Barry’s Old School Irish honored … AGAIN

18 Aug

Barry’s Old School Irish is making Webster proud again.

Our authentic little Irish pub, located smack dab in the middle of the Village of Webster, has already racked up numerous accolades from places like the Irish Post and TripAdvisor, which have both named Barry’s one of the best Irish pubs in the United States. Today, Danny and Jessica Barry can add yet another distinction to the list., a New York City-based website focusing on good food and drink, has just published their ranking of the “Best Irish Pubs in America,” and of course our very own Barry’s Old School Irish is on that list.

Tasting Table’s list includes 22 pubs located in 14 states stretching from Hawaii to New York, North Dakota to Florida. Each listing gives a little background of the pub and what makes it special. Barry’s listing reads:

A few years ago, Jessica and Danny Barry were on their honeymoon in Ireland. After falling in love with the charming pubs throughout the Irish countryside, the Barrys aimed to bring back a taste of that charm to their hometown, and Barry’s Old School was born.

Though locals love this pub, it has also been recognized as one of the top 20 Irish pubs in the United States and one of the best in New York state. With the typical drink fare and great food, the menu features favorites like the Barry family’s homemade potato and herb soup and the Bunratty wrap. You’ll also find favorites like the Reuben and shepherd’s pie.

Each year, the pub also hosts its own Irish festival, complete with Guinness sponsorship. With activities in yoga, kids’ activities, music, beer trucks, food trucks, craft vendors, and even an Irish dance performance, this festival certainly succeeds in the Barry’s goal of bringing the life of an Irish pub home.

And as you can see from the photo above, the article is illustrated by just one of the special features that makes Barry’s Old School an AUTHENTIC Irish pub, the weekly traditional music session (every Saturday at 2 p.m. Don’t miss it.)

Congratulations, Danny and Jess Barry for this latest achievement.

Click here to read the entire article.

Barry’s Old School Irish is located at 2 West Main St. in the Village of Webster. Click here to see their webpage, and here for their Facebook page to learn more.

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(posted 8/18/2022)

The marching band has followed me to the village

17 Aug

For years, when we were still living in North Penfield just off of Hatch Rd., we would occasionally hear the Webster Marching Band practicing in the Webster Schroeder parking lot. The school was more than a mile away, but every once in a while the prevailing winds would carry the music all the way to our house, and we could clearly hear snippets of the tunes they were working on.

Hearing the music drifting in on the warm breezes was one of the little things I always enjoyed about summer. Since we moved to the village three years ago, I’ve missed that simple pleasure.

But I got it back this summer.

Thanks to some set of circumstances, the Webster Marching Band has been displaced from their usual stomping grounds at Schroeder, and this summer are holding their practices at Spry Middle School, basically right across the street from my village home.

It’s like I’m getting a preview of this year’s program. And if it’s anything like last year’s — when the band took top State honors — it will be an award winner.

That’s just one more great thing about living in the village: music at the pubs, music at the gazebo, music in the streets … and now music across the street from me.

At least for a few more weeks.

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(posted 8/18/2022)

Museum news: new ceiling being installed, new writers wanted

16 Aug

The Webster Museum is getting a new ceiling, which means it’s been having to close for a few days to get the work completed. This week, the museum will be closed on Thursday, but will reopen on Saturday for its regular hours of 2 to 4:30 p.m.

In other news, a call has been put out for writers who would be interested in helping complete updates to Esther Dunn’s Webster Though the Years book.

For the last several years, a small band of writers has been working to update the volume, which was originally pubilshed in 1970. Much of the work has been completed, but a few chapters remain and the group would love to have a few more hands to help get it across the finish line.

The volunteer position offers:

  • a personable, friendly and supportive group of researchers and writers and other volunteers
  • access to the museum’s written and electronic resources
  • assistance with computer issues and research as needed
  • colleagues proofread each other’s work
  • (best of all) no deadlines

There’s a link on the museum website to some of the work, so you can get a taste of what’s been completed. It will eventually also include extensive biographies of Webster personages and early history studies.

