Archive | October, 2022

Pumpkin Parade a spooky success

30 Oct

For months now, every since the Webster Parks and Recreation folks started promoting this year’s Pumpkins on Parade, they promised that the third annual event would be better than ever before. Well, I stopped by for about an hour to check it out, and I have to say this:

They weren’t lying.

Pumpkins on Parade took place at the Webster Recreation Center on Saturday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. If you missed the festivities, you missed one of the most enjoyable events of Webster’s Halloween season. About 700 creatively carved, illuminated jack-o-lanterns were placed along the entire one-mile long Chiyoda Trail that wraps around the back of the Rec Center, and a shorter path set up especially for toddlers and seniors. Several places on the main trail were also illuminated with strings of multi-colored lights, and a number of spooky ghosts hung from the trees.

The trails themselves weren’t too different from previous years; the wide variety of jack-o-lanterns was delightful and in several places stopped a lot of people in their tracks. It was fun listening to the little kids “oooh” and “ahhh” at every new design and point out cats or spiders, or characters they recognized from their favorite shows.

But it was the slew of new activities at the end of the trail that really made this year’s Pumpkins on Parade the best ever. In addition to the free cider and donuts for everyone (offered every year), the Rec Center folks added a whole bunch of new family activities: a hay bale maze for the little kids, a rolly-slide, a dedicated children’s activities tent, a “photo booth” and a huge bonfire.

It was an extremely well-run event, to boot. Plans for parking the hundreds of cars were clearly well thought out in advance, and took good advantage of the two parking lots across Chiyoda Drive from the Rec Center (complete with life-sized traffic cones directing cars). Upbeat music got kids and adults dancing as they walked up the long driveway, even before they reached the path’s entrance. The post-walk activities were spaced all across the big fields behind the Rec Center, leaving plenty of room for kids to run around and chase each other. There were a few thousand people milling around among the activities, but it never felt crowded or annoying.

It was basically a big Halloween-themed festival that had something for everyone to do — moms, dads, kids and grandparents alike.

Thank you to the Webster Recreation Department for a wonderful event. But thanks also to the Webster community. It’s only with your amazing support that this event could happen.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Chris Bilow called participation from the community “unbelievable.” He was particularly amazed by how many people actually purchased their own pumpkins, even though the Rec Center offered to provide them. Six businesses stepped forward to carve, and Spry Middle School alone carved 70 pumpkins.

As I left the event, I told Bilow that there was only one thing wrong with this year’s Pumpkins on Parade: it was so awesome, there’s really no way they can make it better next year. He looked at me with a little grin and replied, “Oh, I got a few more ideas up my sleeve.”

Guess we’re going to have to wait until next year to find out what they are.

Click here for a full gallery of photos from the evening.

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(posted 10/30/2022)

Photos from the Trick-or-Treat Trail

30 Oct

What a spectacular day it was yesterday for the Village of Webster’s annual Trick-or-Treat Trail! So many children and their adults came to town for the event that I do believe business owners were a bit overwhelmed, some of them running out of candy pretty early.

I tried to make three or four rounds of the streets and take pictures of many of the outstanding costumes. Sorry if I didn’t see you and your kids, but please feel free to send along your photos and I can add them to the gallery.

Email them to me at

I’ve posted a few photos here, but click here to see my whole gallery.

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(posted 10/30/2022)

More “boo”tiful Halloween houses

28 Oct

Today I post the third and final installment of my Halloween Houses series. Enjoy these decorative bits and pieces from around the town!

I can’t remember where most of these photos came from, except for these first three, which Alicia S. sent to me. Her beautifully decorated home is at the corner of Wood Meadow and Deer Haven Drive. She wrote that her neighbors know it as the “Halloween House,” and every year they dress up, add fog and music, and try to debut new items every year.

They call their creation “Witches Hollow.”  

This one, the skeleton pole dancer, made me laugh.

These two are from the village:

Happy Halloween everyone. Let’s hope for good weather.

