Tags Posts tagged with "Holtsville Ecology Center"

Holtsville Ecology Center

By Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven held its annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve on Thursday, Feb. 2. Many families with young children braved the frigid weather to hear a very important prediction from Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman, Holtsville Hal.

Before he read this year’s prognostication, Town of Brookhaven Superintendent Dan Losquadro gave a bit of history of Groundhog Day and how it began in Pennsylvania in 1886 but joked, “We like to say we have the most accurate weatherman. I know they’ve been doing it for longer there in Pennsylvania but Holtsville Hal is the real deal here. Punxsutawney Phil, he had his time; it’s time for Holtsville Hal now.”

At 7:25 a.m. sharp, before a crowd of several hundred spectators, the groundhog awoke from his slumber and saw his shadow,  which, according to folklore, means six more weeks of winter.

Superintendent Losquadro read Hal’s official 2023 prediction with help from the town’s newly appointed clerk, Kevin LaValle.

“As I stepped out of my burrow on this early winter morn’, I rubbed at my eyes and let out a great yawn. It soon became clear the crowd was not here for Honey Bear,  my prognostication was what everyone was waiting to hear.  Six more weeks of winter or an early spring? I know you can’t wait what my prediction will bring.  And so, at 7:25 a.m. on this brisk winter day, I have recorded my prediction and am sorry to say, at sunrise this morning I was startled to see, a shadow in the shape of … none other than me. I scurried back inside to return to my nap, not before reminding you to hold onto your mittens and cap. Spring will have to wait, Mother Nature is not through; six more weeks of winter you can look forward to!”

“I’m always hopeful Hal will predict an early spring and assist with my snow removal budget, but if his prediction proves to be correct, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature sends our way,” said Superintendent Losquadro. “I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out and take part in this fun, annual tradition.”

After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels courtesy of Bagel Lovers and hot chocolate from 7-Eleven and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks and its newest addition, Leo the Lynx. The center, which is open all year-round, also includes greenhouses, gardens, and jogging and exercise trails. For more information, visit www.brookhavenny.gov or call 631-451-5330.

Photo by Erin Hoeler

By Erin Hoeler

Looking for a new holiday tradition that the whole family can enjoy? Every year, the Holtsville Ecology Site transforms the main entrance leading to the zoo into a winter wonderland. On Dec. 10, the ecology site hosted the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. 

As visitors walked through the decorated area, they were welcomed with hundreds of lights and a beautiful Christmas tree ready to be lit. Sponsors of the event such as WALK 97.5, WBAB 102.3, My Country 96.1 gave guests the opportunities to win prizes, while restaurants such as Moe’s Southwest Grill and Texas Roadhouse gave chances for free food. 

When people entered the Harold H. Malkmes Wildlife Education and Ecology Center, they were greeted with lights and garlands swirled around the entranceway and the room. Many used this area to take festive family photos to use for their holiday cards.

“I’m joined with Councilman Kevin LaValle [R-Selden], and we are all here with one thing — to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday and celebrate despite the pandemic and this virus,” said town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). “We’re still here and we’re still going strong — and we’re going to have a great Christmas.”

Prior to the anticipated tree lighting, children were greeted by characters including Frosty the Snowman, Chase from “Paw Patrol,” Olaf from “Frozen,” and Mickey and Minnie Mouse with whom they could take pictures with. Vendors sold light-up swords and lightsabers for kids to enjoy and play with while they awaited the arrival of the guest of honor: Santa Claus. 

Photo by Erin Hoeler

The ecology site welcomed dancers from Michelle Ferraro’s Dance USA and Inishfree School of Irish Dance to the stage to help get the crowd ready for Santa’s big helicopter entrance. For musical pleasure, Laura Lorenzo sang “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and encouraged the audience to sing along. 

“Every year, Peter Boardman donates his helicopter to go up to the North Pole, pick up Santa and bring him back here,” said Dan Losquadro (R), town superintendent of highways. “You want to know why? Because we don’t want the reindeer to get tired.”

Santa’s helicopter circled above the crowd many times, getting the children excited for his grand entrance. He later arrived on his sleigh accompanied by the Holtsville Fire Department with many lights and sirens. Then it was time to light the big tree.  

At the closing of the event, LaValle added, “It’s great to be back, like the supervisor said. I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Be safe and enjoy the time with your family.”


Thousands of residents came out to enjoy the exhibits, including this one courtesy of Bloomin Haus Nursery, at last year’s Home & Garden Show. Photo courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

It’s back! The Town of Brookhaven will present its annual Home & Garden Show at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on March 23 and 24 and March 30 and 31 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..

