Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: To Reflect and Serve

Photo of MLK Monument in Washington DC

The third Monday in January is reserved to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the only federal holiday formally recognized as a national day of service, “a day on, not a day off.” In the spirit of listening and thinking first, people are warmly encouraged to study the works of King, and to devote time to serious reflection on how we will endeavor toward a healthier, more just world for all. Here are some ways you can learn about and advance his legacy.

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Shop Local! Lighting the Northport Leg Lamp…

Main St, Northport

Shop Downtown! Shop Northport! Photo by Katheryn Laible

Scroll down for a list of amazing Northport Shops, links to their sites and a little bit about what makes them so cool. You can also check out our readers’ choices of favorite shops across Long Island. We always welcome your submissions to add to that!

For my own part, right now I want to shout from the rooftops about the wonderful merchants of Main Street, Northport who so generously contributed to our Leg Lamp Lighting Raffle. I was inside each and every one of these shops and they are all delightful.

The Northport Leg Lamp Lighting

We held the 2022 Northport Leg Lamp Lighting at 90 Main Street, which is our new home as The Firefly Artists. This is also the site where, when it was the Northport Hardware Company for many years before us, this amazing community event spontaneously germinated. Over nearly two decades, it has organically grown to become one of Long Island’s most beloved holiday events.

Here, we Fireflies now have the great privilege of displaying our stunning variety of work by local artists. We boast extraordinary talent, while maintaining a down to earth and supportive atmosphere that is unique on Long Island. We seek to be an outlet for these local artists, offering a place to create, grow and connect with community.

It was a great honor for us to now also get host this incredibly creative, community oriented extravaganza, right where it all started.

A Major Award, indeed!

We were joined by The Community Playhouse of Northport, members of which helped raise the talented techs of North Stream, who provided professional audio visual services at a steeply reduced price, making them a MAJOR SPONSOR. This vastly increased our capacity to share with you Playhouse members’ talented and entertaining performances, as well as those of the incredibly beautiful Northport High School Tigerettes (called once again by Mayor Donna Koch, who also provided the leg lamp and arranged for our wonderful village administrative, highway and police support), and students of the Posey School of Dance (starting at 17:30 in the linked video) who performed selections from their upcoming Nutcracker Suite, right in the middle of Main Street!

We also have to thank young Theo and Charlie Gilmore, who “flipped the artist’s switch,” to dim the lights and set the stage for the main event, and Drigo Morin who was willing to don a bunny suit to complete our festive scene.

Photo by Chris Yee. From left, Drigo Morin, Dr. Joseph Centamore, Gail Centamore, Justin Murphy, Michelle Centamore, Jude Centamore and Goldie Centamore,

It Takes a Village: Thank You Major Sponsors!

Northport is basically a 1/4 mile strip that starts with amazing restaurants and a world-class theater, and ends with a park featuring landmark gazebos, including one at the end of a beautiful walk over the water, and more amazing restaurants. In between reside a whole host of lovely spots, many of whom are featured below.
 
We didn’t really run this event, so much as serve as a vessel for an all-community endeavor. While we gave it our best to rise to the occasion, it was support from all corners of Northport that made it happen.
 
In addition to the aforementioned, the 2022 Northport Leg Lamp Lighting was made possible by an anonymous donor from the Northport Chamber of Commerce who likes to quietly help make good things happen. We also had the “Luck of the Irish” to meet Fritz Garrecht from the Daniela Conte Foundation, who helped tremendously. We’ll talk more about that soon. We were then reminded that Annemarie Little, from Little John Remodeling is wonderful. We remain deeply and eternally indebted to the Lau family, who came home to market and kick off this event in grand style.
 
We really did try to do this all as frugally as possible. We were also, however, committed to “doing it right.” It was on Sunday, 11/20 that we realized we HAD to have the professional A/V. As generous as NorthStream is, they still have to pay their employees. Facing a dearly tight budget ourselves, we decided to invite neighbors to help us do that.
 
