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Port Jeff

Members from the Port Jefferson Community Garden Committee at the Beach Street location. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Just in time for spring, Port Jefferson’s community garden is planned and ready to get started.

On March 15, the Village Board of Trustees voted an overwhelming “yes” to the new pilot community garden program. 

The idea behind it, Trustee Rebecca Kassay — who “planted the seed” on the project — said it would be able to give residents an opportunity to grow local, organic food and enjoy outdoor recreation together, while creating learning opportunities for its villagers. The garden would be dedicated to maintaining parkland and be a staple to the community.

And she felt that this quaint area could benefit from its own garden.

“I’ve been around vegetable gardens since I was born,” she said. “My father kept — and still keeps — an impressive half-acre in St. James.”

After completing a degree in Environmental Studies, she moved to Harlem where she found a tense neighborhood being gentrified had one common ground — Jenny Benitez’s community garden in Riverside Park. 

“It was in my time volunteering there that I most clearly saw how this simple human tradition humbles, delights and invites unity between people from all ages and backgrounds,” she said.

Since November 2020, a group of 11 residents volunteered their time to become part of the Community Garden Committee, hoping to launch the garden on an abandoned, vacant plot of land on Beach Street. 

Village gardener Caran Markson said that a long time ago, the land was once a playground with broken-down equipment. Since it was removed, it has been bare, looking for a new purpose.

“The property has been empty for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It was very underutilized.”

For months, the group researched, planned and eventually implemented a design for the village’s first community garden. 

A rendering of the potential community garden located on Beach Street in the Village of Port Jefferson. Photo from Rebecca Kassay

According to Kassay, the garden will initially consist of 16 raised beds, with some being double-high beds for residents with different abilities. The garden will be accessible to all.

“Beach Street is a great little spot for Port Jefferson Village’s first community garden,” she said. “It is a flat piece of underutilized village parkland with plenty of sun for residents to grow some organic veggies.”

But the best part is, the Beach Street plantings are set to begin this summer, and if the pilot garden project is successful, the committee expects to expand at the Beach Street site in 2022, and in subsequent years, create a second garden site at the Highlands parkland uptown.

Kassay added the group is also looking to pilot Port Jefferson’s first composting program at Beach Street, after some research of area-appropriate methods, pending community response.

“This large effort is anticipated between 2023 and 2024,” she said.

Markson said the 16 beds will be planted with vegetables.

“Outside of the raised beds, we’re going to hopefully a whole bunch of berries, maybe grapes, and we can plant native flowers just to beautify this village,” she added. “It’s going to pull the community together.”

On March 15, Mayor Margot Garant and the village board contributed $4,000 of village beautification funds toward the project, specifically to irrigation and raised bed materials. 

Committee members have already begun collecting in-kind and monetary donations from community members to meet the project’s $8,600 2021 budget and will be circulating donation material mid-April.

“No contribution is too small,” she said. “You can find a committee member for more information and/or to give a donation at the weekly Village Farmer’s Market starting May 2.”

Once established, the garden committee will raise money throughout the year with suggested-donation programming and fundraisers.

Kassay said they are looking to break ground on the project May 1, with a ribbon cutting July 10.

“I’m really looking forward to giving fellow residents the ability to grow their own produce,” Kassay said. “Whether it’s a fun family project, a way to cut down on grocery bills, a way to meet new people, part of a journey to better health … I’ve been fortunate to have access to gardens throughout my life, and now I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this with my community.”

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On Sunday, April 18 at 9 a.m.,  local nonprofit Hometown Hope —in conjunction with Seatow, Sheep Pasture Landscaping and Maggio Environmental — will be hosting a beach cleanup event at all Port Jefferson-area beaches. 

Volunteers will be dispersed across Centennial Beach, Belle Terre Beach, McCallister Park, West and East Beach. 

Grab a mask and some gloves and come help keep the local beaches beautiful.

Hometown Hope Port Jefferson provides and connects resources and support in times of need to all Port Jefferson village residents by promoting a movement of spreading kindness. 

Hometown Hope strives to uplift through wellness, resilience and compassionate understanding within the community. 