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(posted 10/27/2022)

Webster lacrosse star inducted into Hall of Fame

27 Oct

Fans of Webster lacrosse will be interested in this press release I recently received:

On Saturday, November 5, Dr. Steve Cochi, star of Webster’s 1969 Upstate New York high school lacrosse champion team, will be inducted into the Greater Rochester Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Leading point-getter for the ’69 Ridgemen, Steve scored six of the team’s seven goals including the fourth overtime winner as Coach Bill Guerrera’s crew topped Fayetteville-Manlius to win the championship of the Upstate Lacrosse Conference.

Steve went on to lacrosse All-American honors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a highly accomplished career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Steve’s inclusion at the celebratory banquet for inductees in the 2022 Greater Rochester Hall of Fame class will mark the fourth selection of a Webster lacrosser in the last five induction groups: Bob Menz in ’21, Dick Baran in ’18, and Patrick Dutton in ’17. Dr. Cochi will be the ninth member of Webster’s 58-year-old lacrosse community to join the ranks of local Hall of Famers.

As in the past, there will be an enthusiastic turnout of Webster lacrosse folks to honor Dr. Cochi and highlight the community’s support of The Creator’s Game. Some of Steve’s teammates are planning a gathering ahead of the banquet and induction. To find out more, email

For specific information about the induction and banquet or to indicate an interest in joining a Webster table, email or check the Greater Rochester Area USA Lacrosse Chapter website.

The banquet will be held on Saturday Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Harro East Ballroom. Tickets for the banquet are $75, Children 10 and under $15, 5 and under free. Click here to order.

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(posted 10/27/2022)

New Horizons band performs a free community concert this weekend

26 Oct

A concert this weekend at Willink Middle School features a band that has a rather unusual story.

The aptly-named New Horizons combined concert and symphonic band, which will perform Saturday Oct. 29 at 4 p.m., is part of an Eastman Community Music School program which provides musical experiences for adults, regardless of experience level. Its bands are open to any adult who wants to play an instrument, even if they’ve never played an instrument before.

These brand-new, “green” musicians, who learn from the ground up from band directors, mentors and private instructors, are joined by more experienced musicians, many of whom are returning to performing after many years. New members don’t even have to audition to join the band, because you don’t have to know how to play; anyone of any experience level is welcome.

The concept has changed little since 1991, when Roy Ernst, a professor at Eastman, came up with the idea to form a band for senior citizens.

His original ad, which ran in the Democrat and Chronicle, looked like this:

The first rehearsal was held at the Cutler Union, now part of the Memorial Art Gallery. The 30 or so musicians who showed up included several who had played years before, and some who had never played. In a historical piece she wrote for the New Horizons website, original band member Dana Johnson said there were “plenty of clarinets, flutes, saxes and trumpets but no trombones or low brass.” Barry Rabson, another original member, recalled, “It was fun, but the music was terrible!”

Nevertheless, the band rehearsed faithfully and presented their first concert in December of that year. Dana wrote, “There were about 35 band members and 40 in the audience, mostly relatives of band members.” The following year, the band continued to spread their wings, performing at schools, St. Mary’s Hospital, the Rochester Convention Center, and on a float in the Lilac Festival Parade.

In 2021, the New Horizons Program celebrated its 60th anniversary. A few things have changed in that time. Membership, for example, has grown from the original 35 to about 340. The band, while open to any adult, is still composed primarily of seniors, mostly because rehearsals are held during the day. The original, single band program has expanded to offer 17 smaller ensembles, including beginning, intermediate and advanced bands, a Big Band, beginning strings, full and string orchestras, a chorus and several chamber ensembles.

One main thing, however, hasn’t changed: New Horizons is and has always been a welcoming community of beginner and experienced musicians who simply love making music and make new friends in a non-competitive, collaborative and supportive environment. It’s an idea that’s been so well received that the program has spread to more than 200 other programs across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

About 80 of these talented, passionate musicians (including some of the newbies) will perform in the weekend’s New Horizon Band Fall Concert, Saturday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. at Willink Middle School, 900 Publisher’s Parkway in Webster. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Click here to read more about Rochester New Horizons and find out how you can get involved.

