Archive | March, 2017

Classic children’s story, Goodnight Moon, comes alive at the JCC

31 Mar


TYKEs (Theatre Young Kids Enjoy) will present the musical Goodnight Moon live at the JCC Hart Theatre, 1200 Edgewood Avenue in Brighton from April 1 to 9. The show is based on the cherished story of Bunny’s imaginative detours on the way to slumber “in the great green room.” Goodnight Moon is recommended for boys and girls ages three and up.

IMG_5576The classic bedtime story bursts to life on stage as Bunny and his friend Mouse go on an imaginative tour of the Great Green Room, visited by a host of exuberant characters including the tooth fairy, singing bears playing musical chairs, the dish that ran away with the spoon, and a perseverant cow attempting to successfully jump over the moon. The lively musical also incorporates elements from The Runaway Bunny, another Brown favorite.

During the course of the hour-long production, the paintings and other objects in the Great Green Room actually come alive. “It’s a very unique approach to theatre,” describes TYKEs’ co-founder and director Freyda Schneider. “Scenic elements transform before your eyes from simple stationary objects to vibrant living beings. It’s quite a clever technique for bringing a story — literally — alive on stage!”

Show times are Saturday, April 1 and 8 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, April 9 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. {4:30 p.m. show is ASL-interpreted}.

Tickets are $16 ($15 for JCC members). Subscriptions, school shows and group sales are offered at discounted rates. Show information and ticket sales are available online at For more information or to order tickets by phone, call the JCC at 585-461-2000.

If you’ve read this far, you’re clearly interested in attending, and probably wondering why this has shown up in my all-about-Webster-and-pretty-much-only-Webster blog. Well, I’m helping out some good neighbors.

The JCC an important community institution which has suffered some difficulties recently, resulting in lower-than-normal ticket sales. They reached out to me for extra support for this event.

I’m hoping that our Rochester community can show how much we love our JCC neighbors, and join them for a great story in the great green room.

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Baby Bella inspires Webster couple to build mini wheelchairs

30 Mar

(This is a re-posting of the East Extra column I wrote for this morning’s Democrat and Chronicle. It’s a nice little story out of Webster.) 

Marty and Bella

Marty Parzynski helps his niece Bella into her brand new Bella’s Bumba chair last July. It took Bella only a week or two to learn how to maneuver it by herself.

Thanks to the efforts of a Webster couple, lots of young children with disabilities are enjoying newfound mobility.

For the last year, Rebecca Orr and her husband, Marty Parzynski, have been building miniature “Bella’s Bumba” wheelchairs for children throughout the country who suffer from spina bifida, a congenital defect in which part of the spinal cord is exposed through a gap in the backbone. The condition commonly causes paralysis of the lower limbs.

Their passion to help was sparked when their niece Bella was born in July 2015. When she and her siblings came for a visit last summer from their Buffalo home, Rebecca and Marty were troubled by Bella’s inability to move around and interact with other children.

“We were having to pick her up and put her around the yard so she could be with other kids,” Rebecca said. They would even have to turn and face her toward anyone talking to her.

“She was captured in her body,” Marty added.

For children as young as Bella, mobility options are limited. Insurance doesn’t pay for wheelchairs for children younger than 4 because they outgrow them so fast. Commercial versions of the Bumba chair, called a ZipZac, can cost more than $1,000. That’s a huge burden for families already dealing with significant medical bills.

Then Rebecca and Marty saw a pin on Pinterest showing how to make their own, and Marty got to work. Using a commercially available “Bumbo” infant seat, two 12-inch tires from a child’s bicycle and some spare parts, in no time he had built the very first “Bella’s Bumba.”

It took a few weeks for Bella to get the hang of it, but before long, the child was using her miniature wheelchair to navigate around their home or a playground safely all by herself, grinning from ear to ear the whole time. She was finally mobile.

“The chair made a huge difference in her life,” Bella’s father, Jeffrey Shorr, said. “Having the chair allowed us to take her outside, and she could interact with others rather than our holding her or sitting her in a chair.”

Once Marty and Rebecca saw the difference the chair made in their niece’s life, they started sharing Bella’s successes through their personal Facebook page, and then on a spina bifida parents group page.

“You see those families, how they’re struggling … looking for used items for their children to gain mobility,” Rebecca said. “They’re stuck in strollers (and) they’re stuck wherever you sit them. … I thought, ‘I want to get this away from our personal page and get it onto its own page.’”

