Spirits were high on Friday evening, Dec. 14, as Garden City’s Western Section hosted a holiday tree lighting. Local families and friends slowly gathered around the tree to talk and laugh, awaiting the many performances, and the big moment. Gallery Pizzeria and Restaurant was a popular place for people of all ages to come in from the cold and enjoy slices of pizza and hot coffee. Tom Whalen, president of The Western Property Owners’ Association (W.P.O.A.), was there to kick off the night, starting with a moment of silence and remembrance for the Newtown, CT tragedy that occurred earlier that day. Special thanks were also given to businesses in the area that provided food, and CupCake Corner for providing free hot chocolate.
Garden City residents were invited to take a tour of the high school Tuesday, Dec. 11 to see the numerous improvements that have taken place to the building as a result of the 2009 school investment bond and energy performance project.
Members of the board of education, including Superintendent of Schools Robert Feirsen, along with some of the contractors and architects who worked on the building, walked residents through the new music addition and updated classrooms and offices, explaining the changes that were completed over the summer.
In the days following the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, CT, the response from the Garden City Public School District was instantaneous. Dr. Robert Feirsen, the district superintendent, drafted a letter that was immediately emailed to students’ parents reassuring them of the district’s efforts to provide a safe and secure environment. Among the programs in place are a detailed safety plan that is annually updated, unannounced drills and tabletop exercises that have the district interacting with first responders and safety experts. It’s this thoroughness of communication between the schools and parents that reassures PTA President Cristina Kilberg.
“We had two correspondences over the weekend—one from Dr. Feirsen assuring parents that everything was going to be taken into consideration from school security to how the children adjust to this news,” Kilberg said before adding. “We also got a correspondence from the principal of the middle school who also did the same thing—reassured parents and also provided a couple of links to places to go for [counseling] information and also what’s appropriate to tell children.”
According to DA investigators, the 23-year-old man was arrested that morning and charged with three counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child as a sexually motivated felony, and three counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child.
Continuing a holiday tradition that is nearly two decades old, officials from Stewart Manor and Floral Park once again pooled their resources and enthusiasm to illuminate Covert Avenue. On Saturday, Dec. 1, residents gathered on the corner of Covert and Chester Avenues for the annual tree lighting.
When former Police Commissioner Ernie Cipullo filed his retirement papers on May 31, it served as a bookend to a 51-year stint serving the Village of Garden City. These kinds of transitions from a well-established regime could have sent a ripple of concern throughout the community were it not for the fact that Cipullo’s friend, Kenneth Jackson was his successor. Trustee John Watras, the Village board of trustees liaison to the police department, reiterated this point while saying a few words prior to Jackson being officially sworn in by Mayor Don Brudie. “There are probably not enough kind words to say about [Jackson’s] attributes and [achievements],” Watras proudly stated. “We are so proud of you and your accomplishments. [You were] a great protégé of Ernie Cipullo.”
And while Jackson has subsequently served as Interim Commissioner, he officially dropped the interim tag when the Ronkonkoma resident was officially sworn in at the village trustees meeting on Thursday, Dec. 6. Jackson took the oath of office as administered by the mayor as two rows of village police officers lined up against the wall sporting white gloves and resplendent in their dress blues watched on with pride. Also attending was Jackson’s wife Laurie and their three children.
Garden City’s Chamber of Commerce presentation of the annual Village Tree Lighting was certainly the place to be for residents and Garden City supporters this past Sunday. Sponsored by Astoria Federal Savings, its staff was there to give out candy canes and small treats. This was the bank’s 18th year supporting the holiday festival, in cooperation with the Recreation and Parks Department and Garden City Fire Department. As in past years, this village tree lighting allowed friends and families to come together and enjoy the essence of Christmas and togetherness.
The village gazebo came alive with lights, music, and happy spirits awaiting the arrival of Santa and the flick of the switch to illuminate the tree at the holiday festival. Music was provided by The Five Stone band, which played classic rock and alternative Christmas songs. Garden City High School’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble also performed unique renditions of many Xmas classics directed by Stephen Mayo. Enthusiastic residents of all ages who came to enjoy the afternoon with family members and even pets sat in lawn chairs scattered throughout the village green. Mary Spadaro has been a Garden City resident for more than 47 years, and has always attended and looked forward to this holiday celebration.
Fresh off defeating the Wantagh Warriors for the Nassau County Conference II Championship, the Garden City Trojans won Island-wide bragging rights by overcoming Riverhead High School’s Blue Waves on Saturday, Dec. 1. With Riverhead’s only hopes lying on a defensive stand on third-and-four with zero timeouts remaining, Garden City’s QB Brett Stewart took the snap and scampered to the left, shoulder charging a defender to narrowly gain the first down. The clutch run from the junior QB effectively ended the game as the Trojans of Garden City were able to run out the clock to the 29-16 victory to win their first Long Island Championship since 2009.
The Trojan defense— led by Scott D’Antonio—played a phenomenal second half, shutting out the powerful Riverhead offense, with RB Jeremiah Cheatom leading the charge as he rushed for 224 yards on the day—only 26 of which came in the second half.
The 35th Annual Garden City Turkey Trot, Long Island’s largest Thanksgiving day road race, had yet another record turnout this year and attracted well over 5,500 runners.
Once again the weather was glorious and sunny on Thanksgiving morning as runners from all over Long Island and beyond came to Garden City to run in the Turkey Trot.
With the season hanging in the balance, a raucous crowd on both sides and Wantagh attempting to score after converting a crucial third down, Spencer Bais made an incredible grab for an interception to seal the 21-17 win for the Garden City Trojans.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Head Coach Tom Flatley regarding Bais. “He’s a first-year player, he has always played basketball, but it was huge play for him to catch that ball.”
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