To find out more about Hometown Hope, or to sign up for the upcoming beach cleanup, visit their website at hometownhopepj.org.

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A prohibitionist drives a water wagon down Port Jefferson’s Myrtle Avenue. Temperance crusaders urged villagers to forego demon rum and drink nature’s bountiful gift, cold water. Photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

By Kenneth Brady

The campaign for a bone-dry Port Jefferson began during the 19th century. At the forefront of the movement, the Sons of Temperance was established in the village in 1848 and composed of members who pledged to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.

After the Sons disbanded in 1877, the Independent Order of Good Templars, Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), Young Men’s League and Prohibition Club were organized in Port Jefferson and continued the crusade against John Barleycorn.

The reformers sponsored debates, opened a mission on the village’s East Broadway and reported violations of the Sunday liquor laws. They also marched in parades, ran a temperance column in the Port Jefferson Echo, endorsed dry political candidates and organized rallies at Protestant churches.

The local activists joined lobbyists from the powerful Anti-Saloon League in supporting legislation that reduced the number of taverns in New York State. Retired sea captain Carman Howell of Port Jefferson served on Brookhaven Town’s 1917 Saloon Eliminating Committee that dramatically cut the number of taprooms in the area from 83 to 39. 

In Port Jefferson, the committee members gave the prized liquor licenses to barkeeps William Thompson, Annie Russell, Arthur Decker, Catherine Barker, Thomas O’Rourke and Arthur Feltman, but not to Frederick Reep, Walter Davis and Martha Henschel.

Following the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919 and the passage of the Volstead Act later that year, Port Jefferson’s victorious drys turned their attention to enforcing the new laws against the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating beverages.

Barker’s Hotel was located on the east side of Main Street in Port Jefferson. During Prohibition, its proprietor was arrested for violating the Volstead Act. Photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In 1920, villagers organized a local chapter of the Allied Citizens of America. Arthur Loper, president, and Julia Bonelli, vice president, both prominent residents of Port Jefferson, led the newly formed division that worked for a bone-dry Northern Brookhaven and cooperated with law enforcement agencies in achieving that goal. 

Thirty citizens, including respected villagers Ralph Dayton, Thaddeus Oettinger, George Darling and Roscoe Craft organized a Public Safety Committee, charged with investigating and correcting any of Port Jefferson’s moral or social ills.

Rev. John J. Macdonald, pastor of the Port Jefferson Presbyterian Church, was elected president of the Citizens’ League of Suffolk County, a vigilance committee comprised of ministers and laymen. They promised a relentless war against the bootleggers and rumrunners operating along the north shore of Long Island from Orient Point to Port Jefferson.

William Anderson, former superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League, addressed the congregation of the Port Jefferson Methodist Church. Well known throughout New York as the “bartender’s nightmare,” Anderson discussed “A Patriotic Protestant Protective Alliance Necessary for the Preservation of Prohibition.”

Dr. Oscar Haywood, a lecturer for the Ku Klux Klan, spoke at the Port Jefferson Baptist Church in 1924 and Athena Hall (Theatre Three) in 1925. Among its goals, the Suffolk County Klan called for strict enforcement of the 18th Amendment. 

Although facing considerable pressure to obey the dry laws, some villagers still flouted the Volstead Act. The proprietors of Barker’s Hotel (Main Street), the American House (East Broadway), and Bennett’s Restaurant (Main Street) were all arrested for serving hooch.

William Thompson, who ran the Ardencraig Bowling Alleys and Billiard Parlor (Arden Place), was twice convicted and fined for selling whiskey to shell-shocked veterans from the Vocational Training Institute at the Plant Hotel, now the site of Port Jefferson High School.

The authorities raided the Sundodgers, a private social club on upper Thompson Street, and dumped 16 cases of home-brew in the backyard. Federal agents also nabbed a man for distributing moonshine from his house on Liberty Avenue.