The indoor event will feature dozens of vendor exhibits including landscaping, garden centers, stonework, garden structures, siding and windows, interior décor, gutters and more.

In addition, with paid admission, visitors can participate in free educational workshops and hands-on classes for children, as well as photos with the Easter Bunny. Classes and workshops are subject to change; a comprehensive schedule of seminars is available at www.brookhavenny.gov.

“The Home and Garden Show is an excellent opportunity for residents to support local businesses and reinvest in our local economy, while getting some unique ideas from our vendors’ displays,” said Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro.

“From building outdoor fireplaces and getting more creative with landscaping design to replacing fencing and walkways or even going solar, the Home & Garden Show features innovative ways to enhance your home, garden and property this spring,”  he added.

The cost of admission is $6 for adults; children 16 and under are free. Discounted tickets are available for prepurchase at www.brookhavenny.gov. Parking is free, as is the opportunity to visit with the Easter Bunny and walk through the animal preserve, which is home to more than 100 injured or nonreleasable wild and farm animals. In addition, each day attendees will have the opportunity to win services or merchandise raffled off by vendors.

For further information, contact the Ecology Site at 631-758-9664.

Children can discover the wonder of plants the Brookhaven Ecology Center next month. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Spring Pee Wee Gardening

The Town of Brookhaven Highway Department offers Spring Pee Wee Gardening classes for ages 3 to 5 at the Wildlife Education & Ecology Center, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on Thursdays, April 12, 19 and 26, May 3, 10 and 17 or Fridays, April 13, 20 and 27, May 4, 11 and 18 at either 10 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2 p.m. The children will learn about the environment, animals and plants through crafts and stories. $50 for six-week session. For more information, please call 631-758-9664, ext. 10.

Adult Horticulture Classes

The Town of Brookhaven’s Department of Highways will present Adult Horticulture Classes at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on Wednesdays, April 11, 18 and 25 and May 2, 9 and 16. Participants will learn about starting plants through propagation, growing vegetables from seeds, spring gardening techniques and unique gardening crafts. Fee is $50 for six-week session. Deadline to register is March 29. For more info, call 631-758-9664, ext. 10.

Holtsville Hal did not see his shadow this year, forecasts winter to come to an end soon

Brookhaven's famous groundhog, Holtsville Hal, predicted an early spring on Groundhogs Day. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

The snowflakes stopped falling moments before Brookhaven’s famous groundhog offered this year’s prediction — it was a good omen of what is to come.

More than 100 residents cheered as the famed Brookhaven Town groundhog Holtsville Hal did not see his shadow, an indicator that spring would come early this year.

“I’m happy,” said Dan Losquadro (R), Brookhaven superintendent of highways. “We love winter
here on Long Island. We love the kids to be able to play in the snow, but we don’t want winter
to last any longer than it has to.”

Hal made his 22nd annual Groundhog Day prediction at Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve at 7:25 a.m., as per tradition, according to the master of ceremonies Wayne Carrington.

Tradition says that if Hal — or, as he’s known in the Town of Brookhaven as a throwback to
the classic Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” the Great Prognosticator of Prognosticators
— sees his shadow when he wakes from hibernation, the community is in for six more weeks of winter.

“So he exited the ground, not a creature was stirring and not a shadow was found,” read
Losquadro from a large scroll to the cheers of onlookers. “I cannot tell a lie, my prediction so
accurate does not come from the sky. I saw what I saw in a blink of an eye.”

Those who attended were treated to free hot cocoa to warm up and celebrate the good
news. Both Losquadro and Carrington asked residents to make donations to the ecology
center to help support care for its animals and programs.

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Participants from the Walk a Day in Our Shoes event Sunday, Sept. 18, smile as they start their trek. Photo from Angela’s House

By Victoria Espinoza

More than 700 people walked a day in someone else’s shoes this past weekend.

Angela’s House, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization that offers support for families and children living with severe medical conditions, hosted its second annual Walk a Day in Our Shoes 3K Walk fundraiser at the Holtsville Ecology Center Sept. 18.

$45,000 was raised to help bring awareness to the organization’s cause. Limited options exist for families with children born and diagnosed as being medically frail, chronically ill or suffering from any type of life-threatening conditions when or if they leave the hospital.

Bob Policastro, founder and executive director of Angela’s House, said he was unaware of the limited options parents have until his daughter, Angela, suffered severe brain damage during birth, which left her very medically frail and in need of nursing care.