Like so many small business, our neighbor shops do SO MUCH for our communities ALL THE TIME. They donate to local events, local charities and individual causes. They sponsor sports teams and often roll up their sleeves to offer their time and energy as well. They give local artists a chance and give of themselves every day to labors of love that are often each themselves beautiful galleries of unique and wonderful gifts, sustenance and experience…
 
I hardly had time to even pass by all the folks I wanted to ask. The care and generosity of those I did encounter, by and large, was incredible. I also managed to do a fantastic bit of holiday shopping in delightful atmospheres, finding quality presents for not nearly as much as you might think.
 

Above all, once again, I was struck deeply at how WONDERFUL our community is.

Please pop in and buy from these folks. Then, as you go along on your adventures, make a note to look at the sponsor listings of other local events and such as you see them. Make time to visit those places and thank those folks for making our communities special by supporting their establishments.

These people who give of their time and energy to do good in the community tend to bring that same energy to their work. Even if they weren’t giving so much to everything else, supporting them would be worthwhile.

Photo of Leg Lamp Raffle Donations in the window of The Firefly Artists
Grateful thanks to all our local merchants who helped make the 2022 Northport Leg Lamp Lighting Possible! .

2o22 Leg Lamp Lighting Merchant Sponsors -- THANK YOU!!!

Tim’s Shipwreck Diner: (46 Main Street) First of all, his trolly car of a breakfast joint embedded in Main Street is iconic and delicious. Second of all, every time we turn around he’s doing something wonderful for his neighbors. Truthfully, it was Tim saying “Please,” and offering to bring Hot Chocolate for everyone that really got this whole event rolling.

 

The John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main Street) is a premier year-round professional theater that casts its actors directly from the Broadway talent pool. The venue features stadium-style seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and a “Lobby Bar and Lounge.” Since 2007, they have produced 80 Main Stage Productions of some of Broadway’s finest musicals and plays, and have proudly opened their doors for numerous special events and fundraisers for various organizations.


Skippers: (34 Main Street) Family owned and operated since 1978, Skippers has long been a staple of the Nothport Community. Recently remodeled, they offer waterfront dining featuring inspiring Northport Harbor views. It’s a memorable dining experience of coastal Long Island dishes with chef-driven cuisine and a modern design.

Jackie Shawn Salon: (110 Main Street) Come, de-stress and beautify. The feel of the place is a step out of time. The skill with hair and makeup is here and now. The people are lovely.

Jones Drug Store (100 Main Street) has served Northport for over a century! In addition all your pharmaceutical needs they have a lovely gift shop that, among other thing, includes gorgeous Northport-themed shirts and hats. There are authentic model boats and nautical gifts, flags, hand painted bird houses, and much more.

Northport Historical Society (215 Main Street) is housed in an old Carnegie Library. They offer incredible programming and are where you can find and purchase amazing old photos.

Coquus Book Store (145 Main Street #3) is the perfect place to shop for your favorite chef!

Changing Tides Consignment: (Formerly Helgas, 139 Main Street) Happy Retirement Helga! Welcome Denise! Read about the carefully planned changes at Northport’s treasured thrift shop here.

Harbor View Jewelers: (260 Main Street) A 4th generation jeweler with an excellent reputation for honesty, integrity, and the finest customer service in the industry. They love to work one-on-one to meet your individual style and develop your ideas into the perfect, treasured piece of jewelry.

Harbor House Restaurant: (78 Main Street) Northport’s newest restaurant in a cozy historical venue. It’s a modern seafood restaurant with warm atmosphere and outdoor dining in season. The friendly, attentive staff offers chef inspired seasonal fare, always fresh, and a variety of seafood, homemade ravioli, burgers and many specials to choose from.

Main Street Café: (47 Main Street) Come taste Long Island’s best burger, as chosen by readers of Newsday! Its owner for 16 years, Darin Parker, is so community oriented she was selected by the Times Beacon Record News Media as a Person of the Year. In addition to providing the Leg Lamp for the years Carl’s Candy hosted the event, Darin served as the first vice president of the Northport Chamber of Commerce as well as a fundraising organizer, and she hosts trips to Broadway shows for Northport Village residents. She is also a major supporter of events and foundations including St. Baldrick’s, Relay for Life, Adopt a Family and Strides for Cancer.