If you’re interested in helping out and sharing your love for Webster history, write to Kathy at and she’ll get back in touch.

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(posted 8/16/2022)

Jazz Festival and mini street fair come to Webster Village this weekend

15 Aug

Get ready to dance in the streets and in the pubs this weekend, when the Webster Jazz Festival returns to the village, with great music, food, drink, a mini-street fair and — this year — t-shirts!

The Webster Jazz Festival will stretch over two days this Friday and Saturday Aug. 19 and 20, kicking off with “Jazz in the Pubs” Friday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. Six different bands are scheduled to perform at six different village pubs and restaurants, with staggered start times, so you can visit visit several (or all) of the venues for a drink and a bite to eat, and enjoy as many bands as you like.

Here’s the schedule (click on the name to get more information about each band):

West Main will also be hopping that evening with a brand new event sponsored by the Webster BID which they’re calling the Jazz Fair in the Street.

West Main will be closed to traffic for the evening, and the curbs lined with vendors, artisans, local business booths, and maybe even some fun and games. Plus, food and beverages will be available for purchase. (It’s kind of like a mini Village Days.) It’ll be a great chance to meet up with neighbors and friends, maybe do a litle shopping, while you’re meandering from one pub to the next to enjoy some live music.

Here are a few of the artisans and vendors you’ll see there:

  • Mayers Cider Mill cider and donut tastings
  • Catlan Samuels book signing
  • botique items
  • live, professional sidewalk artists
  • Roc City Empanadas food truck
  • craft items including tie-dyed shirts, waterfalls and bird baths, and laser-engraved pieces

On Saturday night the festival clicks up a notch when the music takes to the street.

Beginning at 4 p.m., an outstanding lineup of musical entertainment will perform from the big West Main St. stage, featuring musicians from around Rochester and Upstate. There will be some tables and chairs set up, but they go pretty fast, so plan to bring your own, set them up in the middle of the street and enjoy music all evening long.

The schedule looks like this:

This is always a huge event, so you’ll really want to be a part of it. Admission is free.

And while you’re in town, make sure to stop by Woodland Silkscreening, 5 West Main (lower level), and pick up your official Jazz Fest 2022 t-shirt. Look for her table on Friday during the street fair, or stop by the shop anytime this week for a special pre-sale deal of just $10 each (they’ll be $15 the day of the festival). What a great price for something you can wear proudly every year to show off your love of Webster — and great music.

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(posted 8/15/2022)

Bygone blog — a letter to my son

14 Aug

My husband and I spent Saturday moving my son Sean to the Bronx, where he’ll soon begin a new teaching job. It took us more than six hours to get there, and the rest of the day to unpack the U-Haul before turning around to drive three more hours to crash at my sister’s house overnight.

So basically, it was a nonstop day which didn’t allow me much time to think about what the move will mean to all of our lives. You see, for the last month, Sean has been living with us, having had to vacate his Webster apartment at the end of June. His comings and goings, culinary eccentricities and unkempt room were reminiscent of his college days.

It was wonderful.

But now he’s gone, and since he’ll probably love his new job and living in the Big City, I expect it’ll be for good this time. As I sat on my porch in the much quieter, much emptier house, I was thinking about that, and remembered this blog I posted in June, 2011. I’ve reposted it once before, but it seems especially appropos today.

A letter to my son at camp

(originally posted June 20, 2011)

Lenore Skenazy had a funny column in Sunday morning’s newspaper. Maybe you saw it; she had come across a website which actually gave instructions to parents on how to write a letter to their child at camp. Now, I didn’t go so far as to try to find that website, but I suspect the advice is aimed at parents whose young children are at a sleep-away camp, perhaps for the first time.

My daughter showed me the column yesterday.  She suggested I follow the website’s instructions and send a letter to my son, who left for camp Friday morning.  I thought that was a terrific idea.

But since my son is 21 years old and will be spending his entire summer as a counselor at the YMCA’s Camp Gorham in the Adirondacks, mine reads a bit differently:

Dear Sean,

I hope you had a safe trip to camp on Friday morning. Actually, I know you did; your dad took you there personally since we won’t let you have your own car until you can pay collision costs yourself for a change.

