The end-of-year holiday is the season of giving, when we are infused with the spirit of generosity, empathy for those in need and “good will to all” (not to mention a Dec. 31 tax deadline for deductions).
Unfortunately, this year the peak giving season is shorter than usual. The late Thanksgiving holiday truncated the number of fundraising weekends leading up to Christmas. That’s on top of a challenging macro-economic environment, and it is putting the squeeze on charities. Some local fundraisers have quietly indicated that they are worried about meeting year-end objectives.
Santa Claus visited the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, Sunday, Dec. 15. It was a great time for photo ops with the bearded icon in the fur trimmed red velvet suit. This year, a mini-Santa, the North Shore’s Tristan Michael Higdon of Locust Valley, was there to get his first view of the North Pole’s Santa Claus.
Oyster Bay resident Sam Lingen is a big fan of Santa Claus, but he is an even bigger fan of our country’s presidents. The Vernon School student was at the museum to see Santa and meet Teddy Roosevelt, played by actor James Foote.
“Presidents are my thing,” said Lingen. “I like Santa but I really wanted to see President Roosevelt today.”
If you’ve ever thought about immortalizing your pet with a high quality portrait, Yvonne Dagger is the artist to go to. The animal lover/activist has a knack for capturing the essence of each animal she paints, and her work is on display at The Painted Pet, the gallery that recently opened in Locust Valley. The portraits on display are mainly of at-risk shelter animals who Dagger felt “needed a voice” and decided to keep their stories alive and relevant through the oil paintings.
“I wanted to elevate them to a status of fine art, give them a chance to have something better, even if it’s just to be in a painting.”
Peter and Marguerite Casparian will find it easy to adjust to their retirement home when they move to Austin, TX in August of 2014. The Rev. Peter Casparian and his artist wife, Marguerite, collect religious folk art; at a recent fundraiser at the rectory at Christ Church, their collection created a visual delight, demonstrating that they will be able to re-construct that warmth, wherever they live.
“We have even more items in storage,” said Marguerite. When they arrive in Austin, near their daughter, it will be easy to make their new home comfortable and familiar. The two are used to world travel: before coming to Oyster Bay, he was the Rector at St. James American Church in Florence, Italy, and he is involved with an NGO in Guatemala. They began their careers in Kansas, the heartland of America.
There is a lot that goes into putting together a school district’s budget. At last week’s Oyster Bay/East Norwich School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Christopher Van Cott explained the basic fundamentals of preparing a finalized budget.
“The budget formula is to adopt a spending plan which is voted on by the community to operate our district,” said Van Cott.
The weather outside was frightful, but the gala inside was delightful as 250 guests braved the cold, driving rain to celebrate the centennial of Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. The house was decked out in its finest, with an enormous Christmas tree at the entrance. As guests walked past lighted garlands, waiters with silver trays of chilled champagne flanked both sides of the hallway leading to the great room, where music filled with house from the newly restored Steinway piano.
Over the years, Long Island has fostered a wide variety of musicians spanning various genres—including everyone from Billy Joel and Public Enemy to Brand New and Blue Oyster Cult. This trend continues strong today. Currently, there are hundreds of musicians littered across the island. Among them is East Norwich pop singer Steven Rodriguez.
Originally from Brentwood, Rodriguez moved to East Norwich after serving in the US Navy. Upon arriving home from service, Rodriguez’s friend heard him singing and encouraged him to pursue music more seriously.
“When I returned home from the Navy, a good friend heard me singing one day and encouraged me to sing with a band his friend was putting together.”
Outgoing Long Island Museum Association (LIMA) President Philip Blocklyn announced at their annual meeting that LIMA will offer three professional development grants in 2014 to support member organizations in sending professional staff to conferences, workshops and seminars, whether national, regional, or local in scope.
“The grants are designed," Blocklyn said, “to encourage all of us in the museum association to make professional development a part of our missions.”
The application process and procedures will be available to member organizations in January.
To enter Raynham Hall on any given day is to step back in time. A recent Sunday, however, had visitors experiencing an especially poignant glimpse into life as it was during the Victorian age as Michael Goudket performed an uncanny portrayal of the infamous Dickens’ character, Ebeneezer Scrooge.
“Storytelling was one of the main sources of entertainment for people in those days,” said Goudket.
It therefore seems fitting that the art of storytelling be experienced in the Victorian parlor of the museum with one of the era’s most popular novellas, A Christmas Carol.
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than with music, and critically acclaimed pianist Stan Wiest will be hosting a holiday sing-a-long at Locust Valley Library to help get everyone in the mood on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Wiest has been playing piano since he was 5 years old, and now, at age 69, has recorded his first CD; an album that has been so well-received, it is a top seller on Amazon.com. The talented pianist spent much of his early career traveling and says he played every supper club in Manhattan, while also working full time on a TV soap opera. To promote his album, his local circuit also includes a presentation at Forest Books in Glen Cove on Dec. 12.
About 30 years ago, Wiest stopped traveling to be with his wife and kids and has been running a music entertainment business in Fort Salonga. Now, with his new album, he’s back on the road, something he never expected to happen at this point in his life.
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