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(posted 10/26/2022)

Enjoying a gorgeous autumn afternoon

25 Oct

I cannot recall, in recent memory, when we’ve had a more beautiful autumn. The colors are outstanding, the warm temperatures downright delightful, and the stretch of sunny weather has been unbelievable.

I was out and about Tuesday afternoon running some errands, when I decided on the spur of the moment that I needed to do SOMETHING to take advantage of the gorgeous … well, gorgeous everything. So as soon as I got home I dragged my husband to Four Mile Creek Preserve to take a short hike.

Four Mile Creek is probably my favorite Webster hiking trail. It’s flat and just the right length, and even though all of our trails are incredible at this time of year, the Four Mile Creek trails are especially incredible.

I was also inspired by upcoming Cars Along the Creek hike taking place there Saturday morning. This is a very interesting trek hosted by the Friends of Webster Trails, where trail steward Dennis Kuhn will lead participants in a two-hour hike and point out six abandoned cars which hikers can see along the trails. (Click here to read more about this weekend’s hike.)

I can’t make Saturday’s hike, unfortunately, so I figured I could revisit some of those cars myself while we were hiking.

The trails were just as spectacular as I expected, and I couldn’t resist taking a lot of photos. I also saw three of the six cars those lucky hikers will see on Saturday, and I checked out the bridge the young daredevils must have used to drive them onto the property 60 years ago.

Enjoy some photos from the afternoon, and consider taking in some of this beauty, and history, for yourself this weekend at the Friends of Webster Trails Cars Along the Creek Hike, 10 a.m. Saturday morning at Four Mile Creek Preserve, corner of Phillips and Lake roads.

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(posted 10/25/2022)

REALLY busy weekend coming up

24 Oct

Usually it’s during the summer months that the special events pile up so fast I can barely mention them all. But summer’s got nothing on this coming weekend.

Things start off on Friday evening, Oct. 28, with a Community Food Truck Rodeo to benefit the Webster Montessori School. As you can see on the poster here, the trucks that you’ll find include Pop Up & Eats, Waffles R Wild, Al Dente Mobile Pasta, Marty’s Meats and Kona Ice.

The rodeo takes place at the school, 1310 Five Mile Line Rd. (next door to Bauman’s Farm Market) from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.

It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful autumn day on Saturday, Oct. 29 for these next few events:

At 10 a.m., The Friends of Webster Trails is hosting a Cars Along the Creek Hike at Four Mile Creek Preserve, at the corner of Phillips and Lake roads.

The two-hour guided hike will introduce participants to the many abandoned cars you can see along the preserve’s trails. Apparently the land on which the preserve is now located was once used by the local youth as a makeshift racetrack in the early 1960s. Among the cars you’ll see are:

* 1951 Chevrolet Styleine Deluxe Bel Air
* 1961 Ford 500 Galaxy Club Victoria
* 1959 Nash Rambler
* 1959 Chevy Bel Air
* 1954 Plymouth Belvedere Suburban
* 1949 Green Nash Airflyte

The hike is free, and begins at the parking lot on Phillips Rd.

One of the Village of Webster’s most popuar events, Halloween in the Village, returns this Saturday, beginning with a costume contest from 11 a.m. to noon at Village Hall.

The Trick-or-Treat Trail begins at 11:30 a.m., where children can stroll the village streets and trick-or-treat at dozens of village businesses. Look for the orange pumpkins in storefront windows to see which businesses are participating.

The Festival Wagon will be taking riders along Main Street, and don’t forget to get your pet involved in the fun; the Pet Costume Contest, complete with prizes, takes place on Main St. at 1 p.m. (Click here for a recap of last year’s Trick or Treat Trail, including lots of photos.)

