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Dragon Tales

A day in the life of an NHL mascot

The New York Islanders’ winged mascot, Sparky the Dragon, is one of the National Hockey League’s 26 costumed creatures found within NHL arenas throughout North America.

The Islanders’ former mascot, Nyiles (pronounced Nigh-els), resembled the grizzly fisherman featured on the team’s jerseys in the mid-1990s. Sparky the Dragon served as the mascot for the New York Dragons (Arena Football League), who played their home games at the Nassau Coliseum before the team suspended operations in 2009. Sparky, a beloved member of the Nassau Coliseum family, swapped his football gear for a pair of ice skates and the rest is hockey history.

Sparky, though unable to speak, recently caught up with Anton News via email.

“Sparky spends his mornings visiting elementary schools around Long Island. He performs school assemblies with Dina, the Islanders' arena hostess, about being healthy and making smart decisions,” Sparky said.

On game days, Sparky’s routine is much like that of an NHL player.

“Sparky makes sure all his gear is clean, he is well hydrated, and of course, well fed. Then he does some stretches and some laps around the ice. He doesn't want to pull a hammy,” Sparky explained.

With his hockey stick-shaped tail, bulbous head and permanent smile, Sparky has become a staple at Islander home games and team events throughout Nassau and Suffolk County.

“Islander fans love Sparky and constantly praise him for his hard work, hustle and surprisingly good sense of humor (you wouldn't expect someone who can't talk to be so funny). Sparky is always there to cheer someone up when they need it. He’s a pro and the quintessential motivator,” Sparky noted.

The team’s crosstown rival, the New York Rangers, is one of four teams in the NHL without a mascot. The franchises meet four times during the lockout-shortened season, while the rivalry between the two has become one of the greatest in pro sports.

“For players, Sparky is the type of mascot where you hate if he's not on your team but you absolutely love him if he is. Message to the Rangers: Beware of the Dragon,” said Sparky, who enjoys “Islander wins, interacting with the amazing Islander fan base and making new friends at each and every game and team function.”

Though the gig may seem like all fun and games, Sparky sometimes travels with the New York Islanders on business trips, too, as he’s flown – by plane – to Carolina and Ottawa for NHL All Star Games.

And like Islanders All Star forward John Tavares, Sparky prides himself on a team-first attitude.

“Whether he's visiting a fan in a suite for his or her birthday or giving out a prize in the stands, Sparky will do whatever the team asks of him and he has gone from being a prized prospect to an accomplished NHL veteran,” Sparky said.

News

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, more than 600 military veterans and Gold Star families in Hicksville will have to wait for their tax break until next year.

Hicksville is one of several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. On Feb. 26, with a contingency of veterans in the audience, the board voted to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year.

You’d expect volleyball, football and running the mile in gym class, but what about juggling, plate spinning, or riding a unicycle? For the past 30 years, The National Circus Project has been challenging typical notions of gym class by bringing skilled, trained circus artists into schools for performances and week-long workshops.

Every year, the Westbury based nonprofit goes into approximately 350 public and private schools all over the northeast, including a previous visit to Dutch Lane School in Hicksville. Teams of expert circus artists will come into a physical education class for either a day or week-long workshop. Students get a front row seat to a performance by some of the best in the business, as well as hands on experience with traditional circus skills such as juggling, wire walking or acrobatics. Students in the week-long workshop get to perfect a specific skill and show it off during a show at the end of the week for family members.


Sports

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.

This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They are supposed to help you discover who you are.


Calendar

American Legion Meeting

April 21

HS Theater in the Round

April 24-26

Science Fair

April 26



Columns

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

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com