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Mill Neck Hosts Successful 50th Annual Apple Festival

Event features vendors and all things fall on Long Island

The Mill Neck Family Organizations, who operate a facility at 501 South Broadway in Hicksville to assist deaf adults in communicating, hosted its 50th annual Apple Festival at Mill Neck School for the Deaf on Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Throughout the two unseasonably warm fall days, vendors from all over Long Island, including Karl Ehmer meats and cheese, offered jellies, jams, honeys, baked goods to patrons in attendance. Hundreds of supporters were already at the festival at 10:45 a.m. and ranged from infants in strollers to elderly in wheelchairs, and everybody else in between.

Noted guests were present, such as Doug Geed from News 12 LI and Miss Long Island 2012, Jessica Pinckney. Pinckney loaned a hand for volunteers in the Country Store tent, which served fine dried sausages, loaves of freshly baked breads and cookies and the seasonal favorite: apple cake. The apple cake, according to Pinckney and her fellow volunteer, was all but gone in about 20 minutes.

In addition to the apple cake, a booth selling apple pie, apple crumb pie, coconut custard pie and pumpkin pie was on site; pies much larger than your average supermarket variety boasted thick fillings, crumbly crust and an aftertaste reminiscent of your grandmother’s favorite autumn recipe.

Crunchy, spicy pickles from The Pickle People were located directly at the entrance of the fair, with aromas of garlic and brine greeting attendants at the gate. A small table with many volunteers was also selling apple cider by the pint and quart. Thick and golden goodness mixed with scents of spice and sweet apple tickling nostrils of those who partook in imbibing (a non-alcoholic beverage, of course).

Long Island farmers were present with fresh produce, with seasonal delights as corn, potatoes, carrots, beets and assorted squash. Apple of the Year was the Honeygold, a crisp and juicy fruit with a thin flesh and wonderful crunch.

Bags of apples were $6, but the Honeygold was $10 a bag, and came with a commemorative reusable tote to show Long Islanders, who came out in droves, that they, too, were participating in “going green.”

“Broccoli Rob” appeared with his puppet vegetable pals in the Town of Oyster Bay stage area. A 50/50 raffle booth was set up, offering chances for $10 a ticket. Last year’s 50/50 brought the big winner approximately $10,000. The 2009 raffle winner brought home almost $15,000.

Mill Neck Family of Organizations director, Dr. Mark Prowatzke, was on the scene, and sold tickets for food, beverages and apples. One particularly busy booth served seasonal Pumpkin Spice iced coffee.

Dr. Prowatzke graciously offered a few minutes of his time to explain a few details about the Mill Neck School. Celebrating its 60th anniversary this fall, it has been continuously running since 1951 to serve the deaf. Certified programs are being run; new programs are developed constantly at the school. Mill Neck School for the Deaf services clients from newborn to high school.

A preschool integrated program is also available for young children, which includes a group of classmates who are able to hear. This aids in the development of lip reading and interacting with those who are not deaf. There are special education programs for 3 and 4 year olds with special needs or communication challenges that will run until the child enters kindergarten. Hundreds of volunteers were present, staffing every booth so that patrons would not have the inconvenience of waiting on very long lines. T-shirts and caps were available for purchase; volunteers wore the identical shirts and caps with great pride. Earlier in the week on Saturday, Oct.1, a breakfast was organized for these very special people, who took the time from their own lives to assist in bettering the lives of others. ecognized for service of 20, 30 and even 40 years.

As Dr. Prowatzke noted, this marks the 20th anniversary of his service to the school. His 4-year-old granddaughter eagerly quipped, “Pa is the boss of the Apple Festival!” Her exuberance was apparent in her grandfather’s eyes as he proudly spoke of her, and it was further ignited as he spoke glowing words about all of those who serve as counselors, staff and volunteers for the school.

The history of the Mill Neck School is of particular interest. Robert Leftwich Dodge and his wife, the heiress Lillian Sefton Dodge were owners of the estate. Mill Neck Manor, or Sefton Manor as it was known at that time, is a majestic Tudor revival mansion that boasts over 34 family rooms, 16 bathrooms, many guest and service rooms. Built in 1923 by the architectures Clinton & Russel, Wells, Holton & George, the mansion cost approximately $2 million to build. The doorway alone, with its unique hardware, is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. Each window alone cost over $10,000. Craftsmen from as far away as Italy and Germany helped to build the manse; the first floor alone took two years to build.

In 1949, a group of Lutheran pastors, known as The Lutheran Friends of the Deaf, had the realization that a school for the deaf should be located on Long Island; the only other school at that time was located in Detroit. Because of uncertainty as to where they would house such a facility on Long Island, these pastors “stepped out in faith”, as Dr. Prowatzke mentioned, and the property presented itself quite quickly. The transaction went smoothly between the Lutheran pastors and the family who owned the estate, which had a price tag of $216,000. Because they did not have enough funding to purchase the school, the pastors had to have others cosign on their loans. The 86-acre property has been immaculately maintained since the purchase, and in 1951, the doors were opened for classes to begin. The pastors’ dream was realized, and the birth of a school to assist those who live in silence amazingly occurred.

United Apple of the Hudson Valley donated the apples in a cooperative effort. Any apples that are not purchased by 5 p.m. on Sunday are delivered back to the co-operative, and these apples are recycled into various beverages and baked goods.  

All of the Long Island produce came from local LI farmers and some of it was donated from the East End Farmer’s bureau. Produce that was not purchased by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9 was donated to Long Island Harvest, as leftovers are never wasted at the school. To know that fresh produce will be donated to those in need and not thrown away is the ultimate charity, as Mill Neck proves that paying it forward is still alive and well on Long Island.

All in all, the Mill Neck Family of Organizations – along with its humbly fearless leader Dr. Mark Prowatzke – is an organization that does not just consider students and their families, but the community as well. It was a day incredibly well spent by many accounts.

For further information about the services that Mill Neck Family of Organizations provides, please call 1-800-264-0662, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

News

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s just what a Hicksville baker is doing, except in her case it isn’t lemons, but a gluten-free diet. Her lemonade stand of choice is her brand new gluten-free eatery, “Jac’s Bakeshop and Bistro,” which held its grand opening on April 12.  

“I’m a baker who can’t even eat wheat or eggs,” said owner Jaclyn Messina, chuckling at the irony.

There’s a lot you can do in 99 minutes. You could cook dinner, play a non-stop soccer game, watch a romantic comedy or hang out with Odysseus, Achilles and Hercules. If you chose the last option, Hicksville High School’s upcoming theatre production of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less  is the place for you.

The mouthful of a title says it all. The cast will take on over 80 characters as they speed through all of Greek mythology, including popular tales such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, in a little over an hour and a half.


Sports

Vito Sciascia was recently named Hicksville Soccer Club’s Volunteer of the Year at the 2014 Long Island Junior Soccer League 2014 Kick-off Convention.

Sciascia started coaching travel soccer in 1998 for a boys team, the Flash, who later changed their names to the Muddogs. He could always be found at various sporting fields trying to recruit new soccer players. He would make each of these boys feel important and there was always room for another player. He tried to never turn a child away and when other coaches were having trouble with a boy he would take them on his team, no one was ever too much for him. Sciascia found the good in all those boys and they in return respected him. He took them to many tournaments and solicited enough sponsorship so that it was never a financial burden on their families.

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.


Calendar

American Legion Meeting

April 21

HS Theater in the Round

April 24-26

Science Fair

April 26



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