While you’re in town for the Halloween festival, make sure to stop by the Webster Volunteer Fire Department during their open house. They’ll have candy, of course, but this is also a great opportunity for your kids to visit with real firefighters, climb into a fire truck, see some demonstrations, and get a fire hat.

The Fire Department is at 35 South Ave. Just look for the big red trucks in the driveway.

ALSO on Saturday during Halloween in the Village, take the short stroll down to 18 Lapham Park and stop into the Webster Museum. They’ve put together a scavenger hunt and a contest, and have some Halloween treats for everyone. Plus, there will be plenty of helpers there to give you a tour through the museum if you’d like one.

Then, after the village Halloween, how about taking in some great music at the New Horizons Combined Band Concert at Willink Middle School.

New Horizons is a really cool band which welcomes all adults, even those with no musical experience. These enthusiastic concert and symphonic band musicians will be performing their fall, combined concert at Willink, on Publisher’s Parkway, beginning at 4 p.m.

There’s no charge. Check back here in a day or two for a more complete blog about this great organization.

And here’s your Saturday evening entertainment:

The Webster Recreation Center’s Pumpkins on Parade is Saturday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

This is a very fun, family-friendly event where young and old can take a leisurely walk along the Chiyoda Trail behind the Rec Center and view hundreds of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns. At the end of the trail, there’ll be music, a kids’ slide, a mini hay maze, a bonfire, free cider and donuts, a family photo area and kids’ activities. Plus, professional pumpkin carver Eric Jones, t

The festival is totally free. The Webster Recreation Center is on Chiyoda Drive, off of Phillips. Click here to read more about this great event.

…and if you get to all of these events on Friday and Saturday, plan on sleeping late on Sunday. You’ll need the rest.


If you need to work off some of that candy and good food, the Webster Parks and Recreation Department has got you covered.

They’re hosting their third annual Halloween-themed fitness class sampler on Sunday from 9 to 10:30 a.m., which is absolutely free and open to the community. This year’s theme is disco, and the instructors will be handing out funky glasses and disco ball necklaces until supplies run out.

Check the schedule below for details.

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(posted 10/24/2022)

Even Santa has a favorite garage sale

23 Oct

Bazaars and craft fairs abound at this time of year, hosted by churches and community centers all around our area. But this one, which I found out about just recently, is different; it’s not just a chance to buy gifts for others, but it’s especially good opportunity to pick up some holiday items for your own home.

And it is Santa-approved.

The second annual Santa’s Garage Sale, hosted by St. Martin Lutheran Church, will take place this year November 3 to 5. I heard about if from my friend “Santa Jim” Lockwood, a St. Martin parishioner and all-around good guy. (You know him from the frequent appearances he makes in Webster during the holidays, including at White Christmas in the Village.)

Jim sent me a nice long email explaining how this event came to be. He wrote,

It started as light conversation about this time of the year. We were discussing how Christmas was just around the corner and all the stores are putting their Christmas decorations out on display.

A few of us at St. Martin had to admit to having quite a large collection of older Christmas decorations, ornaments, lights, etc. even a few artificial Christmas trees that were tucked away. We also had to admit we didn’t use these decorations anymore as we now have newer ones. These Christmas decorations are usually stored away in attics, basements, closets etc. They always take up valuable storage space and haven’t seen daylight in years.

That’s when we decided to have a holiday-type garage sale and bring a few of our treasured items that we could part with to the sale table. The idea was that hopefully someone else could these long-forgotten decorations and love them as we did.

We did a little bit of online advertising about our sale and asked for donations of Christmas items that the community was willing to part with. We even called it “Santa’s Garage Sale.” The response from the Webster community was overwhelming both in their donations of beautiful treasured decorations and in their attendance and purchase of new / different Christmas items for their homes.

Santa even had a chance to check out the holiday sale and definitely recommends it.