I miss you already. I was just remarking on that as I gathered your laundry from the floor in your room and rediscovered the color of your carpet.  I will miss all the charming peculiarities that make you unique and that bring us such joy at home.

Like your superhuman ability to eat an entire box of cereal in just two bowlfuls. And an entire 29-ounce can of peaches in one sitting.

I will miss seeing what new musical instrument you have decided to befriend this week. I will miss the way you can see music in everything. Like when you “conduct” the directional signal in my car as it makes its steady blinky noise, and how you can turn any surface in the house into an impromptu drum when we least expect it. I will miss having to high-step through my office so as to not step on a cymbal or flute or tambourine.

I will miss hearing the “SLAM!  THUNK!” when you come in from teaching in the evening, slamming the door behind you and dropping everything you carry within a one-foot radius. I will miss having to kick you out of the lounge chair because Dad and I want to use the TV ourselves for a change.  I will miss worrying if you’ll be up in time for your appointments because you stayed up all night playing video games.

Yes, I will miss all of these things, because as aggravating as they all are, they all mean you’re home and you’re safe. And that’s all a mom needs to know.

So have fun at camp this summer, Sean. I’ll miss you. But I’ll try to remember that I get you nine months of the year, so it’s only fair those kids at Camp Gorham get you the other three months.

They have no idea how lucky they are.

Love, Mom

I could have written pretty much this same letter today, with just a few changes towards the end:

So have a great life in the Bronx, Sean. I’ll miss you. But I’ll try to remember that you will come back to visit sometimes on long weekends and holiday vacations (emphasis on “WILL“), and it’s only fair that those kids at Horace Mann School will get you the rest of the time.

They have no idea how lucky they are.

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(posted 8/14/2022)

First Responders 5K returns to the village

11 Aug

I like participating in 5Ks. (You’ll notice I didn’t say “run” 5Ks, because the pace I set cannot actually be called “running.”) So I’m really looking forward to one of my favorite 5Ks ever, the First Responders 5K.

This is a favorite for a few reasons. First, it’s in the Village of Webster. I can walk to the start line AND it runs right by my house. Second, SO MANY of my Webster friends also run. And finally, some of the proceeds benefit a great cause.

The race website explains,

The First Responders 5K recognizes the strength, perseverance, and courage of police officers, firefighters, EMTs, 911 operators and their families in our local community.

First responders put their lives on the line for us every day as they face hardships that most of us will never know. The repetitive negative experience of stressful and potentially traumatic events that first responders face on a daily basis leaves them particularly vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder. We hope that this event can raise awareness for PTSD in first responders, and raise funds for a local charity, FRST Agency, that will provide support, awareness, assets, and services to first responders seeking assistance in dealing with the effects of PTSD.

A portion of proceeds, as well as 100% of additional donations, will be donated to the FRST Agency

The race is scheduled for Friday Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. It will BEGIN AND END at the south side of Fireman’s Field on Sanford St., and take racers through east-side village neighborhoods. Cost is $30 ($35 after Aug. 14), or $15 for active first responders. Each racer will also receive a t-shirt, and food and drink after the race.

My family will once again be setting up our “refreshment” stop on Fuller Ave., with water — and beer — so watch for our signs!

To register for the race, and for more information including a course map, click here . They’re also looking for volunteers, which is an easy gig and nets you a t-shirt, too. You can also find out more about that opportunity on the website.

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(posted 8/11/2022)

Miracle Field is having a birthday party!

10 Aug

You’ve heard me sing the praises of Rochester Challenger Miracle Field many times here in this blog. If you haven’t visited this tremendous facility yet, there’s a party coming up that’ll be a great chance to do so.

Believe it or not, it was a full five years ago that Miracle Field officially opened its gates, the culmination of many years of planning and hard work. Since then, the field and its dedicated team of volunteers have brought the pure joy of sports and teamwork to hundreds of Challenger athletes.