Customs inspectors boarded the Dragon when it docked in Port Jefferson, took the yacht’s cargo of gin and arrested the crew. Following a high-speed chase off Port Jefferson, a government patrol boat captured the Porpoise and seized its stash of contraband whiskey. The notorious Artemis was discovered in a Port Jefferson shipyard where she had been secretly towed for repairs. The rumrunner had been hit by gunfire in a furious battle with a Coast Guard cutter off Orient Point.

The majority of Port Jefferson’s residents soon tired of Prohibition and the problems that the dry crusade had engendered. Although the Prohibition Emergency Committee campaigned in the village to keep the Eighteenth Amendment intact, it was repealed by the states on Dec. 5, 1933. In each of the three election districts that then formed Port Jefferson, voters opposed to Prohibition prevailed. 

As wets celebrated their victory, dry’s met in the Port Jefferson Baptist Church and bemoaned their defeat. Bars and package stores quickly reopened in the village. The “noble experiment” had ended.  

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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Clifton “Kip” Lee, who served as Port Jefferson’s mayor from 1965 to 1971, is shown on the village’s Main Street. During his administration, Project Rejuvenation brought a “new look” to Port Jefferson and helped revive the village’s ailing downtown commercial center. Photo from the Michael F. Lee Collection

By Kenneth Brady

Gene Marvey could not stop thinking about the magazine article that he had just read. The story described how communities across America were reviving their failing business districts by following a simple plan. The same approach, thought Marvey, might succeed in rejuvenating the commercial area of Port Jefferson where he had a store.

“Old Towns Come Alive,” the article that had caught Marvey’s imagination, appeared in the March 1965 issue of the Rotarian and featured the work of Dr. Milton S. Osborne who had revitalized 42 communities in the United States.

Known as the “village restorer,” Osborne showed shop owners easy ways to dress up the facades of their establishments. The face lifting did not involve any structural changes or major expenditures, guaranteed local control over the project and maintained the architectural integrity of the subject area.

Marvey shared Osborne’s ideas with Port Jefferson’s mayor, Clifton “Kip” Lee and the village trustees, who voted unanimously to invite Osborne to Port Jefferson for a consultation and to underwrite the attendant fees.

Osborne’s method was simple: each merchant submitted a photo of his storefront. Osborne then prepared a sketch of the shop’s remodeled façade which served as a guide for the suggested renovations.

For $500 to $1,000 per building, estimated Osborne, a typical Port Jefferson merchant could reface his store by merely replacing shutters, hanging flower boxes, adding wrought iron railings, installing mullions and painting the shop’s exterior in harmonious colors.

The button was used to publicize Project Rejuvenation. The numbers refer to the July 4, 1967 weekend when Port Jefferson staged a summer festival to showcase its “new look.”
Photo from the Michael F. Lee Collection

These actions, explained Osborne, would preserve and enhance what he deemed was the semi-colonial character of the village. Osborne cautioned, however, that the effort would only succeed if there was cooperation between government and the business community.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce enthusiastically endorsed Osborne’s plan and formed a committee charged with implementing what became known as Project Rejuvenation.

With a target date of July 4, 1967 set for the plan’s completion, work on remodeling Port Jefferson’s storefronts began in earnest. Davis Comfort Corporation, fuel oil dealers on East Broadway, was the first firm to reface its building. Frank Hocker and Son, real estate and insurance agents on Main Street, was the second and Kella’s Steak House, located on Main Street a stone’s throw from the railroad station, was the third.

Opening in 1903, the Port Jefferson railroad station was in need of a face lift. The LIRR embraced the Osborne Plan and renovated the terminal’s stark interior and landscaped its dreary grounds. A sign at the depot celebrated the effort and proclaimed that the modernization of the station would create a “new look” at the “doorway” to the village.

As summer 1967 approached, merchants rushed to dress up their shops by Project Rejuvenation’s rollout on July 4. Along the village’s streets, residents joked they were unable to enter the very stores that were clamoring for customers because their paths were often blocked by the dozens of contractors laboring in Port Jefferson’s commercial center.

With the remodeling finally over, the Chamber reported that about 85% of the village’s shops had renewed their facades. The “unveiling” occurred during the July Fourth Rejuvenation Festival, which featured a parade, soap box derby, fireworks display, and other activities.