Rebecca and Bella

Just a week after getting her new Bella’s Bumba in July 2016, one-year old Bella Shorr tries it out at a spray park in Webster, with help from her aunt Rebecca Orr.

They set up a Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page, and word started to spread. So far they’ve made and shipped five of the specialty chairs all around the country, and have pending orders for 22 more.

Their efforts are changing lives of young children, and their parents, in countless ways. Helping a non-mobile child become mobile is just the beginning.

Now that she has her Bella’s Bumba chair, Jeff said that his daughter is much happier in general. But her coordination and upper body strength have also improved significantly, which helped her learn to crawl and, very soon, use a walker.

Basically, her Bella’s Bumba has “brought progress to something that seemed like progress would never happen,” Jeff said.

“She’s one of the kids now,” Rebecca added.

For more information, to donate or to request your own Bella’s Bumba, connect with Bella’s Bumbas on Facebook or email

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Mailbag addendum

29 Mar

I received this email just yesterday, and since this is happening this weekend, I wanted to make sure to pass it along.

A large group of students and adults, including many from Webster, will be traveling to Costa Rica this summer to conduct several outreach projects, from cleaning up beaches to planting trees.

This Saturday the group will be holding a huge garage sale as a fundraiser to help offset travel expenses and some of their projects.

The sale will take place on Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to  4 p.m., at the Living Word Assembly of God Church, 2344 Ridge Road, Ontario. There will be antiques, home furnishings, clothing, toys, Legos, and much more.

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And now just a side note …

When I finally got to share my 2016 Tour de Parks experience with the Adirondack Club a few weeks ago, I had so much fun that I decided I want to do it again. And again.

So I’m taking the show on the road. In May and June I’ll be speaking at the Pittsford, Webster and Brighton libraries. So if the win storm and snow storm scared you away from the Adirondack meeting, you still have a chance (or three) to hear all about my adventures to visit 100 of Rochester’s east-side parks.

More details about dates and times to come.

(And many thanks to Gail Schott for getting me thinking about this idea.)

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Tuesday Webster Mailbag

28 Mar

There are a couple of great community events coming up I want to let you know about.

This Friday March 31, Webster Boy Scout Troop 942 will be holding a Fish Fry Dinner Fundraiser at the American Legion Post 492 on Ridge Road, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., or until the dinners run out (and that usually happens).

Cost is $12 and the dinner includes a choice of broiled or beer battered-fried fish with a side of roasted potatoes and coleslaw. Dinners may be ordered for dine in or take out.

There’s also great entertainment at these dinners! Local folk/pop duo Doctor’s Orders will be playing from 5:30 to 7. They make a great dinner even better.

doctor's orders

Doctor’s Orders, starring Webster residents Dave and Patty Wyble. 

Webster Thomas presents Aida next weekend


Don’t forget about next weekend’s production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, presented by the Webster Thomas Players.

Here’s the synopsis:

At the Nile’s edge, the enslaved Nubian princess, Aida becomes romantically entangled shirt expandedwith the Egyptian captain, Radames, who is betrothed to the Pharaoh’s daughter, Amneris. As their forbidden love grows deeper, Aida is forced to find balance between her heart’s yearning for Radames, and her responsibility to lead her people.

Based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi, Elton John and Time Rice’s Aida is a timeless love story, featuring an award-winning pop/rock score from the seasoned pop duo who brought musical life to Disney’s The Lion King. Rousing rock numbers and heart-wrenching ballads bring the ill-fated lovers into a new era.

The show will be presented in four performances, at 7:30 p.m. April 6, 7 and 8, and a 2 p.m. matinee on April 8.

Tickets are $12, available at Hegedorn’s Market, 964 Ridge Road and online at

JACK Foundation holds fundraiser 

The JACK Foundation will host a Spring Vendor Blender fundraiser on Saturday April 29 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Webster Parks and Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive.

The craft and direct vendor sale will benefit the JACK Foundation’s efforts to build dinosaur-themed playgrounds in memory of 3-year old Jack Heiligman, who lost his life in a tragic accident last October.

The event will include raffle items, children’s entertainment (face painting, balloon animals and more) and more than 25 vendors selling a variety of different items. Some of the vendors include:

Posh, Tupperware, Norwex, Usbourne books,Touchstone Jewelry, Rolden Fields, Gold Canyon, Lularoe, Kannaway, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, The Best You Spa, It Works, Young Living, Thirty One, Yonique, Lip Sense, Mary Kay, Silpada, L’Brie, Scentsy, and a variety of different crafters.

