Surreal Space Between Asleep And Awake

Northort fine art photographer Nicolas Bruno’s surrealistic scenes explore his experiences with sleep paralysis. His solo show, In Limbo, is at Haven Gallery through March.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Northort fine art photographer Nicolas Bruno’s surrealistic scenes explore his experiences with sleep paralysis. His solo show, In Limbo, is at Haven Gallery through March. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Imagine waking from sleep, not being able to move a muscle as visions of fears take over your sight, a scary scenario that has plagued local artist, Nicolas Bruno.

The Northport photographer has suffered from sleep paralysis from a young age, a condition that renders a person immobile, despite being consciously awake. Those who experience it cannot move or speak, feel pressure on their chest and will at times hallucinate frightening scenes. Bruno has channeled these experiences into his art as a form of therapy. This month, his latest exhibit, “In Limbo” will be shown at Haven Gallery in Northport until Mar. 31.

“My whole body of work is based on my experiences with sleep paralysis and how I transform them from something negative into positive artwork,” Bruno said.

This is Bruno’s first year in his own studio and feels he finally has “complete freedom” with his process and art. This will be his first time exhibiting sculptures and drawings of characters he met in dreams. He also recently debuted a jewelry collection directly inspired by his work.

“I’m really excited to share what I’ve been working on for the past year,” Bruno said. “I’ve been exploring a lot of deeper themes in my work, along with different mediums and creating new costumes and props.”

Bruno chose the title “In Limbo” because he believes it encapsulates the feeling of being stuck during sleep paralysis.

“With sleep paralysis, you’re stuck between the world of being awake and asleep,” Bruno said. “You’re just waiting for this horrible experience to end and you can’t do anything because you’re frozen in your bed.”

For this exhibit, Bruno went even deeper into his theme of sleep and dreams. His dark images pull inspiration from his own dreams and visions. He keeps in a dream journal in which he can sketch or jot down a few words after waking up.

“This helps me to express the feelings I’ve went through that are almost impossible to describe with words,” Bruno said. “Art is my universal voice to speak to anybody across the world.”

Many of Bruno’s photographs carry the dark presence of a nightmare and represent scenes he has witnessed while paralyzed in bed.

“To make these crazy, chaotic themes, I normally have to build everything,” Bruno said. “You can’t just buy something like a wishing well, I have to figure out how to create it myself. I would get insulation foam, then carve and paint it or I’ll pick up wood off the side of the road and repurpose it.”

Although Bruno outlines themes for his body of work, the artist wants viewers to make their own conclusions about pieces.

“I think it’s fun to explore the personal aspects of it,” Bruno said. “But I do leave it open to interpretation, since everyone interprets a dream differently.”

Bruno’s imagery often requires building elaborate props.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Bruno’s imagery often requires building elaborate props. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Bruno will often serve as his own model, immersing himself back into the scary scenes his mind has created. He will set up his camera on a tripod, then start an interval timer that snaps a picture every few seconds as he rearranges his poses and props.

“I almost relive these chaotic experiences because I’m wading through a murky pond or I have a mask on my face or maybe I’m bound in rope,” Bruno said. “But instead of not having any control, I have complete control of the scenario and can relive the experience with control, while creating something positive.”

Growing up on Long Island, Bruno has used his surroundings as a backdrop for his eerie images. His favorite environments to shoot in take him deep into the woods, marsh lands or by the ocean.

“I like to revisit areas that I went to as a child and found inspiration or comfort in going to,” Bruno said. “I remember when I was younger, my friends and I would run around there making up stories.”

Since he was a young boy, Bruno has been capturing images and ignited his passion with a disposable camera. But it wasn’t until he took art classes in high school that he realized this was a subject he excelled in.

“At the time, I was really just not sleeping, I would stay up for two days in a row, just because I would be afraid to go back to bed,” Bruno said. “Art was really my outlet.”

Bruno hopes his work reaches those who suffer from sleep paralysis, who can relate and be inspired to possibly work through the disorder with their own “pleasant therapy.” In the future, he would like to create a Virtual Reality experience that shows people what sleep paralysis feels like. To view his work visit nicolasbrunophotography.com.

A child’s dollhouse sawed in two creates the basis of this image.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

A child’s dollhouse sawed in two creates the basis of this image. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Message To Cancer Patients: ‘No One Fights Alone’

Commack Director of Athletics Pat Friel, Roseanne Simone, seniors on the varsity girls soccer team, and coaches Tracie Morenberg and Jack Bayer, show off blankets purchased for chemotherapy patients. The blankets read: “No one fights alone!”

Commack Director of Athletics Pat Friel, Roseanne Simone, seniors on the varsity girls soccer team, and coaches Tracie Morenberg and Jack Bayer, show off blankets purchased for chemotherapy patients. The blankets read: “No one fights alone!”

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Commack High School Girls Soccer program, along with the Commack High School Goal Club and the Commack Soccer League raised $6,000 to aid those with cancer.

They joined numerous schools and the Suffolk County Girls Soccer Coaches Association (S.C.G.S.C.A.) for the “Kicks for Cancer Fundraiser” that benefits cancer organizations and local families. Since 2008, Kicks For Cancer has raised more than $250,000 that has been donated to the Making Headway Foundation, American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House and many others. It was started by the Hauppauge Girls Soccer Program and coach Jesseca Kulesa after the team lost soccer family member Courtney Tomkin to brain cancer.

“Courtney has been and always will be an inspiration and has affected thousands of lives in so many ways both on and off the pitch and continues to do so to this very day,” the S.C.G.S.C.A. website reads.

The Commack contingent raised the second highest school total in Suffolk County with $6,000 donated. Varsity and junior varsity soccer players amassed this amount through raffles, bake sales and collecting donations at the Commack Soccer League field on weekends. CSL showed its support by selling pink soccer socks in October. The school’s Goal Club also lent a hand by organizing basket donations and concessions at the girls’ annual “Pink Games”.

As thanks, Kicks for Cancer allows the teams to choose where a portion of their raised funds will be donated. They selected a fund chosen by Commack Soccer League board member and cancer survivor Roseanne Simone.

“Roseanne’s determination was the motivation behind this community venture,” Commack coach Tracie Morenberg said. “Through the great efforts of many, the Commack High School Girls Soccer Program knows the true meaning of ‘It takes a village to pay it forward.’”

Simone’s wish was to give back to the center that helped her through her own battle with breast cancer. In January, she was able to deliver 200 blankets for chemotherapy patients at the NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center in Huntington where she was treated.

Supermarket Puts Plastic Bag Fees To A Good Use

IGA owner Charlie Reichert, left, Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta, right, and Fort Salonga IGA’s manager Ryan Ceriello pictured last year when Reichert announced he would donate the store’s plastic bag fees to Huntington Hospital.

IGA owner Charlie Reichert, left, Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta, right, and Fort Salonga IGA’s manager Ryan Ceriello pictured last year when Reichert announced he would donate the store’s plastic bag fees to Huntington Hospital.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The owner of two IGA markets in the Town of Huntington donated the proceeds from Suffolk’s 5-cent plastic bag fee – nearly $18,000 – to Huntington Hospital.

Charlie Reichert of Northport pledged last February he would donate to the hospital the money his IGA markets in Fort Salonga and East Northport brought in as a result of the county’s fee on single-use plastic bags. The two stores collected $17,810 in fees during 2018, according to hospital officials.

The county law requiring retailers to charge a nickel per plastic bag used by a customer was approved by the Suffolk Legislature in September 2016, and implemented at the start of last year.