Measured by the Chamber’s goal of drawing crowds to Port Jefferson to show off the village’s spruced up shops, the event scored a hit. An estimated 25,000 people visited Port Jefferson during the festival weekend, but aside from its immediate effect, Project Rejuvenation had a lasting impact on the village.

Port Jefferson’s “new look” caught the public eye, put the historic seaport village on the map and sparked Port Jefferson’s commercial renewal by recapturing the tourist market that the village had once enjoyed but had lost to the ravages of time.

Despite this rosy picture, Project Rejuvenation had its detractors. According to critics, the Osborne Plan was to supplement Port Jefferson’s 1965 Master Plan, not became its substitute. Rather than tackling thorny problems that demanded long-range planning, some argued that Port Jefferson went with a short-term solution and kicked the can down the road.

Project Rejuvenation dealt with the village’s shops, not with its waterfront industries. While the Osborne Plan improved Port Jefferson’s storefronts, overburdened trucks still rumbled through the village’s downtown, driving potential customers away.

Although the architecture in Port Jefferson’s business district was eclectic, Project Rejuvenation prescribed an early American style. The results may have been pleasant, but they hardly reflected the village’s history. 

Upper Port Jefferson took a back seat during Project Rejuvenation. While the railroad station and some nearby buildings were refaced, most of the work occurred in the village’s downtown. Even the July Fourth Rejuvenation Festival was geared to lower Port Jefferson.

As with any innovation, the Osborne Plan had its drawbacks, but in recognition of its overall success, in 1968 Project Rejuvenation received the Long Island Association’s coveted Community Betterment Award. In addition, Marvey and Lee were honored in 1967 and 1968, respectively, with the Chamber’s prestigious “Man of the Year Award,” given for their outstanding contributions to the community, particularly their roles in Project Rejuvenation.

Over 50 years since the launch of the Osborne Plan, Port Jefferson remains committed to village improvement, continuing the mission of Project Rejuvenation in the revitalization initiatives of today.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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The crime scene outside Dunkin' Donuts in the village. Photo from Margot Garant

Suffolk County Police have made an arrest for the shooting death of a man in Port Jefferson on March 24.

Homicide Squad detectives charged Joseph Garcia, 19, of 11 Market St. in Port Jefferson Station, with Murder 2nd Degree.

Garcia was held overnight at the 6th Precinct and is scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip on March 28. The investigation is continuing.

On March 24, David Bliss Jr., of Shirley, was killed from a gunshot wound in front of 122 Main St. at approximately 3:35 p.m.

Bliss was transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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This photo by John M. Brown shows what is now the village’s East Main Street and captures the Port Jefferson Hotel on the left. The view is toward the Baptist Church and the intersection with Prospect Street. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

By Kenneth Brady

Two boys are shown sitting on a dock. The west shore of Port Jefferson Harbor is pictured in the background. Photo by John M. Brown. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Amateur photographer John M. Brown recorded life in Port Jefferson, his images conveying what it looked like and felt like to live in the village at the beginning of the 20th century.

Simple cameras, then for sale in Port Jefferson, had democratized photography, once largely the realm of professionals, enabling Brown and other laymen to take pictures of their surroundings.

Brown’s work contributes to our understanding of Port Jefferson’s past, but is unique in offering the unvarnished perspective of a common man, not the stylized view of a commercial photographer.

His straightforward snapshots of the village capture a variety of people, places, objects and events including bathers at the East Beach, Petty’s Confectionery, an American flag and sailboat races, respectively.

Brown’s direct photographs also include views of Port Jefferson’s yacht basin, Methodist Church, post office, ferry Victor, Athena Hall, residents, Parker’s Pond, school, Overton’s Agricultural Implements, and bank, all combining to create a shutterbug’s portrait of the village during the early 1900s.