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Community Arts Day seeks talent

26 Mar
comm arts day

Webster’s Community Arts Day is a celebration of our district’s talented students.

Your kids got talent? Encourage them to strut their stuff at the next Community Arts Day, Saturday April 8 at Webster Schroeder High School.

More to come about Community Arts Day itself, but for now let’s talk about the “Webster’s Got Talent” talent show, which is always a big draw.

It’s scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. on Community Arts Day, and singers, dancers and musicians are all encouraged to participate. All you have to do is register by visiting, then start getting your act ready. Plan to arrive by 1:45 p.m. to review the performance line-up schedule.

If you’ve never been to Community Arts Day, make sure to put this annual family-friendly event on your calendar right now.

The event celebrates the many artistic and musically talented students in our schools. Samples of artwork from every school in the district will be on display, and entertainment by dance troupes, martial arts schools, music groups and more are scheduled throughout the day. The entire first floor of the school is packed with performers, artwork, and community displays. There’s a children’s area with crafts, baked goods and refreshments, and plenty more for kids to do.

Admission to Community Arts Day is free. Proceeds from food, craft, and kids’ activities will benefit cultural arts programs within the Webster Central School District.  For more information, visit the Community Arts Day website.

Community Arts Day will be held Saturday April 8 at Webster Schroeder high School, 875 Ridge Road, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Woman’s Club of Rochester announces annual luncheon

25 Mar


When food and fashion get together, it’s usually a good time. And when they get together for a special event sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Rochester, it’s extra special.

The Woman’s Club of Rochester is having its annual Fashion Show/Luncheon fundraiser on Tuesday, April 25, at Midvale Country Club, on Baird Road in Penfield.

The cash bar opens at 11:30 a.m., the luncheon starts at noon and the fashion show hits the runway at 1 p.m. The luncheon menu features Haddock French, Chicken Marsala or Vegetable Napoleon, and all choices include coffee, tea and a Chocolate raspberry torte for dessert. This year’s fashions will be presented by Chico’s.

The event will also include a silent auction, raffle and door prizes.

Cost is $25. Proceeds from this annual fundraiser will benefit the House of Mercy. Please RSVP by April 18 to Carol Carrigan, 530 Corwin Road, Rochester, NY 14610

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Middle schools give back to our community

24 Mar
Spry Student Council

Principal James Baehr and members of the Spry Middle School Student Council present a check to AutismUp. (Provided photo)

As you all know, I love using this blog to highlight the great things our kids do for our community. Here is another excellent example.

Willink and Spry middle schools host an annual charity basketball game each spring, at which student and staff teams challenge each other in several friendly — if not exactly competitive — games. The event always benefits two local charities, one chosen by each school’s student council.

This year’s event was held on March 3, and once again it was spectacularly successful. A few days ago, representatives from Willink and Spry presented checks totaling about $2900 each to their chosen charities: the Veterans Outreach Center and AutismUp.

On March 20, Willink Student Council officers Daniel Card, Ben Welch, Megan VanWie, and Greyson McDonnell visited the Veterans Outreach Center to present their share of the money raised from the charity game. The Veterans Outreach Center provides comprehensive resources to current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families through direct service, community collaboration, and advocacy.

Two days later, Spry Middle School Student Council officers Miles Curry, Hannah Tischner, Haley Bolton, Antonia Ciccarelli, Sophia Veltri, Sierra Doody, and Jillian Alexander welcomed a representative from AutsimUp to present her with a check. AutismUp supports individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and their families, by expanding and enhancing opportunities to improve quality of life.

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Willink Student Council

Representatives from the Willink Middle School Student Council present a check to the Veterans Outreach Center. (Provided photo) Enter a caption

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Carolyn Montanaro named Webster Chamber Business Person of the Year

23 Mar

Carolyn Montanaro of Neubert Financial Services accepts the Webster Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business Person of the Year award from Chamber Board Chair Joe Vitello. (Provided photo) 

Note: I misspelled Carolyn’s name in an earlier version of this blog. Sorry!

Congratulations to Carolyn Montanaro, from Neubert Financial Services, who was recently named 2017 Business Person of the Year by the Webster Chamber of Commerce.

The announcement was made at the Chamber’s monthly breakfast meeting, and was presented by Barry Howard, President/CEO of the Webster Chamber of Commerce and Joe Vitello, Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors.