Reichert said he came up with the idea to donate the fee after he heard customers complaining about having to pay a nickel for plastic bags, and that the money was just going back into the retailer’s pockets.

Reichert and his wife Helen have been major donors to Huntington Hospital, and the money from the plastic bag fee will go towards the newly opened Center for Mothers and Babies. The center provides 19 private rooms for mothers and their babies complete with sleeper sofas for a significant other, hospital officials said.

“Charles and his family’s generosity has helped Huntington Hospital to continue to provide cutting-edge medical care to the people of Suffolk County,” Huntington Hospital’s executive director Dr. Nick Fitterman said.

Officials from Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer’s office said they are still putting together a report with data on the impact of the bill, but preliminary information from the Food Industry Alliance of New York State indicates member stores saw an 80 percent reduction in plastic bag usage over the first three quarters of 2018.

Councilman Joins Ex-Rangers On The Ice

At a charity hockey to benefit youth hockey are, from left, back row: rink maintenance worker Jerry Reikert; rink manager Matt Naples; Rangers Brian Mullen and Colton Orr; Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth; skating instructor James Chang; assistant rink manager Kevin Young and Mike Graziano.

At a charity hockey to benefit youth hockey are, from left, back row: rink maintenance worker Jerry Reikert; rink manager Matt Naples; Rangers Brian Mullen and Colton Orr; Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth; skating instructor James Chang; assistant rink manager Kevin Young and Mike Graziano.

By Charlie Crudup
info@longislandergroup.com

Ed Smyth considers himself a decent hockey player. Though it’s been a few years since he has played with a team, the Huntington Councilman agreed to lace up his skates for a charity game.

Smyth found himself on the ice last Saturday for a New York Rangers Assist charity game to benefit youth hockey. Skating alongside Smyth and other parents of youth hockey players were a handful of former New York Rangers.

Darius Kasparaitis and Ron Duguay anchored Smyth’s Team Blue, and Brian Mullen and Colton Orr skated for Team White.

The former Rangers regularly “come out of retirement” to play fundraising games through the New York Rangers Assist.

Saturday’s event at the Dix Hills Ice Rink raised $60,000 for Long Island Rebels Hockey Association and the Dix Hills Ice Rink.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be able to do this after my career.” Orr said.

Kasparaitis opened the scoring and he and Orr kept the score close.

“They were pretty much able to score at will,” said Smyth of the pros.

Team Blue beat Team White, 13-11.

Smyth ended the game with his teeth intact and his wallet lighter, but it was for a good cause.

“It’s always better to get in and get your hands dirty rather than talk about it.”

Art League Shows Top Student Artists

Walt Whitman High School student Reyha Mete depicts city spaces in “Stuggle.” She plans to pursue art in college.

Walt Whitman High School student Reyha Mete depicts city spaces in “Stuggle.” She plans to pursue art in college.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Youth artists shine at “GO APE,” an exhibit featuring work by high school Advanced Placement art students from across Long island at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills.

Schools were asked to submit up to four student pieces, highlighting a variety of media from drawing to sculpture to photography. The exhibit gives young artists a chance to display their work and develop experience working with galleries.

“It’s great reassurance that after all the hard work we’ve put in these years, our work can be showcased and more than just the people from our school get to see it,” Half Hollow Hills student Elizabeth Gordin said.

Her art teacher Allyson Uttendorfer believes the show is important for flourishing students.

“I think it shows them the professional side of exhibiting,” Uttendorfer said. “It shows them what’s to come if they do pursue art and what to look forward to. It also boosts their confidence, that they get to see their work, which is so strong, amongst other really talented students from Long Island.”

Half Hollow Hills HS East’s Giavanna Castro’s radiant work, “Sun Catcher” is among works by top student artists at the Art League of Long Island galleries in Dix Hills.

Half Hollow Hills HS East’s Giavanna Castro’s radiant work, “Sun Catcher” is among works by top student artists at the Art League of Long Island galleries in Dix Hills.

This year 24 students from seven Town of Huntington high schools will be among the 142 artists exhibiting. They are Giavanna Castro, Rachel Goldsmith, Elizabeth Gordin, Evelyn Shanoff, Madeline Bay, Francisco Chong, Ryan Kenny, Avery Schwartz, Nina Bernnardo, Katie Farkas, Emily Graziano, Nick Paul, Kristen Impicciche, Katya Jaworsk, Emma Mason, Shannon Wines, Anna Edwards, Diana Fogel, Reyha Mete, Cyrus Pekarek, Ryan Eno, Katie Long, Jason Saporito, and Kelly Williams.

Uttendorfer had to choose two works to represent Half Hollow Hills. She selected “Good For The Sole” by Gordin and “Sun Catcher” by Giavanna Castro.

“I take into consideration skill and finished product, but also pay attention to whose are working really hard,” Uttendorfer said. “The girls are really talented, they’ve both been at the top of the class.”

Each photographer captured subjects in a unique, exciting way utilizing effects. “Good for the Sole” comes from the project, “Faceless Portraits” where Godrin puts emphasis on the color reflecting off the shoes. While Castro’s piece sees the sunny side.

“Good For The Sole” by Half Hollow Hills AP art student Elizabeth Gordin.

“Good For The Sole” by Half Hollow Hills AP art student Elizabeth Gordin.

 “I utilized a suncatcher to take the picture, I put it over the lense of my camera to get those distinct rainbow lines,” Castro said. “I thought this would really contribute to my concentration and added a lot of character to the piece, especially with my friend smiling.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to have the community come together to see the art we’ve been making for all these years,” Castro said.

Both students are very excited and proud to have their work hanging on the gallery walls.

They are also eager to view other student’s work and techniques, like Walt Whitman senior Reyha Mete, who utilized watercolor to create “Struggle.”

The work will be on display at the Art League of Long Island Feb. 16 through Mar. 3 when awards will be given at an Artist’s Reception, from 1-3 p.m.

Mount Misery's Woods Get The Amityville Treatment

A film set for release in May explores the history and legends surrounding Mount Misery Road in West Hills.

A film set for release in May explores the history and legends surrounding Mount Misery Road in West Hills.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

A road that goes far back in Huntington’s history with a few stories of its own, sets the scene for a new, independent horror film, “Amityville: Mt. Misery Road” that is set for release this May.

Growing up in Old Bethpage, Chuck Morrongiello recalls hearing rumors and legends throughout his years at school of the haunted road and woods of Mount Misery in West Hills. As avid horror enthusiasts, Morrongiello and his wife Karolina ventured into the forest during a trip to visit his family and came out with the idea for their first horror film.

“I grew up in this area and had always heard about Mt. Misery Road. We basically got enthused by the history of Mt. Misery Road,” Chuck said. “I went online and started reading story after story.”

The myths of Mt. Misery Road are familiar to generations of Huntington residents. Grandparents and teenagers alike have their own tales of the location. As directors, actors and musicians, the Morrongiellos wanted to be the first to bring these stories into the genre of horror. Chuck wrote the movie’s entire screenplay in just three days.

“Nobody has really touched this area,” Karolina said. “We thought it was a really cool subject, that many people talked about from generation to generation.”

MountMiseryFilm_1.jpg

The couple play Charlie and Buzi, Floridian ghost-enthusiasts who are intrigued by Mt. Misery Road after their friend shows them photographs he took of floating orbs in the woods. The pair venture into the woods to see if the stories of the Hellhound, Mothman and Mary are true.

“Our film is about the story of Mary, the asylum and a couple that’s not taking any direction from people that are warning them to stay away,” Chuck said.