“The process is incredibly painful,” Policastro said in a phone interview. “You’re in this situation no one wants to be in, and you need to figure out how you’ll be there as a parent for your child.”

Participants from the Walk a Day in Our Shoes event Sunday, Sept. 18, smile as they start their trek. Photo from Angela’s House
Participants from the Walk a Day in Our Shoes event Sunday, Sept. 18, smile as they start their trek. Photo from Angela’s House

Policastro said he and his wife, Angie, had a hard time finding a specialized home or facility near where they lived in Hauppauge and eventually settled on a specialty hospital in Connecticut. The lack of services locally put additional emotional and physical strain on the parents because they were forced to travel more than two hours to spend time with their daughter in Connecticut. Angela eventually succumbed to her illnesses and died shortly after her first birthday.

The Policastros created the nonprofit in 1992 and since then have opened three homes in East Moriches, Smithtown and Stony Brook where children with serious medical conditions live and are cared for 24 hours a day.

The funds raised from the event will help continue the care in these three homes, as well as programs to help other families learn about the resources available for them and their loved ones who are struggling with life-threatening medical issues.

One mother wrote about her experience with Angela’s House. Her son Johnny required a tracheotomy and a feeding tube around five years old. She said as his condition worsened, she was no longer able to take care of him at home, and that’s when she found Angela’s House.

“Bob and his wife Angie have been working tirelessly to have a home built for children [whose] medical needs were too great for families to care for their child at home but whose family is on Long Island,” she wrote. “Johnny spent nearly 16 years at Angela’s House and during that time he has received excellent medical care and a tremendous amount of LOVE. The wonderful nurses and aides tirelessly provided Johnny with kisses, hugs and jokes. Johnny rewarded them with the simplest of gestures … his smile.”

The day included face painting, a D.J., a zoo and lunch provided by Applebee’s.

This female bobcat, named Surabi, lives at Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Proceeds raised at a bowling event on Sunday will be used to feed and care for the more than 100 animals that live at Brookhaven Town’s Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center.

Halloween Bowl for Animals will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bowl Long Island at Patchogue, and will cost $30 for adults, $20 for children and $10 for non-bowlers who attend. That price includes unlimited bowling, shoe rental, a buffet and dessert. Reservations are required.

“This is a great event for the entire family that will help to ensure the animals at the ecology site continue receiving the proper care,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a statement.

The spooky bowling fundraiser will include a costume contest — children are encouraged to dress as their favorite animal — and a 50/50 raffle.

To reserve lanes, register online at www.brookhavenwildlifecenter.org or call 631-758-9664 x11.

The bowling alley is located at 138 West Ave., Patchogue.

Supervisor Ed Romaine, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro and Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross pose with a 32-inch female American alligator turned in on Amnesty Day. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Long Islanders turned in three American alligators and eight turtles at a recent animal amnesty event in Brookhaven Town, and all of the reptiles are shipping up to a Massachusetts sanctuary.

Brookhaven’s Holtsville Ecology Center hosted the event on Oct. 10 to allow residents to turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning. It was the second annual event of its kind for the town, which operated with the help of those two agencies and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

People with dangerous or illegal animals were able to turn them over to professionals, no questions asked.

Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross called the recent amnesty event a success, saying the three alligators turned in “had the potential of ending up endangering the public.”

According to Brookhaven Town, the average length a fully grown female American alligator is a little more than 8 feet, and a fully grown male can be longer than 11 feet. Of the three alligators turned in, two were males, measuring 27 and 29 inches, and one was a 32-inch female.

“People should think twice before acquiring illegal reptiles or mammals,” Gross said in a statement from the town. “They do not make good pets and you are risking fines and possible jail time.”

At last year’s animal amnesty event, people turned in 25 animals, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets.

“These animals were turned in before the people harboring them as pets released them into the wild, creating a potentially dangerous situation in our local communities,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a statement about the alligators and turtles turned over this year. “These animals will now receive proper care without posing a threat.”

Owners of potentially dangerous animals have dumped them in public places in the past, creating a public safety issue. In late August, a 25-pound alligator snapping turtle was discovered in a stream of the Nissequogue River opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25. The reptile is not indigenous to Long Island — it is a freshwater animal with enough power to bite off a human toe or finger, and is usually found in places from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

“People need to understand that many exotic animals can be very dangerous if not handled properly or allowed to grow to their adult size,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “They are even more threatening if released into the wild, where they could harm people or other animals.”