The press release I received from the Chamber gave several reasons for Montanaro’s selection:

This year’s honoree is a ‘behind the scenes’ force in her company’s success, a mother, a philanthropist with human and financial resources, an active Chamber committee chair, a daughter and a wife who not only talks about the importance of family, church, school and community, she lives it every day.

She is a committed chamber member whose involvement has furthered the Chamber’s mission and its ongoing successes in the Webster community.

Carolyn and Neubert Financial Services have been very active in the Chamber since they became members more than a decade ago. As the company’s Director of Administration when her Dad formed the company in 2005, Carolyn has been a quiet influence that has helped the company grow and has helped the Chamber grow as well.

Mrs. Montanaro has been on the Membership Services Committee for many years and is currently serving as co-chair of that committee. Her passion about the Chamber is real and she never misses a chance to remind Chamber members that participation in the Chamber via committee work and attending events and breakfast has helped their business grow and has forged lifelong relationships with fellow Chamber members.

The “Business Person of the Year” is someone recognized as having set a standard of accomplishment in both business and the community. Nominations are from the Chamber’s business members who have made a significant impact on the role of business in the community. The nominee must be a member of the Chamber for at least 18 months; must be an active member who is always willing to go above and beyond, a leader that motivates others; and they must have a level of community participation by contributing resources in the form of time, talent, money, etc. to the community via projects, clubs, churches, and not-for-profits.

The Webster Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Person of the Year honor is awarded to someone recognized as having set a standard of accomplishment in both business and the community.  The Chamber Board of Directors received several nominations this year in addition to Montanaro.

Montanaro was presented an engraved plaque which read, “2017 Business Person of the Year presented to Carolyn Montanaro in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Chamber and your commitment to the Webster community.”

Neubert Financial Services is located at 599 Ridge Road in Webster.

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I need photos!

20 Mar

A stunning view of Webster Park by Joe Altieri.

If you follow my Webster Blog Facebook page, you’ll see that I regularly change the photo at the top of the page. Usually the photo goes with my most recent blog post, but sometimes I just don’t have anything interesting to put up there.

So this is where you all come in.

I would love to have a collection of great photos representing our great town, which I could tap into when I need a cover shot. Your photos could be a stunning landscape, like the one above by Joe Altieri, or perhaps just a shot of your kids sitting watching a sunset at Sandbar Park.

I made this request a few years ago for exactly the same reason, and received some wonderful photos. But I have long since run out and need to re-stock.

Of course, when I use your photo, I’ll be sure to give you credit. So please go through your images, or get out there and start snapping. Then send your favorites to me at Please be sure to include information about who is in the photo (if necessary) and where you took it.

Thank you!

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An invitation to my Tour de Parks presentation — AGAIN

19 Mar


Some of you have been following the trials and tribulations of the presentation I’m planning to make for the Adirondack Club about my Tour de Parks adventure.

Basically it was originally scheduled for Wednesday March 8. Then we had the windstorm. It was rescheduled for the following Tuesday. Then we had a snowstorm. So it was rescheduled AGAIN for this coming Tuesday March 21.

Barring another natural calamity, third time should be the charm.

So I would like to invite everyone again to attend the free presentation. To tell you more about it, here’s (most of) the original invitation blog I posted a few weeks ago.

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Remember how I went out and explored 100 parks last year? I called it my 2016 Tour de Parks Challenge, and it pretty much consumed my life. I wrote about it several times in my East Extra column (the most recent one is here) and probably touched on it a few times here in my blog as well.

Well, you’re going to have to hear about it one more time.

Shortly after I began my quest last year, I realized exactly how much of a challenge I had shouldered. I actually considered letting it fade off unnoticed. But then I got an email from the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, inviting me to be the featured speaker at one of their meetings.

I was stuck.

That meeting has finally arrived, and I would like to invite all of my readers to attend, if you’re at all interested in hearing about my adventures.

The event takes place on Tuesday March 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Eisenhart Auditorium of the Rochester Museum and Science Center, 657 East Ave.

It should be interesting, I hope. I’m working up a fancy-pants display board with pins showing all the parks I visited, and a PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of the funny, surprising, beautiful and disappointing things I saw and learned. And yes, I’ll even tell everyone which one was my favorite. Sort of. The whole shebang should only be about 45 minutes.

Please join me. There’s no admission charge. Maybe you could grab dinner beforehand and make it a night out.

And if you’d like to read up on all the parks I visited, here’s a link to the 2016 Tour de Parks blog I maintained through it all.

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