Legend has it the plot of land was sold to settlers by Native American tribes with a warning.

“The settlers were warned ... to stay away from that area because it was cursed,” Chuck said. “There have been sightings in the sky of strange lights, the settlers noticed that nothing grew on the hill slopes and it was very difficult to navigate through the rocky terrain. They also had seen a Hellhound-like creature with bright red glowing eyes and their livestock was disappearing or found mutilated throughout the woods. People would go missing as well.”

In the movie, 150 years later an asylum is built in the woods to keep the mentally ill away from society.

“The asylum was burned down, as the story goes, by a deranged patient named Mary, and she basically killed everyone in the building,” Chuck said. “There’s been sightings of ghosts walking in the woods, and people still hear moans and groans coming from the woods today.”

During Chuck’s time in high school, Mt. Misery Road was a hotspot for teenagers on Halloween night. Teens would congregate together and go off in search of a spirit or creature. There wasn’t a street light in sight in the woods of Mount Misery, and the darkness contributed to the eerie feeling.

“Everybody knows about Mt. Misery Road,” Chuck said. “The other day we were at a local get together and heard grandparents talking about it, their kids discussed it and even their grandchildren knew about it.”

“Amityville: Mt. Misery Road” will be released by ITN Studios in May. The film has already received praise at movie festivals, like the International Horror Hotel Festival in Ohio.

Get Your Dose Of Karma At The Paramount

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma,playing the Great South Bay Music Festival, above, will play to the home crowd when they open for TR3 at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma,playing the Great South Bay Music Festival, above, will play to the home crowd when they open for TR3 at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma is stoked to hit the stage of The Paramount this week. The band opens Friday for one of their musical influences, Dave Matthews Band guitarist Tim Reynolds and his band TR3.

Gnarly Karma has a dynamic sound that anyone could love. They are composed of singer and guitarist Mike “Manicotti” Renert; drummer Jarrod “Rock” Beyer; bassist Ryan “McMagic” McAdam; saxophonist Billy “Bad Bones” Hanley; and lead guitarist Adam “Sklarface” Sklar.

All are locals: Menert is from Cold Spring Harbor; Beyer, McAdam and Hanley from Elwood; and Sklar from Syosset.

The band has dreamed of playing at The Paramount for years.

“It’s something that we’ve been working towards since we started,” Renert said. “Growing up, I always went to the city to see shows and wished there was someplace in Huntington to see concerts. When the Paramount opened, we said, ‘We’re gonna play there. We might start out opening but one day we’ll get to headline.’”

Formed six years ago, Gnarly Karma has gained notoriety for their eclectic music style and spirited live performances at venues like Long Island’s Great South Bay Music Festival, Alive After Five in Patchogue Village, and South by Southwest Music Festival, in Austin, Texas.

Gnarly Karma band memers, from left, are: Billy Hanley, Jarrod Beyer, Mike Renert, Ryan McAdam and Adam Sklar.

Gnarly Karma band memers, from left, are: Billy Hanley, Jarrod Beyer, Mike Renert, Ryan McAdam and Adam Sklar.

But for Gnarly Karma, the Paramount gig is a home game. Renert said he couldn’t put into words the excitement he felt knowing he would be playing for his home community on Friday.

“The goal was always to get into The Paramount on the main stage. We’re super-pumped about that,” Renert said.

The band’s music appeals to a broad audience, and each member brings his own musical perspective. Beyer’s drumming is influenced by Latin rhythms, Hanley loves Motown and funk, Sklar is into all things classic rock, while McAdam prefers modern alternative rock. As the singer/songwriter, Renert focuses on his lyrics and wants listeners to connect with them.

“We all bring a flavor to the song and when it all comes together, it’s really something that everyone can listen to,” Renert said. “I love that we all have different musical influences.”

One of Renert’s inspirations happens to be headliner, Tim Reynolds, who he idolized as a songwriter with Dave Matthews. He remembers going to sleepaway camp, when first learning to play the guitar and his counselor played him “Dave and Tim Live at Luther College” on cassette.

“That album is timeless for me, I listen to it all the time,” Renert said. “When I think of acoustic song-writing, I think of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on that album. It’s really unbelievable. I would always listen to it and say Tim Reynolds lead guitar playing is amazing, and now we’re opening for him.”

Gnarly Karma will be releasing new songs this year and hope to perform at more gigs across the country. Catch them open for Tim Reynolds and TR3 on Friday, Feb. 1. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15-40.

Audiences ‘Rave On’ For Engeman’s Buddy Holly

By Janee Law
info@longislandergroup.com

It’s no surprise that the John W. Engeman Theater’s production of “Buddy–The Buddy Holly Story” received a standing ovation from the audience during its Jan. 19 showing, as cast members kept the crowd moving and singing to the songs from start to finish.

Audience member Teresa Oliver, of Huntington, said this is a production that can’t be missed.

“Everything was excellent,” she said. “It got everybody moving, everybody dancing, and everybody was getting involved. I loved it”

The audience journeys back to 1957 to witness the true story of American musician Buddy Holly (Michael Perrie Jr.) and his historical raise to fame until his tragic death less than two years later. Instead of leaving the crowd with the sadness over the singer’s sudden death, the production focuses on pulling the audience in to celebrate his life and musical brilliance. Throughout the production, the ensemble also brings the crowd to act as a live audience for Buddy’s concerts and performances.

Audience member Frank Carino Jr., of Huntington, said the cast’s interaction with the crowd was awesome and everyone from his group “lost their voices during the show.”

“It was definitely an entertaining evening for all age groups,” Carino said. “It was honestly better than some of the Broadway shows I’ve seen, hands down.”

Engeman’s production is directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews, with musical direction by Angela C. Howell. The ensemble had the audience grooving and rocking to more than 20 of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits, including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” “Oh Boy,” “Not Fade Away,” “Rave On” and “Raining In My Heart.”

In act one, Buddy Holly & the Crickets’ performance of “Oh Boy” will have the crowd saying “oh boy” as cast members energetically strum the chords and use their instruments as a bass—no pun intended—for entertaining stunts.

During the productions electrifying finale, which features Buddy’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Ritchie Valens’ (Diego Guevara) “La Bamba” and The Big Bopper’s (Jayson Elliot) “Chantilly Lace,” the energy from the audience was in full force, singing, clapping and dancing to each number.

Leading the stamina on stage is Michael Perrie Jr., who portrays the corky and ambitious Buddy Holly. Perrie brilliantly embodies Buddy’s musical talents and unwavering drive to follow his dream.

After Saturday’s show, Perrie said having the opportunity to play Buddy has always been a dream for him.

“I love playing Buddy Holly because he was a genius and he was a great inspiration for me,” Perrie said. “This was the first show I ever saw as a kid that got me into theater and so it’s very full circle for me to come back and do it.”

He added that every show brings a new discovery in his role as Buddy. “This production and this cast are phenomenal. They make me feel like there’s a new Buddy in there that I’m finding every time. It’s a wonderful experience.”

Other leading cast members include Sam Sherwood as Joe Maudlin, Armando Gutierrez as Jerry Allison and Eric Scott Anthony as Norman Petty.

Performances of “Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story” will continue until March 3 at the 250 Main St. theater in Northport Village, with showings on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are also select Wednesday showings at 8 p.m. and Sunday showings at 7 p.m.

Tickets ($73-$78) are available at the box office or online at Engemantheater.com.

Museum Volunteer Sees Himself On The Wall

Retired docent Tom Campbell was the inspiration for a student artist Grant Fryc’s mixed-media work, “Erudite,” in Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum.

