My photos are up at the library!

3 Aug

In the 13 years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve taken a LOT of photos.

I mean, they easily number into the tens of thousands. You know me; I can take 150 at one parade alone. Through the years, they’ve captured adults and children, chronicled events both happy and sad, helped announce new businesses and shined a spotlight on unsung heroes and hidden gems in the community. They are sometimes whimsical, sometimes very serious.

In a sense, the photos have become a historical record of Webster people, places and events.

One of the 24 photos I chose for the display

It’s probably partly for that reason that Laureen Anthony-Palmer at the Webster Public Library invited me to put together a display of my photos for the library’s Artist’s Wall. It took me a while to warm up to the idea, but eventually I decided it would be kind of fun, and I started digging into a dozen years’ worth of backed-up photo files and Facebook galleries.

Choosing just a small percentage of those photos, as you might imagine, was rather difficult. But it was indeed fun to look back through the years at all the events I’ve been to and people I’ve met. Eventually I selected 24 of my favorites for the display, wrote captions, mounted them and — with my husband’s help — hung them at the library a few days ago. They’re organized into three sections representing the main things I like to highlight in the blog: kids, community and events.

The photos will be on display through August, so I invite you to stop by any time during normal library hours and take a look. You might even see yourself or someone you know in one of them.

The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd., at the back of Webster Plaza.

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Adorable new book is based on a local farmer

2 Aug

If you’ve ever driven down Lake Road in Ontario, perhaps you’ve occasionally seen a farmer standing by his fence giving you a huge smile and wave. If so, then you’ve “met” Bob, the main character of a brand new children’s book written by Pultneyville resident Keith Herman called Baby Donkeys for Sale.

Bob and his wife Karen own Wychmere Farms, a large, picturesque farm about a half mile east of Ontario Center Rd. For years, whenever Bob’s been out tending to his land and donkeys, he’s tossed a friendly wave to each passing car. For folks who frequently travel along Lake Road, Farmer Bob has become kind of a local hero. His friendliness has brightened the day for thousands of travelers, usually eliciting smiles and hearty waves in return.

Keith Herman is one of those thousands whose life Farmer Bob has touched. He has smiled and waved back along with everyone else. But he also decided to write a book about the farmer’s kindness.

Herman remembers when he started seeing the friendly farmer.

I would drive from Pultneyville to my office in Webster on a daily basis. After a while I started noticing a couple of things. There’s this majestic farm, cobblestone with silos, barns, split rail fences and some livestock. On occasion I’d see this sign out by the road in front of their house that said “baby donkeys for sale.”

But then something slowly started happening over time. If the farmer was out he would give me a wave. He didn’t know me. He would just give me a wave. And not just a wave. A kind of big wave.

It was hit and miss, but I would look forward to seeing him again.

One day, Herman decided to stop, pull into the farmer’s driveway and thank him for taking the time to wave. It was the beginning of a long friendship.

The more Herman got to know the farmer, the more stories he’d hear about others who stopped to say thank you. Like the neighbors who tucked a note into his mailbox which read, “You don’t know us, but know how grateful we are that you keep waving to people.” Or the woman who stopped and handed him an apple pie, telling him how much his waves made her day.

It was about three years ago that Herman decided to turn the heartwarming story into a children’s book. The idea came to him when he and his daughter Emily were doing some offshore sailing, working toward a goal of sailing around the world. It’s a sport which Herman characterizes as “99% boredom and 1% sheer terror.” It was during one of those exceedingly boring spells when he decided that writing a series of children’s books would help pass the time and give more purpose to their sailing quest.

Oliver visiting with a donkey

Baby Donkeys for Sale draws on Herman’s experiences and the stories Farmer Bob told him. It’s told through the eyes of Grampy (Herman himself) and his real-life grandson Oliver. (Oliver, naturally, is more interested in the donkeys than chatting with the farmer.) It’s beautifully illustrated by one of Herman’s Pultneyville neighbors, nationally-known watercolor artist Roland “Chip” Stevens.

It’s a simple story about how a small kindness can make a big impact, even though it might be subtle.

“I think the message would be … if you extend yourself and show kindness to people, it comes back to you in unexpected ways and you’re going to have a better life,” Herman said.

Herman says he’ll probably wait until he’s back on the sailboat, “bored out of my mind,” before he starts working on his next book in earnest. In the meantime, however, you might see him walking with his golden retriever around his Pultneyville neighborhood, waving at everyone who passes by.

Baby Donkeys for Sale can be purchased on Amazon.com and Bookbaby.com.


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WCSD invites kindergartners to Strive for Five

1 Aug

The start of the new school year is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about buying supplies, getting up early again, and catching the bus.