Opening in 1900, the First National Bank was located on the corner of Main and East Main streets. This image by John M. Brown shows the building without its 1922 addition. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

Described in the Port Jefferson Times as “an enthusiastic photographer,” three of Brown’s one-of-a-kind shots of the Aug. 2, 1902 launching of the schooner Martha E. Wallace at the village’s Mather and Wood Shipyard were even made into printed post cards and then sold by local stationers.

Brown was appointed Port Jefferson’s postmaster in 1900 and served in that capacity until 1916. During his tenure, the village’s post office was upgraded to second class and its employees were required to take civil service examinations, a Postal Savings Bank was established, and Parcel Post was introduced. In 1911, the Port Jefferson Post Office opened at its new address, 202 Main Street.

Brown’s house in Port Jefferson, often the subject of his photographs, was moved to 105 Tuthill Street in 1929 from its former location on the northeast corner of Main and Tuthill streets where the New York Telephone Company subsequently built an office on the choice site.

Brown resided at his new address until March 1940, dying there at the age of 86. He was buried in Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery where his wife, Evelyn, had been interred in May 1930.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

Sharon Gatz-Philbrick, Christian Neubert and Erika Gronenthal are striving to help their neighbors in need. Photo by Ottilie Philbrick

By Courtney Rehfeldt

When three residents of Port Jefferson saw COVID-19 presenting a financial impact on community members, they decided to come together and form Hometown Hope Port Jefferson. 

Launched by Sharon Gatz-Philbrick, Erika Gronenthal and Christian Neubert, the trio works to assist those in need while bringing the community together during a difficult time.  

“At the peak of the pandemic, businesses and schools closed, leaving families struggling to make ends meet,” Gatz-Philbrick said. “Families faced much uncertainty as bills piled up, and paychecks didn’t come. There was a struggle to put food on the table, and grocery shelves were bare. The list of worries seemed endless and the need for support and hope became apparent.”

Remembering the kindness she personally experienced from Port Jefferson locals, Gatz-Philbrick wanted to return the favor. 

“In the midst of a challenging time, residents from the village did so many amazing things for my children and me,” she said. “I wanted to create an organization that continued these amazing acts of kindness. Alone we can do so little, and together we can do so much more.”

Besides providing a helping hand, Hometown Hope has connected local volunteers and businesses in a joint effort. 

“Port Jefferson village is a small town,” Neubert said. “In a place where everyone knows your name, we wanted to allow neighbors to help neighbors. One small act of kindness can lead to an entire town of encouraging acts of goodness and positive change.”

Hometown Hope provided Thanksgiving meal boxes and collected gift donations for the holidays, teaming up with Torte Jeff Pie Co. and other local businesses to fulfill their mission. Mather Hospital has provided donations, and the group has gotten support from Infant Jesus food kitchen and Rima Potter Designs.

“There comes a time in all our lives where we need assistance, it is a humbling moment, and we are hoping to pay it forward in our community,” Gatz-Philbrick said. “A little bit of kindness goes a long way. We don’t always see who is hurting or why, but we want to be there for them if they need extra help or assistance. We believe having a strong support structure is perhaps one of the most important steps to healing.”

In addition to collecting monetary or specific item donations, Hometown Hope Port Jefferson is also looking for volunteers to donate their time to help collect and distribute items as well as assist with future initiatives in the new year. 

People who live in the Port Jefferson Village who need to apply for help can be nominated through the organization’s website, or can contact the group through social media. The organization can be found on Facebook by searching Hometown Hope Port Jefferson. or online at hometownhopepj.org.

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Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a two-vehicle crash during, where one driver was seriously injured and the other fled the scene in Port Jefferson Station.

On Sunday,  Jan. 17 at approximately 10:30 p.m., a woman driving a 2002 Ford Explorer was stopped in the westbound left turning lane of Route 347, at the intersection of Sara Circle, when she made a U-turn in the vehicle and collided with an eastbound 2012 Toyota Prius.

The driver of the Prius, Deogracias Pablo, 65, of New York City, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The woman driving the Explorer fled the scene on foot.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

Staying active has been hard enough during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most indoor sports still have restrictions or are closed entirely, making it difficult for Long Islanders to keep them-selves occupied while living life under pandemic rules.