Retired docent Tom Campbell was the inspiration for a student artist Grant Fryc’s mixed-media work, “Erudite,” in Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

In his 13 years as a docent at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Tom Campbell delved into the history of art and even found himself among the artwork on the walls.

His retirement follows years of engaging conversations, self-taught knowledge of artists and exhibits, and a resolute dedication to being a volunteer docent. His responsibility was to educate and speak with patrons about the pieces of art; informing them on the artist, the conflicts they faced while working, and styles utilized.

“A docent is the face of the museum, to the visitor,” Campbell said. “As a result, you are the host or hostess, so everyone that comes into the museum, you should make an attempt to introduce yourself and talk to them about the exhibition.”

Campbell feels that artists are “of their time and place,” expressed in their thoughts and feelings towards contemporary issues in their art. For hour-long tours, Campbell was responsible for explaining the story of 15-20 pieces.

“The first couple weeks an exhibit is up, there’s still a lot to get used to,” Campbell said. “When you see an image for the first time, regardless of any background given, it is a different entity.”

His favorite part of being a docent was, “telling the story of what images were and talking to people.” Campbell found each person has a different perspective toward a piece, based on their own life.

“I loved to get people to talk about the pieces and what they see in it,” Campbell said. “A visual image is how you are responding to it. I can have one response and come from an entirely different background, than yours.”

Campbell loved engaging his audience, which inspired student artist, Grant Fryc to use Campbell’s image for a mixed-media work.

“I happened to be doing a presentation of a bust of George Washington and I see this young man taking photographs and I wonder, ‘What is this guy doing? If he wants a picture of the bust, he could wait until I’m done.’ I slowly came to a realization that he was taking pictures of me,” Campbell said.

Fryc was on a mission to find a piece of art in a local museum that inspired them for the Long Island’s Best: Young Artists competition. In Campbell, Fryc saw his vision.

“I guess him and the young lady were impressed by the fact that, of the four museums they had gone to, I was the only docent who really paid attention to them,” Campbell said.

Campbell felt he was just doing his duty and wasn’t even aware Fryc took his image to create a piece justly titled, “Erudite”, until the exhibit came to Heckscher. When Campbell gave tours of the exhibit, patrons would be shocked and delighted to see their docent in the artwork. The piece would later win the U.S. Congressional Art Competition and hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year.

“Everytime I look at it, I’m impressed,” Campbell said. “Having someone paint your portrait is for famous people.”

Tim Reynolds To Play New Album At The Paramount

The Tim Reynolds Trio, from left, bassist Mick Vaughn, guitarist Tim Reynolds and drummer Dan Martier, will debut music from TR3’s newest album “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

The Tim Reynolds Trio, from left, bassist Mick Vaughn, guitarist Tim Reynolds and drummer Dan Martier, will debut music from TR3’s newest album “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Before becoming a lead guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band or touring with Matthews as half of an acoustic duo, Tim Reynolds started his musical adventure with the Tim Reynolds Trio.

The Tim Reynolds Trio, or TR3, is set to release a new 11-song album titled “The Sea Versus The Mountain” on Feb. 1, the same day the band is slated to take the stage at The Paramount in Huntington.

Reynolds, 61, described the new album as “a little bit prog rock, but more of a zen prog feel.”

“This record was a fully realized effort for me,” Reynolds said. “It’s mostly instrumental, so I’m really psyched that the guitar is the main voice on the record.”

Reynolds said the show at The Paramount would be one of the first times TR3 will perform songs from “The Sea Versus The Mountain” in front of a live audience.

“That’s what’s really exciting about this tour for me,” Reynolds said. “It’s a little scary, but also exciting.”

Like almost all of his previous music, the new album features a variety of music styles, from “an industrial song” to an “ambient song.”

“That’s my mode,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds, along with bassist Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier, experimented with the songs in the studio to create “a lot of cool stuff we haven’t done before.” TR3 spent a few weeks together in house out in the North Carolina woods where the trio recorded “The Sea Versus The Mountain.”

“As a musician I love to create and improvise, and it was really satisfying to get to do that in this environment,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds settled on the title for the album because he was “trying to find something to fit our work.” He said the dichotomy between sea and mountain mirrored the “light aspect and dark aspect” of the music.

“It had kind of an epic sound to me that fit the music,” he said.

TR3 is set to debut “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets range from $15-$40 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Huntington Photographer Turns Lens On 'Alternative' South

Lucas Foglia’s images of families living sustainably and independently in the South is featured in an exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.” Among the photos, “Andrew and Taurin Drinking Raw Goat's Milk” was shot in Tennessee during 2009.  Photos by Lucas Foglia

Lucas Foglia’s images of families living sustainably and independently in the South is featured in an exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.” Among the photos, “Andrew and Taurin Drinking Raw Goat's Milk” was shot in Tennessee during 2009. Photos by Lucas Foglia

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Huntington Station native Lucas Foglia is documenting an evolving vision of the South with his photographs that depict a modern counterculture movement.

Having grown up on his family’s Fox Hollow Farms, Foglia has been drawn to nature and sustainability from a young age. After receiving a degree in art from Brown University and MFA in photography from Yale University, Foglia hit the road in the South finding families who live self-sufficiently. Like Foglia’s family, who grew a major portion of their food and bartered their goods with others in exchange for local products and service, these families rely on themselves for their own sustenance.

“The lifestyle we had was a mixture of agriculture and suburbia,” Foglia said. “When I went to photograph in the South East, the people I met were living with the same value system that I grew up with, but to more of an absolute.”

Foglia’s work will aid the visualization of the region through the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South.” A collaboration of more than 50 photographers, the traveling exhibit will hang in Charleston, SC; Raleigh and Durham, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Meridian, MS; and Baton Rouge, LA.

Foglia titled his piece of the project “Natural Order.” It shows a contemporary counterculture movement from the region. “Some people might remember hippie communes in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “My project in the context of this show illustrates the communities that are thriving today.”

“Rita and Cora Aiming” was shot in Tennessee during 2007.

“Rita and Cora Aiming” was shot in Tennessee during 2007.

The project took Foglia five years to complete. He photographed around a dozen communities in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia. Foglia was enchanted by the landscapes and beauty, but even more fascinated by the lifestyles.

“When there were early signs of the global economic recession, I was interested in photographing people, who had chosen to live as self-sufficient a lifestyle as possible,” Foglia said.

Foglia’s mother, storyteller Heather Forrest, connected him with fellow storyteller Doug Elliott, who made the introduction to a network of people who had left cities and suburbs to take up life “off the grid.”

“Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or the global economic recession, they chose to build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather or grow their own food. All the people in my photographs aspire to be self-sufficient,” Foglia said.

Detached from the outside world, the people in these communities maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle.

“Todd after a Haircut” was taken in North Carolina during 2008.

“Todd after a Haircut” was taken in North Carolina during 2008.

 “I was fascinated that as the recession went into full force, the people I was photographing were unaffected,” Foglia said. “They lived independently from the mainstream economic system.”

Each community Foglia captures has its own habits and practices. Some families choose to live in wigwams made of entirely tree bark; others -- former nuclear engineers – dressed and acted like Mennonites.

“The families I photographed in North Carolina were practicing earth skills,” Foglia said. “Tanning and wearing animal hides for clothing, starting fires by friction, hunting and gathering their food. The families in Tennessee and Kentucky were focused on living in the fashion of Mennonites, off-grid and survivalist, but more agrarian.”