In celebration of this big anniversary, Miracle Field is having a Birthday Bash. On Thursday Aug. 18 the community is invited to cheer on the Challenger players as they compete in a friendly kickball game. While you’re there, you can check out the field, the pavilion and the wheelchair-accessible Karpus Family Playground. There’ll be music, food and refreshments, a raffle and more.

Tickets for the party are $15 per person or $40 for the family. They must be purchased ahead of time. Click here for information.

Rochester Challenger Miracle Field is located on Ridge Road behind Town Hall. It’s designed for individuals with physical and/or cognitive challenges and is fully wheelchair accessible. It offers children and adults 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.

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(posted 8/10/2022)

Webster man may be first ultra runner with Spina Bifida

9 Aug

Anyone who runs, even short distances, knows that running isn’t always easy. Too often, pounding the pavement means pushing through mental barriers, blisters and sore muscles.  

But that all pales compared to the challenges Mike Fitzsimmons has had to overcome. 

Mike Fitzsimmons was born on January 26, 1986 with myelomeningocele, the most serious type of Spina Bifida. His spine had not fused completely, and there was an open wound in his back where spinal fluid was leaking out. His parents were told that if their son lived, he’d be severely disabled, in a wheelchair and have no quality of life. Within 48 hours he had surgery to close the wound, but Mike’s chances of ever walking were still very slim.

But sometimes miracles happen. Today, 36 years later, Mike Fitzsimmons is not only walking, but is running ultra marathons, and so far is the only known person with Spina Bifida to do so. 

Mike was fortunate; all his life he’s had normal feeling in his feet, knees and ankles, and led an active childhood, playing sports of all kinds. But he didn’t become a runner until much later, when life started to turn very sour.

When he was 19 years old, Mike’s mother developed early-onset Alzheimer’s, and he became her caregiver. She passed away ten years later. 

“When she died, I was so lost and broken. I needed to do something,” he remembered. “I hated running, (but) I didn’t want to take Xanax, or get into drugs or booze. I thought, let’s just try this stupid running stuff everyone’s taking about.” 

For a while the running-as-therapy worked, at least a little bit. Then two years later, his best friend took his own life, and that made matters worse. He started running even longer distances. 

By the time COVID hit in 2020, running had become an important part of Mike’s life.  Setting a personal challenge to run a half marathon seemed like a natural next step, and a great way to get through the pandemic. To make it more interesting, he’d also journal about his experience on Instagram. 

“I didn’t even know what a hashtag was at that point,” he said. “I’m in my mid-30s, no one cares about what some middle-aged dude is doing, trying to figure out how to run a silly half marathon. But it was going to be cool for me. Like, Spina Bifida, half marathon, let’s see what it becomes.” And anyway, he thought, “no one’s going to find it.” 

Boy, was he wrong. 

The Instagram account started to blow up, drawing followers from both the disabled and long distance running communities. His fans cheered him on as he trained for and eventually completed the virtual 2021 Buffalo half-marathon, running the 13.1 miles through his neighborhood. He credits them – and his wife Amelia – for keeping him going.

Having accomplished that goal, he decided to take a break and ignore the Instagram account for a while. But he started to miss all of the friends he’d made there. So, with their encouragement, he signed up for the Mind the Ducks 12-hour ultra marathon, held in May at North Ponds Park, setting an ambitious goal of 50K (31 miles). 

Mike still has chronic problems with his kidneys and bladder, which makes managing hydration a serious concern and requires some extra preparation and precautions.  Despite that however, he finished his 50K – actually, 32.48 miles – in just over 7.5 hours. 

It may very well be the first time anyone with Spina Bifida has completed an ultra marathon. 

As the story of Mike’s running achievements has spread, he’s created a unique and inspirational connection between the running community and the disabled community. It’s a role he didn’t go looking for, but has come to embrace. He’s now determined to spread the word about the amazing things children and adults can accomplish, even with a disability.  

He especially wants to help change the negative perceptions medical professionals continue to have about the prognosis for those born with Spina Bifida.