For our youngest students, getting on a big school bus on that first day of school can be a little bit scary. A great program called Strive for Five for School Bus Safety helps allay some of those fears.

The program, now it is 15th year, is designed for 2021/22 incoming kindergarteners. It provides children the chance to travel a short distance on a school bus with their parent(s)/guardians and to learn important safety procedures for riding a bus.

The program will start at Willink Middle School on Publisher’s Parkway, where the bus will pick up participants and bring them to (and from) the transportation department. The buses leave Willink at 6 p.m. and return about an hour later.

While at the transportation department, students will rotate through five stations teaching them the following safety elements:

  • Loading and unloading the bus
  • Proper crossing procedures
  • Danger zones surrounding the bus
  • Appropriate behavior on the bus
  • Emergency equipment/evacuation

Incoming kindergartners and their parents (no additional children, please) should attend as follows, if at all possible. IF you can’t make your assigned evening, you can come on another, but they district really likes to spread everyone out as much as possible.

August 2 – Plank South
August 3 – Plank North and Schlegel Rd.
August 4 – Klem South and Dewitt Rd.
August 5 – Klem North and State Road

Private and parochial students residing in the Webster Central School District can attend any one of the four dates.

For more information on the program, please contact the transportation department at 265-3840.

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Family game night: happy children, happy meeting

1 Aug

Friday night’s first-ever Family Game Night seemed to be a popular event. When I joined it about an hour into the evening’s festivities, a few hundred people were milling around or seated at the tables. Many were enjoying their beverages or having dinner, others were listening to the musician, or chatting with friends, or playing games and chalking the street with their children.

Basically, everyone who attended was having a good time doing SOMETHING, appreciating the excuse to get out of the house again and spend some time with friends and neighbors on a beautiful summer evening.

The best part of the evening, however, was the opportunity for kids to have some fun in a safe environment while their parents socialized. The organizers — the Webster Business Improvement District — had put out giant games for the kids to play with, like Jenga, Connect Four and Cornhole. There was also plenty of sidewalk chalk to be had, and by the time I got there, West Main Street was already filled with artwork.

It was all a very pleasant ending to the village’s Christas in July Week.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the evening:

The happy meeting which I mentioned in the headline referred to the chance I had to meet and share a pint with Colin Minster, the new editor of the Webster Herald.

Colin replaces Anna Hubbel, who has been with the paper for the last seven years. Colin brings with him experience as a writer and researcher for the Finger Lakes Times, but this is his first full-time editing position. He’s fairly new to Webster, but in the short time he’s been here, he seems to have fallen in love with the town, and is looking forward to telling everyone more about it.

“I like Webster a lot,” he said. “There are so many cool, fun things that Webster does. It’s such a cool town.”

So you can expect the Herald to continue to cover hard news stories, like the recent sewer consolidation discussions, but also lots of community news, like Colin’s reflections on the recent Waterfront Arts Festival. Both stories ran on the front page of last week’s edition. He also hopes to fire up a few columns of his own.

Colin currently lives in Penn Yan but is looking to buy a house in Webster.

Welcome to Webster, Colin. I think you’re really going to like it here.

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First-ever holiday summer parade a hit

30 Jul

It wasn’t the Firemen’s Parade we are all accustomed to (and it wasn’t supposed to be). But last night’s Webster Holiday Parade was a delight for parade-starved community residents who just needed SOMETHING to celebrate this summer.

The Webster Business Improvement District (BID) organized the event as part of the village’s Christmas in July celebration, which began with a showing of the movie Elf on Tuesday and continues tonight with a Family Games Night and Beer Garden on Main Street from 6 to 9 p.m.

And while it wasn’t the two-hour long spectacle we’ve come to expect with the Firemen’s Parade, the holiday-themed parade had enough fire trucks, EMT vehicles and candy-tossing to keep the kids happy. A few other community organizations put together some Christmas-wrapped floats, and Dancing With Denise broke out their holiday costumes.

Following the parade, kids and their parents streamed down to the gazebo where they could decorate cookies and join in some Christmas caroling.

Thank you to all of the organizations who participated in last night’s parade, and for the BID for pulling it together on such short notice. Visit the Webster BID website for more details about tonight’s activities.

Click here to see a gallery of photos, including almost everyone who really got into the spirit and dug out their Santa hats, Christmas-light necklaces and reindeer antlers for the occasion.

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P.S. Here’s another gallery of photos you might like, courtesy Mary White.