America’s South East is an ideal region for families to live self-sufficiently without needing much money, thanks to its cheap land, fresh water springs, long growing seasons, the availability of deer for hunting, and philosophy of freedom.

“It was easy to have an alternative lifestyle without interference from the neighbors,” Foglia said. “Locals believed in independence, libertarianism, live-and-let-live.”

Photographer Lucas Foglia’s images of families living off the grid in the South are featured in the exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.”

Photographer Lucas Foglia’s images of families living off the grid in the South are featured in the exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.”

The photographs taken during Foglia’s time with the communities give an immersive look at the world of sustainability, from a mother teaching her daughter how to shoot a gun, to a young boy looking at his new haircut in the reflection of a river. Foglia’s dynamic images feel natural and instinctive.

“They’re moments that happen in everyday life,” Foglia said. “I am actively photographing and the people I photograph know that I’m there.”

Foglia will continue his journey to explore humans’ connection to nature in a wired world with future projects. Currently, he lives in San Francisco and just completed his third book, “Human Nature.”

To learn more about “Southbound” and view the exhibit, visit southboundproject.org.

That Whitman Can Sell Just About Anything

Walt Whitman’s words and persona have been tapped by marketing gurus for decades to sell everything from cars to cigars. Above, an advertisement for Old Crow Bourbon imagined the poet to be an admirer of the spirit.

Walt Whitman’s words and persona have been tapped by marketing gurus for decades to sell everything from cars to cigars. Above, an advertisement for Old Crow Bourbon imagined the poet to be an admirer of the spirit.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Walt Whitman’s influence as a poet and free thinker is well-established, but the Huntington-born poet’s reach extends beyond the literary world. Marketers over the years have tapped the poet’s persona to sell everything from cars to cigars.

Whitman was re-imagined for the modern day in a 2016 Volvo commercial that read from his poem “Song of the Open Road.” His poems “America” and “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” were employed for a Levi’s jeans commercial in 2009.

Both follow more than a century of branding and advertising that aligned products with perceptions of the poet as a distinguished intellectual (John Hancock Insurance advertisement, 1952) with discerning taste (Old Crow Bourbon, 1960). Whitman’s image sold tobacco, hotel rooms, ice cream and espresso.

Whitman-branded cigars were sold in the 1900’s. More recently his words have been evoked to sell cars and blue jeans.

Whitman-branded cigars were sold in the 1900’s. More recently his words have been evoked to sell cars and blue jeans.

“It indicates that the general public and marketers find a value in Walt and want to align themselves with his image to sell their products,” said Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace where a new exhibit highlights use of the poet’s brand in advertising.

The exhibit, “Walt Whitman’s Prose and Poetry in Products and Advertisements” will run from Jan. 16 to April 7 and is drawn entirely from the collection of Birthplace member Ed Centeno. Centano has amassed an expansive collection of Whitman-related items that includes advertisements, posters, commercial products and fine art.

Centeno has displayed and at times, donated pieces from his collection before but never at this magnitude. At first, he planned an exhibit of posters that quoted Whitman’s work, Shor said, but she encouraged him to bring in everyday products with his likeness as well.

“There are many ways to capture history,” Shor said. “One way is to capture it in its commercial value, which is what this exhibit does. It’s a way of looking back and seeing what society thought was important, what they were selling and how they were selling it.”

A contemporary men’s fashion campaign was built around Whitman’s words.

A contemporary men’s fashion campaign was built around Whitman’s words.

A possible reason why Whitman’s work has stood the rest of time and continues to find its way into advertisements may be because it “resonates into modern society,” Shor said.
“Walt had a vision during his own lifetime and his poetry expressed the vision of universality and transcendence… His words were transcendent, meaning they went beyond the time,” Shor said. “This is why his work is applicable in the 21st century.”

Whether it’s a cigar box or an advertisement for whiskey, Whitman’s image is found in advertising spanning over a hundred years. Each instance provides a “snapshot” of the culture at that time.

“They’re indicative of their time, these are the styles, these are the words they used, and this is where they fit into society,” Shor said. “I think it gives us a mirror into that society by looking at objects from the past.”

Centeno will discuss his 33 years of collecting, why he collects and how the exhibit came to fruition a public reception at the Birthplace on Jan. 13, 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit waltwhitman.org.

Paramount Earns Five Spot In World Rankings

Healthy ticket sales kept The Paramount in Huntington firmly in the no. 5 spot for club venues worldwide according to  Pollstar  magazine.  Photo/The Paramount

Healthy ticket sales kept The Paramount in Huntington firmly in the no. 5 spot for club venues worldwide according to Pollstar magazine. Photo/The Paramount

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

For the second consecutive year, The Paramount in Huntington village has claimed the number five spot in Pollstar Magazine’s list of the top 200 club venues in the world based on ticket sales.

The Paramount sold 178,265 tickets in 2018 to over 170 shows behind only The Pageant in St. Louis, 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, House of Blues Boston and top seller The Anthem in Washington, DC.

“After 7 years, the venue has proven itself to be a top destination for the best entertainers around,” Brian Doyle, co-owner of The Paramount, said. “We will continue to push the envelope in 2019 as we work to provide Long Islanders with the best music, funniest comedians and the most memorable live event experiences available.”

In 2018, the stage at The Paramount played host to shows by the likes of Slash, Blues Traveler, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Ratt, O.A.R., Chase Rice, Indigo Girls and metal band Underoath.

The Paramount also brought several artists to Huntington for the first time this year, including: Rick Astley, Sarah McLachlan, The Struts, Bret Michaels and The Beach Boys.

The Paramount Comedy Series has become one of the most successful and popular aspects of the venue. In 2018 it featured monthly performances of The Jim Breuer Residency and multiple nights with comedian Kevin James. Standup routines by Andrew Dice Clay, Ken Jeong, Aziz Ansari, Jim Norton, Iliza Schlesinger, Weird Al Yankovic and Tracy Morgan were among the most popular shows at the venue this year.

The versatile venue also hosted regular bouts of Joe DeGuardia’s STAR Boxing. In November former world light welterweight champion and Huntington native Chris Algieri made his comeback in the ring at The Paramount. In his first fight since 2016, Algieri defeated fighter Angel Hernandez in front of a sold out crowd.

In 2019, The Paramount will look to maintain their top five spot on Pollstar’s list with performances by Long Islander Chazz Palminterti, movie star Dane Cook, Dave Matthews’ guitarist Tim Reynolds, Judas Priest and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

To find out more about upcoming shows at The Paramount or to buy tickets visit Paramountny.com.

PSEG, Moonjumpers Help WWII Vet At Home

Morris Koffer thanks PSEG Long Island employee Frank Moorhus who organized volunteers to do yard work on the 96-year-old WWII veteran’s property.  PSEG photo

Morris Koffer thanks PSEG Long Island employee Frank Moorhus who organized volunteers to do yard work on the 96-year-old WWII veteran’s property. PSEG photo

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

An Air Force veteran received a thank you for his service when more than 20 volunteers from PSEG Long Island and Moonjumpers lent a hand to spruce up his property.

As a way to give back to the community, employees of PSEG Long Island together with volunteers from Moonjumpers, charitable organization descended on the home of Morris “Monty” Koffer and his wife, Edith, to trim back overgrown trees and shrubs, pick up leaves and debris and give the property a thorough sprucing. The team filled a 20-yard dumpster with debris.

At 96 years old, Koffer, a World War II veteran, hasn’t been able to keep up with the yard work like before.

“When I learned of Monty and Edith’s situation, I knew that my company and co-workers would step in to help,” PSEG meter technician, Frank Moorhus said. “Everyone was so enthusiastic and made a real difference for this couple, which shows the true spirit of giving during this holiday season.”