“It bugs me that it’s still the narrative (for doctors and nurses) nearly 40 years later… I would just love it if a mom heard, ‘Yeah it might be really bad, but what if it’s really good? What if it’s amazing? What if they’re in a wheelchair, but maybe they’ll cure cancer?’” 

What he’s accomplished, he said, is a good example. “It just shows that you can do anything, be anyone.” 

“I don’t want to be ‘Mike the Spina Bifida Guy’ who runs crazy runs forever. It’s cool that it’s a part of it. But I also like music and hanging out with my wife.” 

A diagnosis of Spina Bifida does not have to define a person, he added. “There’s so many awesome aspects to all of us.”

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Mike Fitzsimmons isn’t slowing down yet. He’s already training hard for his next ultra, the 100-mile Dreadmill 48-hour Endurance Challenge in December. Matter of fact, the day before I talked with him he’d run a half-marathon. That’s 13 miles. With a broken toe. 

He’s using Dreadmill Challenge as a fundraiser for one of his favorite causes, Bella’s Bumbas, a Webster-based nonprofit dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues, including Spina Bifida. (Read more about them here.) 

You can follow Mike’s running journey, and read more inspirational stories, on his Instagram page (@mikecanrun). And if you’d like to throw your support behind his efforts, and support the incredible work that Bella’s Bumbas is doing, check out Mike’s GoFundMe page.

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(posted 8/9/2022)

Bygone blog — my diaper bag theory of motherhood

7 Aug

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 14 years.

I was reminded of this particular blog when I happened across a new mother at a park recently. It was originally published on March 29, 2009.

Diaper bag theory of motherhood

Have you ever noticed how you can tell how many babies a mother has had by the size of her diaper bag?
Here’s my theory:

First baby:

Diaper bag rivals the suitcase you would pack for a week’s trip to Europe. It contains:

  • changing pad
  • at least a half dozen diapers
  • baby wipes
  • baby oil
  • baby powder
  • four extra Binkies (in case the one currently in use falls to the ground, a second in case the first backup falls to the ground, and two more … just in case)
  • two bottles of formula
  • three burp cloths
  • two changes of clothes
  • at least three rattles or other kind of highly educational and stimulating toys
  • blanket
  • band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • Children’s Tylenol

(And if you’re planning to be out for more than an hour, double everything.)

Second baby:

Diaper bag is about the size of an insulated lunch box. Inside is stuffed:

  • a couple of diapers
  • diaper wipes
  • burp cloth
  • spare Onesie
  • one extra Binkie (if you remember)
  • a bottle of formula or water
  • rattle

Third baby:

No bag necesary. You stuff a diaper into your back pocket and you’re all set.

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(posted 8/7/2022)

A bit of history about the History Bit

5 Aug

My regular blog readers are familiar with the monthly “Bit of Webster History” features, courtesy the Webster Museum, which I will often post.

In recent months, topics have run the gamut from famous people (like Merton Lewis and Esther Dunn) and monsters at the museum to the history of Ridge Rd. and the Forest Lawn neighborhood. I even saw one from a while ago about hanging laundry.

For the last six years, these fascinating historical nuggets have been researched and written by Webster Museum volunteer Kathy Taddeo, who this month has put the spotlight on the Bits themselves.

She wrote,

“(The) March 4, 1938 edition of the Webster Herald was one of the first issues to carry the column we now know as ‘A Bit of Webster History.’ This means the column has been part of the Herald for 84 of its 123 years, written by historians and museum volunteers for the enjoyment of Herald readers.”

Here’s a look at the column from that day, from New York Historic Newspapers:

Kathy’s a great writer and I’ve always enjoyed seeing what little historical surprises she manages to dig up. But after six years, Kathy has decided to hand the Bit of Webster History reins to someone else, who will take over beginning next month and continue the long tradition.

So let’s all have a round of applause for Kathy’s great work, and stay tuned in the next several weeks to see who’ll be trying to fill her very capable shoes. (Some of you might be able to guess who that will be.)

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(posted 8/5/2022)