to make an appointment at Sweetwater Dental Care in Hauppauge, where Branca practices, to take care of a cracked tooth, a lost crown or a missing filling caused by biting into hard or sticky candy. As far as kids go, Branca said, Halloween doesn’t so much affect the ongoing issue of tooth decay as much as the child’s genetic makeup and the texture of their teeth — smooth or pitted. To prevent cavities, he recommends that children get fluoride treatments and have their teeth sealed.

Energy drinks and soda are way worse for a young person’s teeth than once-a-year consumption of Halloween candy, Branca said.

“We see a big difference in tooth decay of young adults in their 20s,” since energy drinks became popular, he said, because the drinks are “very high in sugar, very high in acid. Those things are really bad for your teeth.”

If the child has braces, their parents can remind them to choose and eat their Halloween candy carefully. “Sticky things could be a problem,” he said.

When it came to raising his own kids, Dr. Branca said he practiced the “all things in moderation” approach. “I wasn’t going to take Halloween away from them. Let them have their fun,” he said. “But I wasn’t going to let them have candy every day, either.”

Young trick-or-treaters have healthier teeth than adults, said Dr. Roger Kleinman, D.D.S., so a little Halloween indulgence shouldn’t be bad for their dental health.

“Up until age 14 or 15, children tend to still have strong teeth,” he said. “Some of their adult teeth didn’t come in until they were 12. There hasn’t been a chance yet for adult decay to set in.” At the Gentle Dental office in Port Jefferson, he has treated his share of dental trauma caused by adults biting into candy — “broken teeth from a frozen caramel cluster, for example.” Dr. Kleinman recommends parents follow the usual advice about letting their kids eat only wrapped candies.

“And after they eat the candy they’re allowed to have, I would recommend that they go brush their teeth,” he advised.

Dr. Aimee Zopf, D.M.D., also a practitioner at Gentle Dental, isn’t likely to condemn Halloween. “That’s my birthday,” she said.

For the rest of us trick-or-treaters, as long as proper dental hygiene is practiced on a consistent, daily basis, Halloween shouldn’t pose a problem, she said. Eating candy won’t necessarily cause tooth decay “as long as you’re brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist every six months, or more frequently if needed,” Dr. Zopf said. She also reminded parents to check their kids’ Halloween candy not only to make sure it’s safely wrapped, but also to check that it doesn’t trigger any allergies the child might have.

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By Wendy Mercier

As summer fades into fall, many plants and flowers will continue to bloom until the first frost of winter. Annuals, such as geraniums, marigolds and begonias, can have an extended growing season with proper watering and pruning. Plants such as Montauk daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and hardy mums are just beginning to come into season, and are a sign that autumn is upon us.

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By Bob Lipinski

Every Mediterranean country, in addition to California, and even Chile and Argentina, grow olives and produce various types of olive oil, including the much-praised “extra-virgin oils.” They are available in local supermarkets, as well as gourmet shops, and even stores specializing in these green-gold colored offerings.

Extra-virgin oil comes from a cold, first-pressing of olives, crushed using the traditional millstone method. The oil that comes from this first cold-pressing qualifies as extra-virgin if it contains not more than 0.8 percent of oleic acid. This cold-pressing method also produces an olive oil that retains both its intense natural aroma and a delectable flavor. Extra-virgin olive oil must also meet other high standards of flavor, color, and aroma. The color of an extra-virgin olive oil usually ranges from a deep golden to dark green; color however, is no indication of quality.

Extra-virgin olive has a low smoking point and is not recommended for frying and especially not deep-frying. Add it after cooking to finish a dish and add a rich, deep, fruity-olive flavor. In a shallow bowl, I like to add one cup extra-virgin olive oil, a head of mashed roasted garlic, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, fresh black pepper, a hint of salt and hot pepper flakes. I mash it all up and spread over freshly toasted bread with a glass of red wine.

Balsamic vinegar is not wine vinegar, but rather vinegar made from the juice of freshly pressed grapes that is filtered and boiled, with no fermentation taking place during the process. After the juice has been reduced, it is aged in various types and sizes of barrels, for many years. Some of the barrels used are oak, chestnut, ash, cherry, and even mulberry, each imparting a different flavor and subtle nuance. These red-brown, pungent vinegars with a robust, sweet-sour flavor have been made in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy for than 1,000 years.

Balsamic vinegars are great in salads, to dress grilled vegetables and meat. Older versions are great lightly drizzled over some fresh chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or even sweet strawberries for a special treat.

With olive oil and balsamic vinegar “It’s about tasting.”