After Moorhus saw the state of their residence, he turned to his PSEG Long Island’s volunteer group.

“When you’re 96, yard work and housecleaning are not chores that come easy,” Moorhus said.

Volunteers from PSEG Long Island and Moonjumpers helped WWII veteran Morris Koffer clean up his home and yard.  Moonjumpers photo

Volunteers from PSEG Long Island and Moonjumpers helped WWII veteran Morris Koffer clean up his home and yard. Moonjumpers photo

Volunteers spent over six hours removing 20 yards of yard waste and home debris from branches to acquired home items to three-year-old leaves. The Melville veteran was delighted to see his home return to an exceptional condition.

“I asked my wife – she had to pinch me because I can’t believe what I see here,” Koffer said. “Everything is done. It was like a wild forest with dead branches all over the yard. It’s amazing to see how they cleaned it up. They did a remarkable job. It’s beautiful. It looks like a new house. We’re very, very thankful.”

The dumpster, funded by Moonjumpers, was filled with waste from the couple’s yard, basement and garage. Moonjumpers was eager to get involved with the project after board member, Ray Homburger, who works for PSEG Long Island asked for help.

“They reached out to us to see if we could support them in a financial manner,” Moonjumpers president, Robert Benson said. “Since they were looking to do hands-on work and clean up the veteran’s premises, not only did we fund it, we sent some of our people over there to do some work as well.”

Moonjumper board members were happy to help a veteran as a way of thanking him for his service. Beginning in 2011, their mission is to help improve and support the lives of people in need, within the community.

“Part of our mission is to help support veterans and people in need in the community,” Benson said. “This actually reaches out to both, so it was a great opportunity.”

PSEG Long Island participates in many charity events and projects. Learn more about their work at psegliny.com/page.cfm/Community. Anyone interested in volunteering with Moonjumpers, can email robert.benson@nationalgrid.com. They are searching for their major project of 2019 and know they will need around 80 skilled volunteers.

Hospital Gala Benefits Patient Care Programs

Honoree and Huntington Hospital board member James Romanelli stands with Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinnaci, Jennifer and Dr. Nick Fitterman, and board chairman Keith Friedlander.  Photos/Huntington Hospital

Honoree and Huntington Hospital board member James Romanelli stands with Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinnaci, Jennifer and Dr. Nick Fitterman, and board chairman Keith Friedlander. Photos/Huntington Hospital

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Huntington Hospital’s annual gala was a celebration that raised funds, honored one of its own and introduced a new campaign.

The annual gala was held at Pine Hollow Country Club on Nov. 30. Since its beginnings in 2006, the gala has functioned as a fundraiser for hospital initiatives that advance health care within the community. This year, the gala surpassed its goals, raising nearly $400,000.

Going back in Huntington Hospital’s history, philanthropy has been essential from the beginning.

“Fundraising is instrumental and the driving force of our innovations at Huntington,” Dolli Bross, associate director of special events and gala organizer, said. “Our first gift was the building donated by Cornelia Prime in 1914.”

Hospital supporters at the gala, from left, are: Stanley Gale, board member and Kean Develpoment CEO John Kean, board member and Daniel Gale Sotheby’s Real Estate CEO Patricia Petersen, and Huntington Hospital’s former executive director Gerard X. Brogan, Jr.

Hospital supporters at the gala, from left, are: Stanley Gale, board member and Kean Develpoment CEO John Kean, board member and Daniel Gale Sotheby’s Real Estate CEO Patricia Petersen, and Huntington Hospital’s former executive director Gerard X. Brogan, Jr.

Except for the hospital’s 100th anniversary gala in 2016, this year’s gala raised the largest amount ever. Donations will be utilized to purchase new hyperbaric chambers and equipment for the hospital’s interventional radiology unit.

“Northwell’s commitment to Huntington’s growth, coupled with this community’s generosity is a powerful combination that’s vital to our success,” board chairman Keith Friedlander said. “It is you fueling our momentum going forward.”

The gala is not only a fundraiser, but also a “friendraiser”, with the hospital taking time during the event to educate guests on their leadership and programs. Attendees were a mix of board members, medical staff, local officials, business owners, influential community members, and patients, each with their own background and impact.

“The more ambassadors who know the services we are providing, the more ambassadors that can help us educate our community on the services available,” Bross said.

The hospital’s chief of staff, James Romanelli, MD, was honored for his leadership and commitment to Huntington Hospital. The Cold Spring Harbor resident has been treating patients since the 1990s as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, later becoming the hospital’s chief of surgery from 2000-2012 and a member of the board of directors. He was presented an award and gave a “heartwarming” speech.

“He talked about how Huntington has been a part of his life for almost ever and he couldn’t imagine not having the hospital right here in our community,” Bross said.

Among guests who learned about the hospital’s programs and leaders, from left, are: William Healy, Jr., Caroline Monti-Saladino, and Arthur Saladino.

Among guests who learned about the hospital’s programs and leaders, from left, are: William Healy, Jr., Caroline Monti-Saladino, and Arthur Saladino.

The gala brought the hospital’s best to the forefront, officially launching Northwell’s “Outpacing the Impossible Campaign.” The program will set out to improve hospitals and clinical programs, advance research and teaching initiatives, and support capital projects.

“Every gift to this campaign fuels our ability to disrupt expected standards,” Friedlander said. “Across Northwell, we believe in the power and impact of taking on challenges and going where others won’t. All you have to do is look around at all of the progress that’s been made at our hospital and local care locations.”

Outpacing the Impossible will support Huntington Hospital based on community needs.

Initiatives will be identified and met  thanks to nearly $500 million that has been raised since the campaign’s start in January 2016.

“The generous donations raised at this year’s gala will help Huntington Hospital continue to provide state-of-the-art healthcare to the residents of Suffolk County,” executive director of Huntington Hospital, Nick Fitterman, MD, said.

As a conglomerate of hospitals and care providers, Northwell will use their funds to grow and enhance the entire network that spreads across New York state. The $1 billion campaign will allow improvements to take place that will advance the non-profit organization, as research and information is shared.

“It lets everyone across our whole footprint know exactly what Northwell Health can do to help them all throughout their lives,” Bross said.

Music ‘DooWopified’ By Doo Wop Project

Broadway veterans, from left, Sonny Paladino, Dominic Nolfi, Dominic Scaglione, Dwayne Cooper, Russell Fischer and Charl Brown, trace the evolution of doo-wop on stage as The Doo Wop Project. They are slated to perform at the Paramount in Huntington on Jan. 13.  Photo/The Doo Wop Project

Broadway veterans, from left, Sonny Paladino, Dominic Nolfi, Dominic Scaglione, Dwayne Cooper, Russell Fischer and Charl Brown, trace the evolution of doo-wop on stage as The Doo Wop Project. They are slated to perform at the Paramount in Huntington on Jan. 13. Photo/The Doo Wop Project

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

From the classic sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s to the most popular songs on the radio today, The Doo Wop project sings them all in the iconic harmonies of the doo-wop era.

The six-man Doo Wop project traces the evolution of the musical style from origins with groups like the Crests, Belmonts and Flamingos through the sounds of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and The Four Seasons. The band also puts an original spin on songs by modern musicians like Michael Jackson, Jason Mraz and Maroon 5.

The popularity of doo-wop music peaked in the early 1960’s, and features vocal group harmonies.

The Doo Wop Project’s members have some serious doo-wop chops; each has performed on Broadway in at least one musical featuring songs from the era.