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Happy Bella’s Bumbas news and library stuff

29 Jul

Back in June, I posted a blog about how the Webster-based dance studio Dancing With Denise raised money and made a very generous donation to Bella’s Bumbas, a nonprofit grassroots organization which builds pint-sized “Bumba” wheelchairs for children with mobility issues.

The money was earmarked for a particular project Bella’s Bumbas was working on: building and shipping eight of the miniature wheelchairs to Algeria.

I found out several days ago that those chairs were shipped, have been received, and the children are already enjoying the Bella’s Bumba benefits of mobility, greater self-confidence and independence. (Check out those smiling faces in the photos below, sent from Algeria!)

Bella’s Bumbas is run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In the four years since Marty built the first Bumba for their niece Bella, they’ve shipped close to 2000 chairs to children in 46 countries (including ALGERIA), often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the parents only for shipping.

Rebecca and Marty could barely contain their excitement on Facebook, where they wrote:

Well, it was a bit of a learning curve and journey but all the chairs made it to ALGERIA and the 8 children.

We owe an amazing amount of thank you’s to Dancing With Denise for a majority of the funds, Aziz Anas Ziad that assisted the families in Algeria with sending in their request papers, Samir the gentleman who received and distributed the chairs (and put on an amazing little party complete with gifts and hats for the children), Mohamed who connected us to Samir, and the amazing Association El Kawther who also assisted Samir to recieve the chairs from customs … INDEED it has taken so much compassion and cooperation for this adventure.

The excitement in Algeria could also be felt across the miles, summed up in comments like this one: “Thank you so much for this. Those children really need to be happy and independent persons. Biiiig thanks from Algeria.”

Rebecca and Marty have earned the right to step back and rest a bit after this huge project. But I’m sure they’ve already ramped up production again, and will almost certainly notch a few more countries before the end of the year.

Read more about the Bella’s Bumbas mission and how you can help on their Facebook page and their website.


Lots of things happening at the Webster Public Library these days, and I’ve been remiss in letting you know about them. So here you go:

  • Project Homeless Connect Rochester is holding its annual coat drive event on September 15th at the Public Market in downtown Rochester, and the library is helping with the collection. Community members are encouraged to donate clean, new coats in the library collection box right now (don’t wait until September!) Donations can be dropped off any time that the library is open, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 pm and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Can’t make the morning live storytimes at the Harmony Park gazebo? The library has recently added some Wednesday evening storytimes on Aug. 4 and 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The park is located on Foster Drive off of Phillips Rd. No registration is required.
  • As part of the Tales & Tails Summer Reading theme, the library is partnering with Operation Freedom Ride by collecting donations for underfunded rescues and shelters through August. Their mission is to rescue homeless dogs and cats and find them adopters in NY. Donations will be collected through August. Each donation will earn a kernel of food in our dog dish on the bulletin board outside the Children’s Room. Watch it grow!

See a complete list of requested items on the Webster Public Library Facebook page.

All these items just scratch the surface of what’s going on down there at the library. Check out their beautiful, brand new website for details about these and dozens of other special things that happen there every month. The library is located at the back of Webster Plaza, 980 Ridge Rd.

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Local Girl Scouts hunt for experiences in annual “QuestFest”

28 Jul
Team Sarski: (Front row) Karolynn Shaw, Samantha Byerts, Harleigh Simmons, Isabella Coradaro
(Back Row) Jennifer Shaw, Madison Fisher, Reagan Provo, Savannah Riggs, Kaelan Campbell, Addison Terrana, Abigale Terrana

Webster Girl Scout Troop 63113 joined troops from all over the world last weekend for an epic scavenger hunt.

The virtual Girl Scout QuestFest is an annual two-day event hosted by the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, held this year on July 24 and 25. Webster’s “Team Sarski” was one of 47 Girl Scout teams participating in the event from all over the U.S. and as far away as Alaska, Canada, Venezuela and Tokyo.

(L-R) Reagan Provo and Isabella Cordaro present flowers to Chris Rauber-Wasson at BC’s Chicken Coop for the “Drive-thru Kindness Challenge,” to thank the owners for their continuous support of Webster Girl Scouts.

The weekend’s adventures began with an official opening ceremony on Saturday, when the girls found out what this year’s challenges would be. To complete each one, they used smartphones or other devices to submit either a photo or video. Some challenges they could accomplish from their own homes, but others required going out into the community.

Unlike other scavenger hunts, however, the girls didn’t have to find THINGS. They had to search for EXPERIENCES. The challenges were designed with Girl Scout values in mind, so while they were having fun, the girls were also making the world a better place (as evidenced by the kindness challenge pictured to the left).

