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Webster Thomas art student lends his expertise to City of Rochester mural project

30 Sep

A young Webster artist has helped transform a plain building in Rochester’s southwest neighborhood into a magnificent work of art.

For several days recently, Webster Thomas senior Martin Carey spent many volunteer hours helping Brazilian artist Eder Muñiz create a breathtaking mural on the Montgomery Neighborhood Center on Cady St., in Rochester’s Southwest neighborhood.

The mural, which measures an impressive 15 by 30 feet, depicts a fanciful scene with a lush garden, several creatures, and a huge woman’s face partially obscured by a gigantic blue swan. It took four days to complete, from Thursday Sept. 23 to Sunday Sept. 26.

Martin decribes the finished project as,

a beautiful mesh between all the parties involved. The urban ecologists who work in the garden in front of it (are represented) in the scenes that take up most of the left side of the mural, and the swan along the woman’s face represents SWAN, which works out of the building.

The woman is a singer from Salvador, Brazil.

The project was organized by the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association (SWAN), which calls the center home. SWAN’s director, Tiffany Owens, knew Martin from his volunteer work with the agency and arranged for him to join the project.

She wrote,

Martin’s father is an amazing partner to S.W.A.N and once he gained knowledge of the mural, he asked if Martin could participate, and we jumped at the opportunity to have him meet and work with the visiting artist.

Martin came every day and worked tirelessly. As young people from the neighborhood stopped by, he demonstrated extreme patience and care in answering their questions and joining in their excitement about the process.

Martin Carey is an amazing individual with a heart of gold.

It was clearly a life-changing experience for Martin. He said,

It was a great opportunity for me to be able to hang out with such an experienced artist and really be able to learn the different techniques he used, what he used, how he used them, and actually see and go through the process with him. It was awesome. And he’s such a great guy too, super nice to me the whole time…. He gave me proper stuff to do. 

Martin is currently studying AP Art with Webster Thomas art teacher Todd Stahl. He plans to continue his art studies after graduation and is looking at several colleges, including Flinders University in Australia. (“They have a good concept art program… (It) looks like a lot of fun and I would love to travel ouside of the states.”)  

And perhaps there are more murals in his future?

I definitely want to go on to do some murals of my own at some point and this has really inspired me to start to chase after that more. Before it was kind of like, “That would be cool but it doesn’t seem possible.” Then after this, I went “Oh, this is something that’s plausible, that could happen some day.” 

Next time you’re in the area, check out the mural. It’s on the west side of the building at 10 Cady St.

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Porches, fairies and whimsy make our village special

23 Sep

You may remember a blog I wrote a few weeks ago about all the gardens I pass by on my regular walks through the village. The flowering bushes and shrubs in manicured rows and gardens brighten my every morning.

But the gardens are not the only charming thing I see on my walks. There are so many other things I come across that make my heart smile and given me that warm “Wow, this is a really neat village” feeling. On the top of that list: porches.

In the older neighborhoods on the east side of the village in particular, I walk by dozens of beautiful, large porches, most of which stretch along the entire front of the house. Many of them are framed by stately Greek columns, have detailed ornamentation and fretwork, or are accentuated with flowers. At night they often take on a special brilliance, tastefully lit with twinkly lights.

The porches are not only magnificent to look at, but are neighborhood gathering places. When I take my evening walks, I often see neighbors sharing comfortable chairs and conversation with their after-dinner drinks, greeting everyone who walks by. Because they know, even if you live two or three streets over, you’re still a neighbor.

It’s a very village experience, kind of a Tom Sawyer, Hannibal, MO vibe.

Here are just a few photos of some of those beautiful and happy porches. Most of them are from Park Ave., Elm Street and Dunning Ave.

And did you know there are fairies in our neigborhoods?

The photo on the left is of an entire fairy village set up on Park Ave., near the intersection with Lapham. And if you walk up Dunning, you’ll pass a house which actually has fairy doors by two or three of its trees. Earlier this summer, I didn’t see any fairies there, but there are now … so the invitation must have worked.

Two more things I’d like to share. The first is a stand of sunflowers along the sidewalk on Phillips Rd. When I first showed them to you in my gardens blog, they weren’t as spectacular. But these days, they’ve grown so magnificent that it’s like walking through a sunflower tunnel.

The second is a sign which stands in front of a house on Elm St. It makes me giggle.

Happy walking, my friends, and keep your eyes open for these — and other — village charms alonmg the way.

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New veterans charity hosts open house for local heroes

15 Sep

Veterans, active-duty military, first responders and their families are invited to an open house this Saturday at Casey Park in Ontario to learn more about a brand new local organization, Heroes on the Water.  