I also heard from Mary Lou, one of the other organizers, who wrote,

To me,  the best thing about this sale is giving people a chance to celebrate Christmas without having to spend a lot of money. Given rising inflation,  I think even more people will find their finances very tight this Christmas. It is a joy to watch parents able to shop for their kids and have a great selection of toys to pick from.   

Last year we even had big wooden playsets, like kitchens and doll houses. Also,  we were fortunate to have several artificial Christmas trees, and they were probably our most popular item.

Donations for the sale will be gratefully accepted at the church, 813 Bay Rd., on Saturday Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a great chance to get rid of some of those older Christmas decorations you don’t use anymore. So check your attics, basements and other hidden spaces for items that can be enjoyed again by young and old. They’re also accepting Halloween and Thanksgiving items.

This year’s sale will take place at St. Martin Lutheran Church on Thursday and Friday Nov. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The church is located at 813 Bay Rd., Webster.

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(posted 10/23/2022)

When is a house just half a house?

22 Oct

You might have noticed the recent “Bit of Webster History” feature I wrote for the Webster Museum when it was published in the Webster Herald and the weekly Town newsletter. It told the story of two houses, which now sit across from one another on Corning Park in the Village of Webster, and how they used to be one house.

I heard the story from my friend Karen a few years ago and it has fascinated me ever since. I knew it was going to be one of my first History Bit features when I took over the reins a few months ago.

The story reads:

Anyone who’s ever walked or driven down Corning Park in the Village of Webster probably hasn’t noticed anything unusual about the houses on that peaceful little street. However, two of those houses, which stand across the street from one another, do have a curious history: in the early 1900s, they used to be one house. 

Around 1859, a spacious boarding house was built at 71 Corning Park, to serve students from the adjacent Webster Academy. The Academy and boarding house were discontinued in 1876 when the Union Free School was established, and for the next 50 years, 71 Corning Park remained a two-family dwelling. In 1928 it was purchased by Gordon Witmer and Amos Taylor, who divided it into two units. The larger portion remained at 71 Corning Park, and the smaller north wing was moved across the street to 76 Corning Park. 

Unfortunately, no photos of the original boarding house have ever been found, but the two, now separate residences, still stand across the street from each other on Corning Park. Additions and renovations have changed their appearance significantly from when they were one house in the early 1900s. But if you look carefully and use your imagination, maybe you can picture what they looked like together. 

For the sake of newsprint space, I try to keep these bits fairly short. But it was story that so intrigued me that I wanted to dive deeper into it for my blog. So several days ago sat down for coffee with Dave and Kathy Whitlock, longtime owners of 76 Corning Park, the smaller, former north wing of the house. They provided some interesting details I hadn’t come across in my earlier research.

Kathy first gave me a quick tour, explaining the many renovations and additions completed since they bought the home in 1965. I learned about the huge, 7-inch beam holding up the living room which still has bark on it, and how some of the original beams are charred, perhaps from a fire at the adjacent boarding house before the wing was moved. A few hand-wrought nails, found during a renovation, are displayed in a small shadowbox.

Dave and Kathy think they know why it was divided. When the two-family home was bought in 1928 by Gordon Witmer and Amos Taylor, Witmer — who was getting married — wanted a separate house for himself and his bride. So he divided it, moving the north wing directly across the street, so that the back of the house became the front, and the front the back. (Too bad no photos of that move have been found.) Witmer was going to move into that half, but as it turned out, the new, smaller, house sold first, so they moved into the larger half.

There’s a woman buried in the back yard of 76 Corning. The Williams family, who lived there decades ago, had a relative who would visit from England. At the time, the land was a huge apple orchard (The Corning Farm). The woman used to love sitting under an apple tree in the back yard and drinking beer, and asked to be buried there. The apple tree is gone, but her ashes are still there.

Dave also tells the story about how the man from whom they bought the house in 1965, a Mr. Jenkins, emphatically denied that it had once been connected to the house across the street. I would have thought that’d be a unique selling point for the property, but apparently he didn’t think so.