Team Sarski, comprised of seven Webster girls and two former troop members now living in Virginia and Maine, did a great job. The team was co-captained by troop leaders Abigale Terrana and Jennifer Shaw, who report that the girls successfully completed every single challenge and came in fifth overall. While that wasn’t better than their second place finish in 2020, they did almost double last year’s score.

Karolynn Shaw completing the “Take the Time to Smell the Roses” challenge.

“We are so proud of how they did!” Shaw added.

The troop is already looking forward to participating in QuestFest 2022 next summer. In the meantime, however, they hope to visit Savannah, Georgia in February, which Shaw called their “dream trip.” They’ve been fundraising for several years in anticipation, and hope to cover the entire cost of the trip for the girls.

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The Christmas lights are going up!

27 Jul

A friend of mine noticed last night as she was heading toward my house that village workers are stringing up Christmas lights on Main Street.

You know what that means, of course.

IT’S CHRISTMAS IN JULY IN THE VILLAGE!

We’ve all been pretty parade-starved these last few summers, so I think the most exciting news about this week is the Firemen’s Holiday Parade taking place Thursday night from 7 to 8 p.m. on Main St.

Now this is not going to be anywhere near as big as the Firemen’s parades that herald the return of the Firemen’s Carnival every year, but c’mon… it’s a parade. And it’s an excuse to wear Santa hats and jingle bells in July.

True to the “Christmas in July” theme, there will also be caroling and Christmas cookie decorating at the gazebo Thursday night.

Then, on Friday July 30, West Main Street will be closed for an evening of family games and entertainment…and beer.

The village’s first-ever Family Games Night and Beer Garden will feature sidewalk chalk art for the kids (and adults), giant street games like Jenga and Connect Four, and a free yoga class. The Coach Sports Bar will be serving up beer and wine and Webster Hots will offer dinner options.

Live acoustic music is also on tap from 6:30 to 8 p.m. featuring Steve Bartolotta.

Christmas in July events actually start tonight, with a showing of Elf (yes the Christmas movie!) at Movie Night in Gazebo Park beginning at 8 p.m.

It’s all being brought to you by the members of Webster’s Business Improvement District, the group that organizes all of the fun events in the village, from the Trick or Treat Trail to White Christmas. For more details, visit websterbid.com.

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A morning of baseball like no other

26 Jul

“Heroes Helping Heroes.” There was absolutely no better way to describe the incredible event held Saturday at Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester.

You’ve read about this magical place in my blog before. Miracle Field is located in Ridge Park adjacent to Town Hall. This beautiful facility was specifically designed for individuals with physical and/or cognitive challenges and is fully wheelchair accessible. It offers those with developmental, physical or intellectual disabilities a barrier-free, safe, accessible place to experience the health benefits and joy of play through baseball, other team sports, and adaptive recreational equipment.

On Saturday, these young athletes were joined on the baseball diamond by local first responders — police officers, State Troopers, EMTs, firefighters — who ran with them around the bases and assisted them in the field.

Heroes helping heroes.

It’s a delight to see the joy on the faces of these young people when they hit the ball, round the bases and score runs. Or when they successfully snag a grounder — which is such a joyous event they’d rather show it to the adult standing next to them than actually throw it to a base. Their mile-wide grins are infectious, and their jubilation as they cross the plate makes every heart smile.

Saturday’s event featured several ballgames, plus kids’ activities, a dunk tank, a fire truck to climb on, a mounted patrol officer with her horse to pet, food trucks, give-aways, and lots more. It was a super, well-coordinated event that was a delight for everyone who attended. Thank you to Linda Burke, Don Barone, Ron Kampff, the rest of the Miracle Field members and staff, and all of the volunteers for making it a great day. I look forward to next year.

Click here for a gallery of more photos.

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Waterfront Art Festival continues today

25 Jul

I stopped by the Waterfront Art Festival with my camera yesterday, just long enough to walk the entire circle of artisans spread across the lawns and around the ponds at North Ponds Park. I didn’t have more than a few dollars on me, which in retrospect was probably a good thing since I would have dropped a lot of cash at some of the booths. (Thinking ahead to Christmas already.)

This year’s festival really does seem bigger than the ones I’ve walked through in previous years, and both the variety and quality of the arts and crafts on display were impressive. (Visit the festival’s website to see a list.)

There was also a “food court” of sorts with several food trucks, a wine/beer/cider tasting tent and and some decent entertainment. And the weather was gorgeous, something else that will continue today along with the festival.

As I am prone to do at events, I took a lot of photos. There are a few here, but click here to see a Facebook gallery with many others.

The Waterfront Art Festival continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at North Ponds Park, right off of Rt. 104. Admission is $3 for adults, free for kids 12 and under, and there’s plenty of free parking.

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