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Mid-Winter Hope Springs Anew

Environmental center celebrates Sixth Annual Winterfest

The setting may been cold and dreary around dusk on a recent Saturday, but the spirit was light and optimistic during the Garden City Bird Sanctuary’s (GCBS) Sixth Annual Winterfest. As around 10 volunteers milled around, stamping their feet to ward of the cold, the GCBS founder and current director Rob Alvey and President John Cronin distributed green candles and plastic cup holders for use in the day’s ceremony.

The assembled gathered in front of a fir dedicated to the memory of Curt Hoera at the beginning of the this half hour event that started with Cronin explaining the genesis of Winterfest.

“We begin the Winterfest candle lighting ceremony in near darkness and cold, with summer but a distant memory. We, the directors, will tell the story of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary and the meaning of Winterfest,” he read. “It all began in 1995 when our founder and first president Rob Alvey was inspired to start ‘sump-thing’ at this formerly neglected 9-acre storm water basing that became the Garden City Bird Sanctuary in which we now gather. Rob, in turn” inspired those of us on the board to start this celebration called Winterfest, a holiday unique to us and our supporters.”

Each person wound up getting their candles lit in turn as a way of symbolically passing on the hope of spring and new life that the green color represented. And while this annual event is only six years old, the Garden City Bird Sanctuary has continued to grow as an environmental oasis in the village. It’s quite an accomplishment given the fact that the area had its start as a storm water basin, (which it continues to serve as), that Alvey inventoried as part of the municipality’s green space when he was asked to do this study by the Village of Garden City Environmental Board back in 1992. Four years later, it was proclaimed the Garden City Bird Sanctuary and ever since then, the nine-acre space has hosted an Annual Earth Run, environmental camps and the site of numerous Eagle and Girl Scout projects. Alvey acknowledges all that these particular teen volunteers have contributed in making this quite an impressive nature preserve.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the Scouts. When they reach the Eagle [and Gold] project level[s] and find me, whatever project they want to do is immaterial. But I’ll work with them on it to make sure they’re all different. What are the skills they’re learning? Project management, coordination and learning how to plant, all things that they’re learning for life,” he explained. “You realize these kids end up having a major life change when they complete a project like that.  I tell them that they all contribute a small piece to the overall process and no one will really notice if one was done here or there but by the time years have gone and you see a steady accumulation of improvements, then you all come back and recognize it. Then you realize you were building that all together, you just didn’t know who the other teammates were.”

The wonders visitors can encounter never cease. One of the last remaining acres of the once-massive Hempstead Plains, a tract of land that at one time stretched from the Queens border all the way out to Suffolk County, can be found within the confines of the environmental center. And birders have been fortunate enough to espy a well over 90 bird species including warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, orioles, cardinals, kestrels and Scarlet Tangers thanks to the fact that the GCBS lies along a migratory route.

“The biggest asset we have, which is hard to put a dollar figure on, is the literally hundreds of people that volunteer, work out there and donate their time. That’s where it really makes the difference,” Alvey said.

It’s a sentiment that goes to the heart of one of the many passages read at this year’s event. “Winterfest reminds us that there is reason to hope for the future because there are many people of good will who care about the planet and the next generation.”

News

The Senior Advisory Committee is the Senior group that helps plan trips, parties, and programs for all seniors in cooperation with the recreation and parks department. It consists of: Kathy Auro, Richard Bankowsky, Evelyn Iagrossi, Joe Leto, Ellen Moynahan, and Gloria Weinrich. Please feel free to suggest trips to anyone on the committee.

Preparedness is the best remedy for Ebola

Winthrop University Hospital hosted a presentation on the current Ebola epidemic, at the Garden City Library, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the village’s Property Owners’ Associations, John F. Collins, president and CEO of Winthrop University Hospital and Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, Winthrop’s Chief Medical Officer provided an overview of the disease along with an update on Winthrop’s preparedness plan.

Dr. Ammazzalorso began his presentation heeding that despite the waning in the press, the disease is still with us. He provided both historical and current day perspectives regarding the epidemic, advising that Ebola is not a new disease. The medical community has been aware of the disease for at least 40 years. Originating in the Congo, Ebola is a zoonosis a disease which has its reservoir in animals and was known for small sporadic outbreaks associated with people who handled bats and rodents or those who consumed bush meat. The current outbreak originated in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He noted in Africa that more than 45,000 people have died from the disease.


Sports

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes begin the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, please visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave. Space is limited so please register early.


Calendar

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, December 1

AARP Driver Safety Program

Tuesday, December 2

Here Comes Brother Sun

Friday, December 5



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com