Salted on the Harbor: (70 Main Street) Proprietor & Sommelier Lindsay Ostrander has been in the restaurant industry since she was 14 years old. Wanting  “Northport to be a stamp on the map for restaurants too,” she and her family designed Salted to round out what they felt was missing in Northport Village. Their Chef Anthony has a resume with some of the best locations around, such as Park Place, Nisen Sushi, Matteo’s, just to name a few.  With a little help from their friend Doug Brickell, of the famed Cork & Kerry, their beverage savant, they bring to you carefully crafted cocktails & spirits, as well as craft beer and amazing wines chosen by the Owner/Sommelier, who for the past decade has also happened to own:

The Wine Cellar on Main: (70 Main Street) Sommelier chosen wines by the glass & bottle, local craft beer, tapas & dine in menus from sister location SALTED. on the Harbor and Maroni Cuisine (currently on Wednesdays and Thursdays). The bar is also a fine art gallery. There is Live Music Thursday- Sunday- Follow them on instagram and facebook for their weekly line up!

Artisan House: (80 Main Street) This treasure trove of unique gifts is celebrating 50 years in Northport, and one year with their new owners, Ron and Randi. They have baby items, jewelry, glassware, candles, souvenirs, nautical gifts, windchimes and more. They’re also one of the few places on Main Street that routinely stay open late!

Indigo room: (146 Main Street) Proprietor Kim is a deeply spiritual artist and a curator….the place is just…so…cool….Come, find a bit of poetry, a zen garden, perhaps a bit of indigo ink….Sage and holi sticks, beautiful, clever things she’s found, created and been  inspired by…the place is a treasure for the body mind and soul…

Nest on Main (135 Main Street) is a home decor marketplace that features many talented local artisans and creative entrepreneurs, including interior design experts who are delighted to help you feather your nest. Learn about them on their website, take one of their wonderful workshops, or just come on in and delight in their many and varied offerings.

The Window Shop Jewelers (104 Main Street) is dedicated to fulfilling customers’ dreams and to providing objects of consummate beauty and lasting value. Shop here for fine jewelry or timepieces, famous collections, exciting new designers and lines waiting to be discovered. Proprietor Jean McNeill and staff personally guide visitors through a breadth of selections…karat gold and sterling…diamonds, precious and semiprecious stones, pearls, vintage and contemporary pieces and more…jewelry for virtually every occasion…and every price point.

Bohemiac Boutique: (54 Woodbine Ave) She started as an Instagram sensation, now she’s got a beautiful brick and mortar location selling her clothing and accessories right on Woodbine. It’s so Northport, in a low key chic kind of way with a little bit of an edge…perfect for mother-daughter and best friend shopping. Plus, her Christmas Tree is amazing.

Gunthers: (81 Main Street) Northport’s iconic watering hole, famed for being one of the places Jack Kerouac never wrote a word. Check out the website for their music lineup.

Hengstenberg’s Florist (39 Main Street) has been serving the Gold Coast North Shore for over 30 years, with a commitment to bringing their customers exceptional floral arrangements, award-winning designs and unsurpassed service.

Hydrangea Home (67 Main Street) is an artful lifestyle shoppe with a casual, laid-back aesthetic that features fragrance, bath and body, florals, art and photography, jewelry and home decor. It all began in 1995 out of the converted garage of Dawn Mohrmann, whose husband and 4 kids first supported the endeavor by helping out at home. Now, the grown children each contribute to its handmade products in the shoppe while Fred handles all of the assembling, building, etc. In addition to so many pieces literally made “in-house” there are many others they just couldn’t resist sourced from other small businesses, local and around the world.

The Jewelry Collection (75 Main Street) offers a unique and beautiful collection of gifts ranging from candy to jewelry to home decor. There are items for babies and men, too! The stock is always changing and equipped to help you find something for everyone at any occasion.