Charl Brown originated the role of Smokey Robinson in “Motown: The Musical.” Dwayne Cooper was a cast member of “Motown: The Musical” and “Hairspray.” Russell Fischer performed in both “Jersey Boys” and “Big.” Dominic Nolfi is an original cast member of “A Bronx Tale,” “Motown: The Musical” and “Jersey Boys.”

Dominic Scaglione is best known for his starring role as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.”

The groups musical director Sonny Paladino served as musical supervisor for the Broadway musical “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.”

The Doo Wop Project uses their Broadway background to recreate the authentic sounds of doo-wop classics. The majority of the groups music stems from this earlier era, but they also spend significant effort reimagining more modern music with a doo-wop twist.

Audience members of all ages will recognize something from the wide range of music The Doo-Wop Project performs at their live shows. Doo-wop classics can bring back memories for older generations, while younger crowds enjoy “DooWopified” versions of today’s hits.

The show at The Paramount later this month is part of The Doo-Wop Project’s tour that began last year and runs until February.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show at The Paramount on Jan. 13. Tickets for the show range from $29.50-$49.50 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Huntington's Top Holiday Decorators

The Town of Huntington’s annual Holiday Decorating Contest, sponsored by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, awarded some nifty prizes to some spirited holiday decorators.  Town of Huntington photos/Doug Martines

The Town of Huntington’s annual Holiday Decorating Contest, sponsored by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, awarded some nifty prizes to some spirited holiday decorators. Town of Huntington photos/Doug Martines

Judges have named the best in Huntington’s Holiday Decorating Contest, sponsored by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson along with Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. The annual contest, now in its fourth year, encourages Huntington residents to get into the holiday spirit by decorating their homes with displays of lights, garland, wreaths and anything else they can imagine.

“Every year it gets better and better,” Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said. “Supervisor Lupinacci and I had a wonderful time visiting people’s homes and seeing their individual expressions of the holiday spirit.”

The Supervisor agreed.

“It was difficult picking a winner. Every house scored a perfect 10 in my book,” Lupinacci said.

The Creegan house at 24 Wells Place, Huntington Station, won first prize in the Town of Huntington’s Holiday Decorating Contest.   Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

The Creegan house at 24 Wells Place, Huntington Station, won first prize in the Town of Huntington’s Holiday Decorating Contest. Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Judges visited the homes of 18 finalists selected from among dozens of online entries.

Donnie Creegan of Huntington Station was the big winner for an outdoor display that keeps growing and growing.

For Creegan, it all started about five years ago with the purchase of a six-feet Santa. Every year since he has added pieces or another theme to the display. This year, a  Nightmare Before Christmas section joined Santa, the Grinch, life-sized elves and reindeer amid giant lollipops made from pool noodles. Mason Creegan loves helping his dad with the set-up, and neighborhood children get into the act dropping letters into Santa’s mailbox.

And don’t think the decorating stops at the door. The Creegans have a 15-foot Christmas tree inside and decorations throughout the house.

Three trees and collectibles accumulated over 40 years are impeccably displayed in the Schwarz home at 28 Gwynne Road, Melville. The displays earned second place honors.   Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Three trees and collectibles accumulated over 40 years are impeccably displayed in the Schwarz home at 28 Gwynne Road, Melville. The displays earned second place honors. Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Second place winners Francine and Eddie Schwarz win two free tickets to any show at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, and an overnight stay at Oheka Castle for their meticulously decorated Melville home.

The Schwarz house is decorated down to the sink with Christmas-themed collectibles. The couple has been collecting and decorating for 40 years and every year friends and family add to the collection.

Their home features three decorated trees: a Precious Moments tree; another decorated with Santas; and a live tree in the kitchen decorated with nutcrackers and little bears. A train set under the family tree is a tribute to Con Ed where Ed worked for more than 30 years.

Assembling it all is a task that they love to do together. It takes more than two weeks to set everything in its place.

The third place-winning display at the Amodeo family home at 64 Oakly Drive, Huntington Station.   Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

The third place-winning display at the Amodeo family home at 64 Oakly Drive, Huntington Station. Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Third place winner Robert Amodeo of Huntington Station caught the bug for over-the-top decorating 25 years ago when he helped his father light up their home in Bethpage. When he moved to Huntington in 2011 he brought the tradition with him.

“All my friends and family know it’s a passion of mine,” Amodeo said. “I try to add something new every year. I love bringing the sense of holiday spirit to the neighborhood, the reaction of the children and neighbors who stop by to take pictures and view our set up.”

The Amodeos’ children, Isabella 8, and Anthony 4, love watching their dad set up the decorations.

“It helps keep that fire going,” Amodeo said. “My wife Cathy also enjoys the outdoor decorations, and knows how much I enjoy doing it.”

The Amodeos win a $175 gift certificate to Honu Kitchen and Cocktails in Huntington village, and an overnight stay at Oheka Castle.

All winners also receive a one-year subscription to The Long-Islander, and judges brought holiday cookies from Copenhagen Bakery to all of the finalists.

Judges brought holiday cookies from Copenhagen Bakery to all of the finalists.   Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Judges brought holiday cookies from Copenhagen Bakery to all of the finalists. Town of Huntington photo/Doug Martines

Cuthbertson and Lupinacci expressed gratitude to the contest’s sponsors: The Paramount, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, Honu Kitchen and Cocktails, and OHEKA Castle whose prize packages provided incentive to contestants.

Here’s the full list of winners:

FIRST PLACE: The Creegan Family 4 Wells Place, Huntington Station

FIRST PLACE: The Creegan Family
4 Wells Place, Huntington Station


SECOND PLACE: The Schwarz Family 28 Gwynne Road, Melville

SECOND PLACE: The Schwarz Family
28 Gwynne Road, Melville

THIRD PLACE: The Amodeo Family 64 Oakley Drive, Huntington Station

THIRD PLACE: The Amodeo Family
64 Oakley Drive, Huntington Station

HONORABLE MENTION: Toniann Bartscherer 26 Makamah Beach Road, Northport

HONORABLE MENTION: Toniann Bartscherer
26 Makamah Beach Road, Northport

HONORABLE MENTION: The Kielawa Family 13 Weston Street, Huntington Station

HONORABLE MENTION: The Kielawa Family
13 Weston Street, Huntington Station

HONORABLE MENTION: Carmine and Saundra Morello 110 Majestic Drive, Dix Hills

HONORABLE MENTION: Carmine and Saundra Morello
110 Majestic Drive, Dix Hills

HONORABLE MENTION: The Barfuss Family 29 Penelope Lane, Huntington

HONORABLE MENTION: The Barfuss Family
29 Penelope Lane, Huntington

HONORABLE MENTION: Christopher Mangi 39 East Main Street, Huntington

HONORABLE MENTION: Christopher Mangi
39 East Main Street, Huntington

HONORABLE MENTION: The Tomeo Family 16 Mansfield Lane So, East Northport

HONORABLE MENTION: The Tomeo Family
16 Mansfield Lane So, East Northport

Rock In The New Year '80s Style

Lead singer Jenna O’Gara will perform ’80s hits with Jessie’s Girl this New Year’s Eve at The Paramount in Huntington.

Lead singer Jenna O’Gara will perform ’80s hits with Jessie’s Girl this New Year’s Eve at The Paramount in Huntington.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandernews.com

It’s becoming something of a tradition at The Paramount to ring in the New Year with the sounds of the biggest musical hits from the ’80s.