Bob Lipinski has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple.” He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food; and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached or [email protected]

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Come Oct. 9, Heckscher Park in Huntington will transform into a hub of fall festivity.

The 22nd annual Long Island Fall Festival, which will run until Oct. 12, throughout Columbus Day weekend, will fill the park with fun, featuring vendors, music, food and more. The event is hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Town.

According to the festival’s website, “This community event highlights the best Huntington has to offer — from its civic-minded businesses, cultural institutions and service organizations, to its restaurants, pubs and retailers.”

More than 300 craft, promotional, retail and non-for-profit vendors will line Prime and Madison streets, adjacent to Heckscher Park, as well as within the grounds of the park.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza
A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Much like previous years, the festival will have a number of returning vendors, but there will be some new faces, according to Ellen O’Brien, executive director of the chamber. Those include vendors who make birdhouses, sea glass jewelry and more. And for the first time in many years, the festival will feature a farmers’ market.

“It’s always changing,” she said in an August phone interview. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Some of the main attractions include four stages of live entertainment, a beer and wine tent, a world-class carnival, two international food courts, a Sunday main stage dedicated to youth talent and more.

O’Brien said that tens of thousands of people frequent the fall festival each day. She also said she’s heard that the festival’s grossed 200,000 park-goers in one weekend.

The chamber’s always on the hunt for new vendors, but space does fill up fast. People learn about the festival through different venues, O’Brien said.

“I think it’s word-of-mouth,” she said. “I think it’s got a mind of its own at this point.”

Those interested in attending the festival can take the Long Island Rail Road to Huntington. There’s free parking at the LIRR train station during that weekend, and round-trip shuttles will run all day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for $1, on Saturday and Sunday, she said.

The festival begins Friday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m., and that night will feature a carnival, food court and music on stage. The fun will continue Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and that day will include vendors, music and shows, a food court and a carnival.

The same activities will be available the following day, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. And Monday, the festival wraps up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information and to get involved in this year’s festival, call (631) 423-6100 or visit

The flowers of a Japanese pagoda tree. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

I love it when people send me photos of unknown plants. Sometimes I know right off what it is and can help them with added information. Sometimes it takes some research, but it’s always fun. Recently, a gardening friend sent me some photos of trees covered in fragrant white flowers in mid-August.

Trees flowering this late in the season are unusual. Most flowering trees bloom in spring, bringing a profusion of color to that season. Some are followed by edible fruit, others by seed pods. Some, especially those grown for their showy flowers, are sterile. So, what was this beautiful tree? The tree in question was a Japanese pagoda tree.

A Japanese pagoda tree in bloom along Route 112 in Coram. Photo by Ellen Barcel
A Japanese pagoda tree in bloom along Route 112 in Coram. Photo by Ellen Barcel

This tree, also known as the Chinese scholar tree, is a native a China, grown in the United States as a specimen tree. Styphnolobium japonica (also known as Sophora japonica) is in the pea family, Fabaceae, but unlike others in the family, is not a nitrogen-fixing tree. It’s a deciduous tree, easily growing up to 60 or more feet tall. It does well in a wide range of soil pH conditions, ranging from 4.5 (extremely acidic) to 8, which is alkaline, so, ideal for Long Island’s acidic soil.

Colorado State Cooperative Extension Service notes that the tree is hardy in zones 4 to 8 (Long Island is zone 7) and prefers a sunny location. The rapidly growing tree tolerates city conditions (i.e., pollution), meaning that it will do well planted along roadsides. It tolerates heat and drought conditions, making it ideal for Long Island with its occasional drought conditions. They describe the flowers as 10- to 15-inch panicles of “creamy-white, pea-like flowers” that survive for about a month. The flowers are followed by pods that “resemble strings of beads,” similar to garden peas. The pods are filled with yellow seeds.

My friend noted how many bees (and other insects) were flying around the tree, visiting the fragrant flowers. The tree provides light shade when young, but a mature tree produces dense shade. Keep this in mind when selecting the tree. Are you looking for dappled shade or dense shade?

Other plants in the pea family include the golden chain tree (see my column of June 18, this year), clover, sweet peas, lupine, beans and, of course, edible garden peas.

Next week we’ll talk about another late summer flowering tree, the mimosa.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

By Wendy Mercier

Any summer day during low tide, there are a variety of birds that visit our Long Island shoreline. These beautiful birds migrate here to mate, nest and raise their young. Then they teach them to fly, forage and hunt. An abundance of species can be found in our local harbors, inlets, marshes and ponds. These photographs were taken at Stony Brook Harbor, Mount Sinai Harbor and Setauket Harbor.