Sweet Arts: (105 Main Street) With an old fashioned candy store up front and a party space in the back, this crafty establishment is one of Northport’s newest family-oriented treasures. They offer birthday parties, creative space, a lovely candy shop and even a you and me group intended to support caretakers as much as their kids. Check their website for event dates.

Maroni Cuisine: (18 Woodbine Avenue) First of all, the meatballs are legendary…but it’s more than that. Their about page will tell you “Love Wins”…that “Maroni cuisine is so unique it is difficult to describe but a pleasure to experience”…that eat in or take out, they aim to make you feel at home, that “We offer no formal menu. We break the rules.” It is absolutely delicious…

Einstein’s Attic: (79 Main Street) A longtime Northport treasure of a toy shop, Einstein’s Attic is “a specialty store where imagination can take you anywhere.” Proprietor Lori Badanes is always on the hunt to expand and offer her tremendous selection of amazing toys for children of all ages – including LOTS of very cool educational toys. She is also always willing to do something new and creative with the community.

Elements of Home (91 Main Street) offers an eclectic mix of out of the ordinary gift ideas, along with new ideas in home decor. Their ever-changing merchandise will meet your needs and desires for each season, as well as those special occasions to be celebrated throughout the year.

Heartichoke: (145 Main Street) Often described as “absolutely magical” and an “earthy delight,” here you can find gifts, crystals, incense, candles, home, garden, jewelry, and accessories.

Penny & Cooper: (154 Main Street) Inspired by the power of scent to create a mood, evoke a memory or relax us, mother-daughter team Donna and Katie established this bath, body home store in 2017. They handcraft their products in small batches with love & care, using only high-quality and natural ingredients. They move with the season, celebrate our village and create a wonderful atmosphere.

Martoni Italian Eatery (245 Main Street) offers warm grilled panini sandwiches, signature salads, italian gelato, espresso, and cappuccino, as well as imported goods direct from Italy, such as olive oils, balsamic oils, pasta, olives, mushrooms, and much mo.

How blessed are we to have these folks! Go! Keep them in business for decades to come. It’s totally worth it!

Northport Leg Lamp 2022
The Window of the FIrefly Artists December 2022

Full Credits

Our deep, deep thanks to The Reichert Family and Former Mayor George Doll for being long central to our community, and for starting this tradition we are so honored to continue.

It’s a little about The Christmas Story, but really, it’s all about Community. Thank you for being a part of it.

PERFORMANCES BY
Rich Lau
Amelia Lau

NORTHPORT TIGERETTES
Madeleine Atherton, 12th
Hazel Carlson, 9th
Katie Conroy, 11th
Scarlett DePaul, 10th
Sarah Edebohls, 12th
Emma Fierro, 11th
Margaret FitzMaurice, 10th
Chloe Gucciardo, 9th
Jillian Heuer, 9th
Jaelynn Irizarry, 11th
Samantha Kim, 11th
Mackenzie Kirincic, 11th
Anastasia Knudsen, 11th
Ella Lombardo, 12th
Gabby Mancusi, 10th
Anna Mandel, 10th
Ava Marion, 10th
Ella Mason, 9th
Zoe Meadows, 12th
Sophia Merlino, 12th
Scarlett Moran, 11th
Beatrix Moran, 9th
Lucy Mulholland, 9th
Skylar Neuf, 11th
Jessica Ochoa , 11th
Charlotte Petronella, 11th
Madison Rasizzi, 11th
Allison Reale, 12th
Ava Scheibe, 9th
Scarlett Stack 9th
Lily Trudwig, 9th
Celeste Tuccillo, 12th
Talia Velazquez, 12th
Chloe Wagner, 9th

POSEY SCHOOL OF DANCE
Delaney Mulholland – Clara Solo
Samantha Driscoll- Sugarplum Fairy
Olivia Puglisi – Dew Drop Fairy

YOUNG LIGHTS
Theo and Charlie Gilmore (With Kate Sydney)

THE COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE OF NORTHPORT

The Centamore Family, Michelle, Joe, Goldie, Jude, and Gail
Narrated by Justin Murphyly Graci

PRODUCTION MANAGER

Aly Graci

STAGE MANAGER IN PINK BUNNY SUIT
Drigo Morin

 