Yet luckily for some, there is one sport that has not let anyone down in 2020 — golf.

While other activities were cancelled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, golf courses like this one at the Port Jefferson Country Club became a popular pastime. Photo by Kimberly Brown

As the virus pandemic hit Long Island in March, golf became one of the most popular outdoor sports to play throughout last year. It is one of the few activities where contact is either extremely limited, or even nonexistent, as it can even be played alone.

General manager of the Port Jefferson Country Club, Brian Macmillan, explained how his business has done ex-ceedingly well given the circumstances.

“We saw a great increase in membership and play,” he said. “With many off of work or not losing time in their day-from-work travel, more people were on the course. It seemed to be the only safe activity for anyone to do.”

But the pandemic has created minor setbacks for some golf courses like PJCC. The shortage of cleaning supplies stunted the business for only a short time, but what became a bigger issue was the shutdown of production from golf companies.

“Keeping up with golf balls and gloves was an issue that hit later in the year,” Macmillan said. “The golf compa-nies shut down production for a period while product was in the highest demand ever. Getting products in the door was tough, but we found ways to use different companies to get our members what they needed.”

Besides the increased play, there were many positive attributes to come out of the pandemic. For example, the Wil-low Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai said COVID brought their members closer together as they com-bated the new mandates New York State implemented.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

“The challenges of 2020 triggered changes in how we operate on a day-to-day basis,” Robin Rasch, general manager of Willow Creek, said. “This strengthened our team here as we continue to evolve and adapt to COVID mandates.”

Without consistent loyalty from golf members, country clubs would have had a difficult time surviving. Thankfully, the businesses have been able to thrive while simultaneously bringing golf lovers together, at a safe distance of course.

“Eventually, golfers came to understand that being on the golf course was a safer place to enjoy the outdoors — the game of golf — and connect in a safer manner with friends,” Rasch said.

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Port Jefferson artist Jennifer Hannaford, right, along with Linda Alfin, left, revitalized the Dickens Festival mural present in front of Chandler Square just off Main Street. Photo from Hannaford

It’s a scene straight out of a Charles Dickens novel, and has been displayed every holiday season for years.

Featuring buildings covered in snow, a big decorated tree and a sign that welcomes visitors to the annual Dickens Festival in the Village of Port Jefferson, the mural was starting to look a bit worn, according to local business leaders. 

“The cutout is pretty old,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses were saying it was looking tired and asking if anything could be done.”

With the intention to clean up the painting and make it as good as new, Ransome asked two local artists to give the decade-old mural a facelift.

Linda Alfin and Jennifer Hannaford have been spending a good part of this past year decorating different spaces throughout the village. 

It started when Ransome and chamber president, Mary Joy Pipe, recruited the artists over the summer to decorate a set of electrical boxes and turn them into aquatic scenes in an attempt to beautify downtown.

“I’ve always understood that art can be powerfully transformative for a community, but engaging in this process has been fun because I get to see the change,” Hannaford said. “People also feel like their village is being cared for and, in turn, so are they.”

Since then, the pair has done several murals together throughout the village. 

“Linda is one of the most efficient painters I have ever seen,” Hannaford said. “I cannot say enough about her work ethic. I hope more folks take advantage of the fact that they have this kind of service and talent in their own town. I have learned a great deal from her this year.”

And the work didn’t stop for the artists come earlier this month. Alfin said that when Ransome called last minute asking if they could “freshen up” the scene, the two artists jumped on it. 

“The very next day we brought the mural back to life,” Alfin said. “Everyone walking by as we were painting was thanking us for repainting the mural.”

It took just two hours on Dec. 1 to make it vibrant, while the compliments and gratitude from residents touched the Port Jefferson muralist.

“A woman came up to us and was so happy to see us sprucing it up,” Alfin said.

While the Dickens Festival was canceled this year due to the COVID crisis, the snowmen in the scene can now greet visitors with a new smile, reminding them of what can hopefully be celebrated normally again next year. 

“I’m so happy to be able to help my town look more inviting and festive with all the murals we did so far throughout the village,” Alfin said.