After a long, cold winter that has spilled into April, it’s finally time to go outside. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will host its annual Spring Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 16, at the Stony Brook Village Center for anyone who wants to get some sun and stretch his or her legs to shake off the hibernation of winter.
“There’s a lot going on,” Marie Gilberti, communications manager for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization said in an interview last week. “We look forward once again to hosting this great day out in our beautiful village.”
The festivities, which begin at noon, will feature live music from the band Burke and Brenda (blues, country and Americana), a petting zoo from Rocking Horse Farm, animals up for adoption from ARF (Animal Rescue Fund) of the Hamptons, balloon artist Thoroughly Modern Lilly and radio station WALK-FM featuring Walkie Bear. There will also be a student art show titled Spring Into Art!, featuring artwork from students in the Three Village school district, in the Educational & Cultural Center and a kids craft area run by the WMHO Youth Corps.
The Stony Brook Village Center also features seven restaurants and over 30 stores including a cheese shop, wine store and gift and clothing boutiques that will be offering sales and specials during the event. Gilberti said that the organization is expecting “hundreds” to attend the events.
In addition, The Jazz Loft, which is located across from the Village Center at 275 Christian Ave., will be offering a sneak preview from 2 to 5 p.m. ahead of its official grand opening, which is slated for some time in May. The 6,000-square-foot, two-floor space will feature live music on both floors, as well as countless pieces of jazz memorabilia, instruments used by jazz legends, autographed pictures, original sheet music and much more. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
“We just want the people to enjoy the subject of jazz,” Gloria Rocchio, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s president said in a recent interview. “It is America’s art form. It was fading but with folks like [Jazz Loft president and founder] Tom Manuel there’s a revival in the interest. We’re excited to see people’s faces.”
Reached by phone, Manuel, who will be hosting the event, said that he hopes The Jazz Loft can fill a void on Long Island. He said if there are any jazz clubs or museums dedicated to preserving jazz memorabilia left on Long Island he’s not aware of them. His plan is to accomplish both of those goals. During his years as a jazz historian, music educator and trumpet player, Manuel has amassed about 10,000 pieces of jazz-related history. Rocchio estimated that about 50 percent will be on display at a given time, though the pieces will be rotated.
According to the WMHO’s website, donations to the collections continue to pour in and include a gold-plated trumpet belonging to Ernie Royal, an original script sent to Royal from Louis Armstrong for a planned Broadway show and Milt Hinton’s complete music studio.
“It is extraordinary in there,” Rocchio said about the building, which was constructed in 1909 as a firehouse and was expanded in the 1940s by Ward Melville. Rocchio said the floors are 75 years old yet look brand new. “It is a ‘wow,’” Rocchio said about walking into the Jazz Loft.
Manuel said that he envisions the new venue as being a haven for jazz lovers, and even surviving family members of early jazz musicians looking to reconnect with the art of their loved ones. Manuel said the last few posts on Facebook about the event garnered around 1,500 responses.
“This has been my dream for such a long time,” Manuel said. “The place will definitely be alive with the sound of jazz.”
Admission to the sneak peak at The Jazz Loft is $7 per person, children under 12 free; all other Spring Appreciation Day events are free of charge. For more information, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.wmho.org.