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Bob Savage

On Dec. 4, the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s Postman Pete collected letters from local children to give to Santa.

Children of all ages were welcomed to visit the historic William Miller House for cookies, refreshments and caroling led by local high school students, while mailing that all important letter to the North Pole. Postman Pete was on hand to stamp the letter and personally see that the letters get to Santa. Children will also receive a letter back from Santa.

Raffles and other proceeds from the event will benefit restoration of the 1720 home.

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The Miller Place field hockey team was named small school champion after shutting out Pierson/Bridgehampton 2-0. Photo by Bob Savage
Crystal Esposito reaches for the ball. Photo by Bob Savage
Crystal Esposito reaches for the ball. Photo by Bob Savage

By Desirée Keegan

The Esposito sisters continue to get the job done for Miller Place.

Crystal Esposito scored off an assist from her sister, Arianna, with 19:20 left in the first half. Arianna Esposito set up Jill Fazio for the other goal with 3:54 remaining in the game, to help the Panthers to a 2-0 pounding of Pierson/Bridgehampton for the Suffolk County Small School title Nov. 1.

Goalkeeper Ally Tarantino needed to make just one save in the win.

Prior to that, No. 1 Miller Place knocked off No. 2 Rocky Point, 2-1, for the Class B crown. In that game, Fazio scored the game-winning goal off a deflection from Julia Burns with four seconds remaining in double overtime. Arianna Esposito added a goal and was assisted by her sister.

Miller Place will compete in the Long Island championship Nov. 5 at Adelphi University at 3 p.m.

The lineup of the Veterans Comedy Assault Team. Photo by Bob Savage

Already working with homeless veterans, when VFW Santora/Bonacasa Memorial Post 400 Commander John Rago was approached to start a comedy act to benefit veterans, he said the decision was a no-brainer.

Under Project9line, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps veterans reintegrate back into civilian life and helps those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, founder Patrick Donohue came up with the idea and had veteran comedians come in and teach a class to other veterans on how to perform and write his or her own material.

In March of 2015, the Veterans Comedy Assault Team performed for the first time at the Sayville VFW Post 433. According to Rago, despite it being a snowy evening, they had to turn people away because of how packed the venue was. That’s when the group realized that they had something special.

Patrick Donohue, found of Project 9 Line, gets the crowd going. Photo by Bob Savage
Patrick Donohue, found of Project 9 Line, gets the crowd going. Photo by Bob Savage

“I thought it was going to be one and done, but we had so much fun doing it and got such a big response that we realized we had a good product that we could keep going with,” Rago said.

The group performed a few more shows and held another training class this January before performing at the Centereach VFW Post 4927 — a bigger venue was needed due to another sold-out show.

One of the comedians, “Tugboat” Manny Erias, who performs his own stand-up act three nights a week, helped the team get into the Broadway Comedy Club in New York City.

“I kept saying, ‘We’re a block and a half away from the Ed Sullivan Theater,’” Rago joked excitedly. “Soon. One day.”

The group also performed at Comix Mohegan Sun, a comedy club on the grounds of the casino in Connecticut, and most recently held a benefit show at the Moose Lodge in Mount Sinai after Rago was approached by a veteran and recent divorcee with three children, who was on the verge of becoming homeless.

“I moved here from Florida and went through a divorce,” said the mother, who asked to remain anonymous. “I used all my savings. I tried to do the best I could. It became difficult.”

She reached out to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program under the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and was turned away because she exhausted all of her resources. She said the VA told her because she wasn’t homeless yet, there was nothing else they could do for her, and that even if she was to become homeless, assistance was not guaranteed.

Audience member Elizabeth Trabold laughs during the show. Photo by Bob Savage
Audience member Elizabeth Trabold laughs during the show. Photo by Bob Savage

That’s when she called Rago’s office at the Suffolk County United Veterans Association for Mental Health and Wellness, where he is an outreach coordinator. When he heard about her situation, falling behind three months on her rent, he thought holding a comedy show to benefit her was the perfect solution.

So Rago made a call to Ron Romanska, who used to work at the Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency as an officer and is now involved in the Coalition of Veterans Organizations and a member of the Moose Lodge.

“I told him the story and that I wanted to do a comedy show and he said, ‘Okay, you want the Moose Lodge? You’ve got it.’ Just like that,” Rago said.

During the comedy show Aug. 27, which more than 100 people attended, the Veterans Comedy Assault Team raised nearly $2,500. The Moose Lodge chipped in $500 and the owner also handed Rago a personal check for $100, on top of the raffle prizes being donated from different stores and businesses.

“There’s nothing like making somebody laugh — it’s so much fun,” Rago said of the events. “Guys in the audience who suffer from PTSD tell us that for the hour and a half they had not a care in the world because they were laughing. It’s therapy.”

It’s also therapy for those involved, like Erias, a retired U.S. Navy Reservist who suffers from anxiety and depression, and goes to the Association of Mental Health and Wellness camps for help coping with his condition.

“We donate our time, money, energy and resources into this and it’s a great success,” he said. “There’s nothing better than helping someone else out by being able to do what we love. It’s the best feeling in the world. And you do it without looking for a return. I’m broke … I’m going for disability, my mother just passed away and I have so many things working against me to keep me down, but I go up there, and for me, it’s a coping skill. I make people laugh, and forget about life for a while.”

The 2016 Downtown Rocky Point Summer Concert Series, hosted in conjunction with VFW Post 6249, is underway. Following Swingtime Big Band on Tuesday, Southbound, a Long Island country and classic rock band, performed at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in downtown Rocky Point, at 614 Route 25A, Rocky Point.