On a side note, I mentioned earlier that I heard about this story from my friend Karen. She remembers learning about the houses during a village tour her fourth grade class took decades ago. That tour has long been dropped from the elementary school curriculum, but maybe that decision should be reconsidered. After all, look at how much that little piece of Webster history interested that young person, and then me, and now you.

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(posted 10/22/2022)

Fifth graders reflect on race in library display

21 Oct

Talking about race issues and racism is uncomfortable for all of us. But recently, more than 30 Schlegel Elementary School students tackled that difficult subject, as part of an important project coordinated by the Webster Central School District and the Webster Public Library (WPL), in conjunction with the Gandhi Institute.

In June of 2021, students were shown a video in which Alex Hubbell from the Gandhi Institute introduced the topics of antiracism and inclusion, which also provided questions for educators to discuss with the classes. The students were then encouraged to think about those questions and write down their answers.

The resulting, thought-provoking exhibit, called “Kids Talk About Race,” is now on display through Saturday Oct. 29 at the Webster Public Library.

The project was a long time in the making. The idea first came to WPL Outreach Coordinator Jason Poole in February of 2021. He and Adult Services Librarian Jennifer Paxson worked together on a grant for the Harold Hacker Foundation to create a new curriculum for antiracism education in Webster’s elementary schools.

Because of Covid and schedule-related delays, progress on the grant was put on hold for several months. Then, last March, Schlegel Rd. Elementary School librarian Jamie Palmer hopped on board and enlisted the school’s three fifth-grade teachers, finally bringing the project to fruition by the end of the school year.

Jamie explained that she got involved because,

I felt it was important to have conversations with the fifth grade students, as it shouldn’t be a topic to shy away from. Kids have thoughts and questions and are trying to make sense of our world daily. If we ignore them and don’t just get them out on the table, they think it’s something bad and wrong to talk about instead of talking and working through their thoughts with each other.

And that really was the main impetus behind the project. The idea, Jason said, was to

facilitate these kinds of discussions (about race) happening during the school day. My belief is that kids should be learning about these things in an educational setting. They need to have a safe space where they can talk about it and figure out what they think. Not all the answers are neat and cut and dried. Some are puzzling.

After watching the video from the Gandhi Institute, the students were asked to reflect and write down their answers to these questions:

  • What did you know about race and racism before?
  • What do you know now?
  • Why is it hard to talk about race and racism?
  • Why is it important to do it anyway?
  • What do you plan on doing to make a difference in your community?

After the presentations, professional photographer Denise Batiste took portraits of the students (with parental permission) for the display.

The exhibit will be on display at the library through Oct. 29, after which it will be transported to the Central Library in downtown Rochester for display there (dates TBD).    

Presenting the exhibit to both the Webster and City of Rochester communities was an important part of the initial grant application. It’s being displayed here in Webster — a primarily white suburb — first, where people can see and talk about it. Then it goes downtown for people who aren’t in the suburbs. It hopefully demonstrates that “there’s at least some kind of effort being made to have these discussions,” Jason said.

If you’re able to check out the exhibit, take a close look at some of the things the kids have written. Clearly they were moved by what they learned. The fifth graders (now sixth graders) wrote some pretty insightful comments, and were inspired to make change. Take these answers, for example, to the question, “What do you plan on doing to make a difference in your community?”

  • I plan to tell others about how racism is wrong and how we are all equal and deserve to be treated the same as others. I plan to step in if someone is being discriminative.
  • I plan on telling my friends who didn’t do this activity why whatever you say can hurt anyone’s feelings. And I will tell them that your actions matter just as much as your words. I will also tell my family all of what I learned and how it inspired me.
  • What I plan on doing in my community is in my school. Anyone that has a different color I will include them. And if they are bullied I will make sure I will stand up for them. I will make them all feel equal and included.

There’s hope for this world yet.

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

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(posted 10/21/2022)