Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
The New York Islanders’ winged mascot, Sparky the Dragon, who graduated from Carle Place High School, 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 The Westbury Times 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.
Saturday, 18 May 2013 00:00
For most of the ’80s, ZZ Top was an inescapable presence thanks to a plethora of videos, often times containing underdog storylines revolving around gorgeous gals, a 1933 Ford hotrod and the hirsute threesome serving as a Greek chorus of cool to the aggrieved protagonist. But amidst all the bells and whistles, the most impressive feat pulled off by this Texas power trio was using 1983’s Eliminator to adapt its bluesy hard rock boogie sound and modernize it with synthesizers and drum machines sans any kind of artistic compromising.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
John Romandetti saved six people, but he shies away from the title hero.
“I don’t think of myself as a hero,” Romandetti says. “It’s nothing anyone else wouldn’t have done.”
During Hurricane Sandy, Romandetti risked his own life to go out to Howard Beach and get his girlfriend’s family out of their flooding homes. The Bethpage Air Show recently recognized his bravery, naming him the grand prize winner of the Hurricane Sandy Community Heroes contest. Romandetti, along with nine other winners, will receive VIP tickets to the Bethpage Air Show, plus the reception, and GEICO Skytypers Planeside Meet and Greet. As the grand prize winner, Romandetti also gets the chance to fly with the GEICO Skytypers during next week’s airshow.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Westbury Okinawan Karate recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary of coming to the Westbury Recreation Center. Since then, the dojo has trained 250 students, ages six and up, in the art of karate with the style of traditional Okinawan ShorinRyu Shidokan.
Founded by sensei John Power, the classes seek to instill the confidence and strength needed to obtain success in everyday life.
“A lot of kids are lacking confidence,” said Power. “We let them practice leadership in the class and this contributes to their confidence.
Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Members of the Carle Place Sparc/Interact club recently donated their time and talents at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Queens. Working together with students from Mineola High School and Holy Cross High School in Queens, the SPARC members planted over 1,000 indigenous trees to help replenish one section of the 600-acre forest park. The group’s efforts were part of the NYC Plant a Million Trees Project in honor of Arbor Day, celebrated on Friday April 26th. The Carle Place planters were: Sarah Megiel, Kelsey Feit, Julia Powell, Sabrina Feit, Monique Slater, Matt Carr, Katie Megiel, Rob Ibos, and Lauren Powell. They are led by faculty advisor Kieran Morris.