THE TECH
NorthStream, Nick Graci
Theo Lau
Steve Caputo

THE SET
Community Playhouse of Northport
Rob Nock and James Darcy (the Crate)
Mayor Donna Koch, Village of Northport (The Leg and more, All the Admin)
Steve Caputo & Aly Graci (The Movie)
Beth Atkinson
Drigo Morin
Highway Dept.
Northport Village Police

DESIGN AND PRODUCTION
Jennifer Lau

REFRESHMENTS
Tim Hess, Shipwreck Diner (Key Instigator. hot chocololate, more)

VOLUNTEERS
Annmarie Little, Little John Construction
Max & Lizzy Laible
Steve Caputo, Christine Maichin, Assorted Other Wonderful Firefly Artists

LIVE MUSIC BY
The Drama Kings

Autumn Landscaping Resources

Child in leaves

Autumn Landscaping. Sorry I'm Late!

This year, what with all the all at our gallery, every other plan I had went out the window.

Both Synchronicity and my gardens were sorely neglected.  

I am thus late with this article and still struggling to accomplish basic fall cleanup.

Fortunately, while I still have important work to do, I am comforted by a whole host of experts who now recommend taking it easy on the leaf removal.

Autumn Dogwood
"Autumn Dogwood" photo by Katheryn Laible

On Leaving the Leaves

This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.

Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,”  one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.

Here’s an article from James Doubek for NPR on the subject.

Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.

And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”

BTW, I just discovered the Xerces Society, which is focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.

…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….

I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long

…but I digress…

…I was talking about leaving the leaves…

Photo of oak leaf on pavement
"Oak Leaf" photo by Katheryn Laible

Well, Most of Them Anyway

The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.

It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.

On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!

As such, my approach isn’t so different from what Soil Seed and Garden.com says here, or The Spruce, here.

So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….

Autumn afterblooms
"Autumn Afterblooms" photo by Katheryn Laible

Consider Losing the Lawn

Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.

This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”

On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.

Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.

I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.

Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.

I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.

See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.

Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.

 

(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)

photo looking up at trees in twilight
"Looking Up: After the Fall" photo by Katheryn Laible

Dear Veterans: Thank You For Your Service

From an event honoring local champion of veterans Gus Scutari in 2016

Thank you to all who served. In honor of Veterans Day 2022 we offer deep gratitude, good resources and indelibly moving stories.

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We Will Never Forget…

Photo of the WTC memorial lights by Colin Hopkins

We Will Never Forget… Photo of the WTC memorial lights by Colin Hopkins, Local 580 Iron Workers. Colin was on week three of work when the towers fell, a day when these folks and many others who never expected to be such, came to serve as first responders and who continued working at the site for weeks after the attack. Later, Colin was also among those present at work who got to witness the Freedom Spire rise…

We Will Never Forget…

Over the last two decades, we have learned a new rhythm….The end of summer comes, there is a flurry of activity about getting kids prepared for and off to school, and then, the moment all settles down the weight of solemn remembrance overshadows everything but the realization of how lucky we are to have that terrible event cast such a pall over our beings only once a year. Our hearts go out to so many others who lost so much…who experienced so much…who have since endured so much…

We remember the first puzzled and then stunned and horrified voices of the professionals whose job it is to tell us the bad news every day. We recall the images that replayed, the bells that rang, the world that all but stopped.

We remember the selfless bravery of firemen who went in where anyone in their “right mind” would be running out.

We remember the horrific loss of 2.977 innocent lives, including 343 of those firemen, 60 police officers and 8 EMTS. We remember the probability that anyone we encountered may have just lost someone dear. We remember how some of those who perished did so heroically apprehending hijackers and crashing their own plane.

Our hearts twist in the simultaneous gratitude for the miracle of how, despite intense confusion, so many lived to tell their tale or simply were not there.

We remember the people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge…covered in dust…the people being rescued from the end of Manhattan Island…the people desperately seeking people who would never be found.

We remember the school children who did not know. We remember the teachers who did, but could not tell them. We remember the beautiful day slowly overcast by those beautiful, yet terrible clouds. We remeber the taste. We remember the smell.