Once again ‘80s cover band Jessie’s Girl will provide the New Year’s Eve soundtrack at the Huntington village venue, and the party promises to be a good one. Jessie’s Girl always creates a unique atmosphere, engaging fans through costumes, lighting and staging techniques. The goal is to transport the audience back to the ’80s.

The band’s lead singer, former Dix Hills and Cold Spring Harbor native Jenna O’Gara, belts out ‘80s hits from names like Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and more.

Jessie’s Girl is used to performing in front of an energized crowd. In addition to regular shows at The Paramount, the band plays over 100 shows a year, including every Saturday night at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

O’Gara said she enjoys connecting with the fans during live shows.

Jessie’s Girl’s keyboardist and musical director Paul “Sky” Armento said the band members are excited to play next week’s show at The Paramount, especially since it falls on a fun-filled holiday.

“It’s going to be a great New Year’s Eve,” Armento said. “The popularity is what makes it fun.”

Jessie’s Girl has become almost a monthly regular at The Paramount, so they know how to put on a good show for the Huntington audience.

“It’s a super interactive show, and it’s nice because you can build a really good fan base,” O’Gara said.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and the show is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 and carry on into the new year. Tickets for the New Year’s Eve show range from $25-$55, and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Encouraging Holiday Shoppers To Buy Local

Shoppers at last year’s Shop-A-Thon.

Shoppers at last year’s Shop-A-Thon.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Take to the Main Street on Saturday, Dec. 15 from noon - 4 p.m. to shop superb sales and grab a bite to eat at over 25 participating businesses during the Cold Spring Harbor Holiday Shop-A-Thon.

Businesses the Main Street and pop-up shops, featuring locaLI bred and Revival, will offer discounts up to 30 percent off. This is Cold Spring’s second annual Shop-A-Thon hosted by Lucky To Live Here Realty.

“We incentivise people to shop local and buy their holiday gifts on Main Street, as opposed to shopping online,” Ashley Allegra, Director of Marketing said. “It’s kind of our way of giving back by coordinating this event.”

The Shop-A-Thon map helps shoppers plan their browsing and buying.

The Shop-A-Thon map helps shoppers plan their browsing and buying.

To spread holiday cheer, Lucky To Live Here Realty will be visited by The Grinch at their office, 129 Main Street from 1-3 p.m. and congressman Thomas Suozzi will judge holiday window displays at noon. Enjoy the beautiful sound of St John's Choral Group as they carol through the streets.

Host the perfect holiday party after coming to a complimentary Hosting the Holidays Workshop at their office from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Get tips for tablescapes and entertaining from Noli Design, while sipping and sampling brunch bites. Email team@luckytolivehere.com to RSVP.

Not only does the Shop-A-Thon encourage residents to buy local, but also draws in customers from all over the Island. This gives them a taste of what Cold Spring is all about.

“Cold Spring Harbor has a completely different feeling and charm about it,” Allegra said. “You’re right near the water, you have this small community… It’s different than most places on Long Island, it’s a great town to experience.”

The Shop-A-Thon is sure to become a holiday tradition that will go on for years to come. You can’t go wrong shopping up and down Main Street, meeting store owners and being able to see and touch something before you buy it.

“If you don’t support the businesses here, they could go away,” Allegra said.  “It’s not gonna look like how it does on Main Street, it’s not gonna have the same feeling of small mom-and-pop shops, if we don’t help them grow, especially nowadays with online shopping.”

Kick off the Shop-A-Thon by visiting Lucky To Live Here Realty’s office to pick up a reusable tote and town map full of sales. Earn raffle tickets every time you spend $25 at select shops and drop them off by 3:45 p.m. Three winners will be drawn for gift baskets valued over $800.

Murals Brighten New Rooms At Library

Library Director Joanne Adam, Founder of Splashes of Hope Heather Buggee, artist Tiffany Bedell, Branch Manager Mary Kelly, and Librarian for Youth and Parent Services Corinna Jaudes display murals created by Splashes for new rooms at the library..

Library Director Joanne Adam, Founder of Splashes of Hope Heather Buggee, artist Tiffany Bedell, Branch Manager Mary Kelly, and Librarian for Youth and Parent Services Corinna Jaudes display murals created by Splashes for new rooms at the library..

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The walls in the Huntington Library’s Station branch will look a lot cheerier thanks to colorful murals donated by Splashes of Hope.

The non-profit organization works to brighten orphanages, hospitals and shelters by creating colorful murals. The hope is that seeing the murals will make those going through difficult times smile.

Splashes of Hope designed, painted and delivered one massive mural for the library’s teen room and two smaller ones for the kids room, each with Splashes’ signature whimsy and vibrancy. These murals are supported and sponsored by the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation.

“We think the mural will create a very uplifting and educational environment,” Heather Bugée, founder of Splashes of Hope said. “It’s something that could be inspiring for the teens. And it’s a reflection of the care and thoughtfulness that the librarians have to try to help the kids in the community to better themselves through education.”

After hearing about Splahes’ contribution to a library in Riverhead, Huntington Library Director Joanne Adam reached out to the organization. The Huntington Station branch recently underwent renovations after taking over a second floor, making it the perfect fit.

“We recently moved the teen room and we’ve been furnishing it to make it more teen-oriented,” Adam said. “This sort of completes it by putting the mural up.”

These finishing touches will create an atmosphere that is more child friendly, while also being educational and bringing a “good feeling,” Adam said. “They’re very uplifting to look at.”

Splashes of Hope volunteer Jimmy Knapp shows off the mural recognizing its sponsor, the Claire Friedlander Foundation.

Splashes of Hope volunteer Jimmy Knapp shows off the mural recognizing its sponsor, the Claire Friedlander Foundation.

With the expansion the library can offer far more activities and materials for kids of all ages to enjoy.

“We can spread out and give them a bigger space,” Adam said. “The teen room is twice the size of what it was before. It is very nice.”

Both murals set scenes of fantasy. In one a train with a bookworm conductor runs through the library. Another features animals enjoying the waves on boats and kayaks.

“The murals are always allegorical. They involve storytelling so it was a great fit,” Bugée said.

The mural incorporates ideas from teen library patrons. One of the librarians who works in the teen room, found they wanted the art to be Huntington related and incorporate a train.

The mural depicts a friendly, inviting place that is full of smiles and books to get lost in. The library hopes the message of teens exploring other worlds through books will inspire them to read and grow with literature.

“In our logo, which is ‘H’ for Huntington, we have the words ‘Dream, Learn, Connect’ and they actually incorporated that… Without even realizing it, when you look at it you might get that feeling that, ‘This is what I’m at the library for. I can dream here, I can learn here, and I can connect here,’” Adam said.

The kids room will also have uplifting additions. There will be two “I Spy” murals with letters to find within the bigger image. These murals work as fascinating pieces to observe, but also as a mentally stimulating activity.

“The longer you look at it, the more you see… You’ll see different things and you might feel inspired in different ways,” Adam said. “You could think, ‘Where are they going on the train?’ and your mind could just start wondering and become creative that way.”

The library finds it important to keep children and teens coming back to foster a love of reading.

“This is a place that everyone is welcome,” Adam said. “If someone gets to feel that way and they’re comfortable here, this is a lifelong place for them to go. If they start young, getting used to coming to the library then I think they’ll continue to always come.”

At the mural donation, the Huntington Station library held a program for teens to design Friend on the Mend bags that will be donated to Huntington Hospital pediatric patients.

“Coming to the library and being involved in something here is going to enrich their own personal lives and help to show that they can reach out to help someone else,” Adam said.

In the future, the library hopes to collaborate with Splashes of Hope to involve teens with painting.