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. and will help to support local businesses. Admission is free and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

“The Summer Concert Series provides a wonderful way for families and residents to enjoy local musical performances,” said Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Siani). “I encourage residents to join me at the concerts and to take advantage of the wonderful shops in downtown Rocky Point.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot, a Billy Joel tribute band, will perform at St. Anthony’s. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Strawberry Fields, the ultimate Beatles tribute band will perform.

In case of a cancellation, a rain date is scheduled for Aug. 30. For more information, contact 631-854-1600.

Scenes from the pet parade. Photo by Bob Savage

Over 120 patrons and their pets took part in Comsewogue Public Library’s 16th annual Pet Parade in Port Jefferson Station on Monday, June 27. The front lawn of the library was full of dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, birds, rabbits and even chickens who made a truce to get along for a day. A wonderful time was had by all.

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The chamber of commerce’s annual Easter parade and egg hunt returned to Port Jefferson on Sunday, March 27, bringing big smiles to the faces of local children. After walking through the village’s downtown area, the procession headed to the harborfront park so the kids could collect Easter eggs full of treats.

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By Bob Savage

Locals shaved their heads for a good cause on Saturday at Schafer’s restaurant in Port Jefferson, raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and research into childhood cancers.

Among those going bald were TBR News Media’s own Michael Tessler, who said goodbye to his curly locks.

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Port Jefferson was crawling with costumed characters and Christmas spirit on Saturday and Sunday for the 20th annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Residents and visitors took rides on horse-drawn carriages, met Santa Claus, heard music from the 19th century and checked out a puppet parade.

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By Joe Galotti

The Smithtown East football team’s defense gave an admirable effort in the school’s homecoming game Saturday afternoon, but in the end could not do enough to help the Bulls earn their first victory of the season. Visiting Copiague scored only once in regulation, but still came away with a 14-8 win, thanks to an overtime rushing touchdown by junior quarterback Ronald James.

“From top to finish it was the best game we’ve played all year long,” Smithtown East head coach Chris Denton said. “The result was tough — having to end the game like that, especially on homecoming, but our defense played a great game.”

Even with wet and windy weather conditions, Smithtown East was able to draw a large crowd of students and parents for the school’s homecoming festivities, but on the field, the Bulls did not give their fans much to cheer about in the first half, as the team’s offense struggled to move the ball up field. Both defenses were sharp through the first two quarters though, resulting in a scoreless game at the half.

The contest’s first points came 4:11 into the third quarter, when Eagles junior running back J’Quan Brown delivered a 7-yard rushing touchdown. James then connected on a pass to junior tight end Tyrone Browne on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, to give Copiague an 8-0 advantage.

Smithtown East provided a quick response to the Eagles strike. With 6:01 remaining in the third, sophomore running back Lauden Hendricks broke a 70-yard touchdown run, giving his team a much needed spark. The sophomore was able to find a hole on a rush up the middle of the field, and once he found an opening, used his speed to race into the end zone.

“It was a trap right call,” Hendricks said. “It was a perfect blocking scheme and a perfect block that got me up to the second level. Then I just had to run it.”

Denton was not surprised by Hendricks’ highlight-worthy run, and said that his team has seen that level of play from him before.

“Lauden is a fantastic athlete,” Denton said. “Once he gets hot, he gets really hot. And then we just let him run the ball.”

The Bulls tied the game at 8-8 when junior quarterback Anthony Voelker found sophomore wide receiver Andrew Durland in the end zone for the two-point conversion.

After the two quick scores, the game returned to being a defensive struggle. The Eagles threatened to score in the final minute of regulation, but Smithtown East’s defense held strong, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, each team was given a chance to start a drive at their opponent’s 20-yard line. The Bulls got possession first, and nearly punched the ball into the end zone, but were denied when Copiage senior linebacker Dylan Dixon forced a Smithtown East fumble just shy of the goal line. The Eagles recovered the loose ball.

On the fifth play of Copaige’s ensuing drive, James faked to his running back and ran three yards to the outside for the game-winning touchdown.

While the Bulls defense was unable to avoid a frustrating defeat, Hendricks still was pleased with the unit’s effort.

“I think our defense played as good as we have all year,” he said. “There were just certain moments where we gave up the big play, and were just in bad situations.”

Smithtown East will look for better results in the second half of their 2015 campaign, beginning this Saturday, when the Bulls travel to Half Hollow Hills East for their opponent’s homecoming at 1:30 p.m.

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Port Jefferson Yacht Club hosted its sixth annual Village Cup Regatta on Saturday, raising funds for pancreatic cancer research through the Lustgarten Foundation and for John T. Mather Memorial Hospital’s palliative medicine program.

The regatta pits the hospital and Port Jefferson Village against one another in a friendly competition for the Village Cup, a trophy which the hospital has now won two years in a row following a village reign of three years.

Participants raised about $64,000 for the cause through this year’s race, according to yacht club member Chuck Chiaramonte. The sum will be split between the Lustgarten Foundation and the palliative care program, which is focused on improving patients’ quality of life.

Chiaramonte said over the six years of the regatta, the event has raised more than $300,000.

The yacht club — formerly known as the Setauket Yacht Club — supplied the boats and captains for the event, which included a parade of boats, games and face painting for children at the harborfront park, and a trophy presentation at the adjacent Village Center.

Chiaramonte said the club looks forward to the event every year.

“It was really meant to just be a joyous occasion and share the love of the water and boating with our neighbors,” he said.