We remember the iron workers, the dock builders and the other hard working Long Islanders who heard of the disaster and raced to the scene to see if they could be of service. We remember those who spent weeks upon weeks shoveling through the twisted debris. We remember the price so many have paid for their commitment.

We remember being implored to go out and live. We remember being told it was patriotic to shop. We remember wishing there was something more meaningful to do. We remember Paul McCartney and the musicians he gathered to play for the world and those first responders. We remember Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick who were on Broadway as The Producers, and how they epitomized the notion that “the show must go on.”…how meaningful it was to simply carry on.

We remember the brave men and women who have been at war ever since that fateful day. We pray that they and all the others who bear intense burdens and indelible scars will be properly cared for. We pray for a peace that seems so very far away.

We look down at children, and now young adults, who never knew the days before then; who never wondered at those impossibly tall buildings but may have marveled at those even taller beams of light; who never felt that fateful day; who look at us in bewilderment at the ongoing challenges, both at home and abroad…who wish, sometimes loudly, other times in quiet sighs, that the adults of this world would finally grow up.

We remember the noble ideals that we stand for. We remember how innocent we were. We realize on how much has changed since then, including an explosion of communication that somehow seems to have opened chasms between good people of different perspectives, and tidal waves of information that seem to only muddy any sense we once had of the truth. We reflect on how much we still have to learn, and on how much we seem to have forgotten…

We remind ourselves that while the battle may rage on within our hearts and across this world, we must never let terror win. We must never let the blind hatred that enables it to win. We must overcome.

But how?

The words of many sages come to mind; visionaries and scholars of so many cultures and kinds. We keep coming back to the wisest ones; the ones who seem to have mattered the most…

Over and over they whisper from the ages the same small, powerful yet humble, healing, overcoming, uplifting light of a word…

And so…we reflect…on Love.

A 4th of July Reflection on US

The 4th of July honors the US Declaration of Independence. Its most well-known passage is the foundation upon which the colonists’ grievances were justified and a bold declaration of human rights…

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Juneteenth

Photo by Hillie Chan on Unsplash

When I think of Juneteenth, I see one hard-won step on a very long journey. May we continue to climb that mountain and reach a higher place. Photo by Hillie Chan on Unsplash

This second official Juneteenth happens to fall on Father’s Day. I find that fitting somehow, as I pause to consider what it means to be a good man and to give gratitude for all who father.

The official site for Juneteenth is here. It commemorates that July 19th day in 1865, 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and over a month after the last battle of that hard, bloody war, when the last black american slaves in Galveston, TX were finally set free.

The date has been celebrated in black communities for years with street fairs, parades, concerts, and prayer. In 2021 it was finally, recognized as a federal holiday. It is good to see the growing acknowledgment and honoring of its significance among broader communities through events and such. Some are listed here in the LI Press . Others are in this piece from News12 LI.

Of course, being forcibly set free and actually realizing the stated promise of this nation are two different things. Another good way to honor this day is to study history, both before and after that day, and to reflect on how, while Juneteenth itself recalls a moment of triumph worthy of celebration, it was just one hard-won step on an ongoing journey toward “a more perfect union,” and far from the end of disparity in the treatment of human beings.

I am grateful to all who have given their best to advance civil rights and to create a more just world. May we honor ongoing endeavors to more fully realize the acknowledgment and admonishment entailed by our nation’s Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

One local organization focused on just that is ERASE Racism. Here, in their most recent newsletter they ask how folks are celebrating Juneteenth, share some of what they offer and are focused on, and offer a wealth of diverse and broader resources for exploration.

Check it out

Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team

Photo of the USA Patriots with Joe Bartumioli. Photo Credit: Steve Caputo

Come to The Firefly Artists 7/22 starting at 5pm for a special reception with extraordinary heroes: The USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team.

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Memorial Day Meaning and Events on Long Island

WWII Veteran Gus Scutari leads children in honoring fallen soldiers at the 2015 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

Every Memorial Day, Gus Scutari would invite veterans, Long Island dignitaries and the children up. Learn about the 2022 Syosset parade here in the Syosset Patch.

