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An Evening Honoring Martin Luther King

When Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 to deliver his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, he envisioned all races and religions coming together and living in peace. Those words, so eloquently spoken, made us think and inspired us to be better people and slowly, over time, change did happen.

Reverend Terry Yvette Cissé, the interim Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown, had a similar dream of bringing different religions and races to her church, and on Sunday her dream came true. Reverends from around Long Island, along with a Cantor, joined together in a musical celebration. “I am excited to bring this event to Levittown," Rev.  Cissé  said. "It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring this community together and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.”

Looking stunning in a gold robe and turban from Timbuktu, where she once lived, Rev. Cissé opened the services with a greeting to the members of the church, many who had come not just locally but from out of state, some from her previous parish in New Jersey. Reverend Mark Tammen, The General Presbyter of Long Island, opened with a prayer and then Universal Praise filled the church with song as part of a musical presentation. After the sign of peace the PAYLA psalmists wowed the audience with more musical renditions, getting the entire church to join in.

The PAYLA project — short for the Pan African Youth Leadership Academy — was created to engage youth in New York and Long Island metropolitan areas from racial ethnic and at risk communities with leadership potential to take an active role in bringing about change in their communities. This project is endorsed by the presbyteries of New York City and Long Island. The funds collected during the service will go toward a camp they are sending students to this summer who will be part of the PAYLA project.

After readings from a Hebrew and Greek bible, Cantor Steve Sher of Temple B’nai Torah of Wantagh sang for the congregation. Liturgical dancers from Christ First Presbyterian of Hempstead, First Presbyterian Church Freeport and the Presbyterian Church of Sweet Hollow, Melville danced throughout the church and engaged the audience members.

Elder Jermaine Ofori Bethel with the House of Yahweh in the Bronx spoke of the life of Martin Luther King. He talked of the legacy that MLK left behind by planting the seeds of hope. Levittown started as a potato farm until WWII ended and the returning GI’s needed affordable housing. William Levitt, a Jewish builder, created Levittown with the stipulation that the homes only be sold to white Christians, no Jews, no blacks. Fast forward to 2014 and here was a multiracial, religious congregation celebrating Martin Luther King’s life, led by their Rev. Cissé a Princeton, Harvard educated woman and the first African American woman to lead the parish.

Rev. Cissé admits that it has not always been easy but she is very optimistic and hopeful about the community and has many more programs to bring different cultures together.

The evening ended with more musical renditions, one from a diminutive Kyetah Bryant with a powerful voice that got everyone up on their feet, clapping and singing. The energy and joy in the church were palpable. As the music ended, the words of Martin Luther King echoed in the church as guests filed out hugging one another. Wiping tears from her eyes Rev. Wanda Hughes, Pastor, Presbyterian Chruch of Garden City had this comment,” I thought it was a joyful celebration. It was inspired and wonderful for all of us to get together and celebrate. I was deeply touched and moved.”

News

A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.

 

All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.

 

Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.

 

Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.

 

In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.

 

“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”

 

With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.

Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.

 

The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.

 

The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “

 

At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.

 

Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.

 

Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.

 

The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.

 

Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county. 

 

The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year. 


Sports

Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.

 

In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs. 

Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.

 

Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games. 


Calendar

Lazy Days Of Summer - July 26

Flea Market - July 27

Darlene Prince and the Bragg Hollow Band - July 28


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