Here is a guide to resources for honoring Memorial Day 2022 on Long Island.

The last Monday in May, this three-day weekend at the dawn of summer, is set aside to honor the tremendous sacrifice made by soldiers who gave all. It is a time to pause and acknowledge how veterans offer their very souls to our Nation, and to give solemn consideration to the responsibility we have as citizens to ensure they are treated well and that we give it our best to create a nation somehow worthy of such sacrifice.

While the specific focus is those lost to war, it is also important to recognize those left behind. For many, this is a very personal affair. Please do not say “Happy Memorial Day” as many are honoring lost loved ones and reckoning with memories, knowledge and feelings that are incredibly difficult. It is better to offer gratitude for service, and to offer a listening ear and an open heart.

I have been told by several veterans that this does not mean the day should be entirely without joy. The barbecues and the lighter sides of the parades are important moments of community and, yes, even celebrations of life and nation. May we do so with a mind to surround service families in love, light, and gratitude for the blessings they seek to offer so much to preserve.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.
Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.

Various Guides to Memorial Day and Where They’ll Lead You

Here’s a Guide to Memorial Day Parades from News12 Long Island including Island Park, Airshow Cruises in Freeport, Hempstead, a Riverhead Painting Festival, Bay Shore, Elwood, Farmingdale, Freeport, Little Neck, Long Beach, Malverne, Massapequa Park, Mastic, a Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay, Merrick, Northport, Painview-Old Bethpage, Sayville, St. James, Smithtown, Southold, and West Islip

This one of parades and events from the LI Press includes the Bethpage Air Show, Hempstead (the oldest parade on LI), The Largest Parade of the Five Towns in Cedarhurst, an Air Show Cruise in Freeport, Little-Neck Douglastown (one of the largest in the nation), Massapequa, Wantagh, Port Washington, the Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall, Levittown, an event of music, food, and fun at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck, Babylon, Southold, and Lindenhurst.

From Greater Long Island we learn about parades in Bay Shore, Babylon, Patchogue, Stony Brook, Fire Island, Huntington, Rockville Centre, Center Moriches, Farmingdale, and Ronkonkoma.

Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade
Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

A Bit of History and More Current Stories on Honoring the Day

Here is the encyclopedic definition of Memorial Day from Britannica.

You can learn more on the History website.

Here is a meaningful piece in the LI Advance offered by Dave Rogers in 2021. He was a tremendous asset to veterans, the arts, and local business in Patchogue for many years. Thanks to social media, he continues to serve veterans everywhere from his new home.

Here is a piece on a call for a county-wide moment of silence by Long Island leaders featured on Texas Public Radio.

This story from News12 LI is about Ron Errickson Jr, who be spending this weekend cleaning up Tinton Falls, a cemetary in New Jersey of African American soldiers who weren’t permitted to be buried with white ones.

Here, the National Park Service looks back over 150 years of Memorial Day traditions springing up across the nation. It also offers links to specific major memorial sites in its care, including The Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial.

In another piece from History, did you know that one of the earliest Memorial Day events in the USA was held by freed slaves?

This feature in Almanac offers some more history including why the Poppy is important, the poem “On Flanders Field,” and a bit about the flag and distinguishing holidays honoring those who serve in the military. There are also recipes and the Memorial Day calendar for the next several years.

Finally, here is my own piece honoring Costantino “Gus” Scutari. Gus was a World War II Veteran who long served as a champion for good citizenship and thoughtful Americanism, and who dedicated his later life to the Syosset Memorial Day Parade. He passed at the age of 99 in April of 2020. He is now a namesake of Underhill Blvd, where he long held the ceremonies following the parade, and the Syosset VFW, where he would invite everyone for hot dogs and refreshments after.

It is fitting to hear that in honor of his memory and an enduring spirit that is likely leading it anyway, there will be no Grand Marshal of this parade.

Learn about the Syosset parade on Syosset Patch.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade
Veterans in Syosset commence the 2018 Memorial Day Parade