Heroes on the Water, established in 2007, is a veterans charity which

creates alternative wellness programs to serve veterans, active-duty military personnel, first responders and their families. These experiential programs incorporate structured activities proven to improve the lives of these men and women. Each experience reduces the impact of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury while providing much-needed camaraderie and support. (from the Heroes on the Water website)

The primary therapy utilized by the program is kayak fishing, offered at free events hosted by more than 60 volunteer-led chapters around the country.

And THAT part — the kayak fishing part — is what reeled in Webster resident Tracy Holley. 

Holley, a technology and art teacher for the GOAL program at Webster Schroeder High School, has always enjoyed fishing. Last winter, when COVID was at its peak, he discovered kayak fishing and did a lot of it (there wasn’t much else to do, after all). Somewhere along the way he heard about Heroes on the Water. When he read about their mission to provide therapy for veterans and first responders through kayak fishing, he knew he wanted to get involved. 

When he called the national organization, however, he was surprised to learn there was no New York State chapter. He pondered that situation for just a few weeks before deciding to do something about it. 

“I’m not a veteran,” he said. “Never been a first responder. (But) I love kayak fishing. I know how peaceful and relaxing it is for me. It’s one little thing I thought I could give back to the folks that give so much to us.” 

“It’s one of the only veteran organizations that also directly supports the families of vets and first responders,” he added. “Being a schoolteacher, that’s very important to me.” 

After a few phone calls, he had recruited good friends Gordon Clarke, Ned Stromfeld and Justin Erdley for his administration team. Together, they established the Genesee Valley New York Chapter of Heroes on the Water, which was formerly chartered in March. 

This Saturday’s Open House is the Genesee Valley Chapter’s first big event. It’s kind of a “get-to-know-you” opportunity, Holley explained. Being brand new, the organization doesn’t have enough equipment yet to host a large-scale kayaking and fishing event for veterans and first responders. Instead, this will be a chance to meet the administrators, ask questions, grab some information and find out about volunteer opportunities. Holley will also have a few of his fishing kayaks there to try out, and volunteers will be on the water to offer support.

Fishing kayaks, by the way, are different from other kayaks in that you sit, or stand, on top of them. They’re more stable, easier to get in and out of, and easier to adapt for special needs.  

The open house will be held Saturday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Casey Park, 6551 Knickerbocker Rd., Ontario. Veterans, active-duty military, first responders and their families are all invited, as well as anyone who simply wants to learn more about volunteer opportunities.   

If you can’t make it to the event and would like to find out more about Heroes on the Water and the Genesee Valley Chapter, check out their Facebook page here. You can also email them at 

Interested in donating or volunteering? The new chapter is trying to raise $8,000 to purchase their first six fishing kayaks and all the equipment they need to hold larger events starting next spring. Click here to help out. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here.

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First Responders 5K welcomed back to the village

5 Sep

In-person racing came back to Webster on Friday night when the First Responders 5K returned to the village after a one-year, covid-induced hiatus.

More than 200 men, women and children of all ages wound their way through the 3.1-mile course that took runners from the Webster Firemen’s Field, through east-side village neighborhoods and back. And like anything else that happens in our village, it was another great example of the kind of caring, supportive community we have here.

It was a perfect late-summer night for a run; cool and sunny, much MUCH better than the humid days we’ve recently experienced. The race began at 6:30 p.m. on the south side of Firemen’s Field on Ebner Dr. There, under the Fleet Feet archway bearing the huge First Responders 5K banner, 227 runners and walkers of all shapes and sizes streamed across the start line when the order to “GOOOOOO!” was broadcast loudly through the speakers.

I was one of those runners, huffing and puffing alongside my good friend Dave Nicchitta, who kindly agreed (after much needling) to run the race with me. I had a lot of fun running with my friend, but even more than that, I was so proud to show off my village.

From the very beginning of the race and all through the neighborhoods, families were sitting in their front yards or standing along the road, clapping and cheering the runners, yelling encouraging comments and ringing cowbells. My husband and some friends set up a water and beer refreshment stand in the driveway, which was a popular stop near the end of the race.

And the volunteers? There were so many of them, one stationed at every intersection to guide the runners — and there were a lot of intersections and turns in those neighborhoods. Not to mention the Special Police, who managed the traffic along busy South Ave. during the race.

As I passed by one runner on the route, we chatted briefly and she told me how impressed she was with the route, how well the race was organized, and especially, how many volunteer race marshals there were. I simply told her, “Well, this is Webster.”

Thank you to everyone who helped make this race happen. For many of us, it was the first in-person race we’ve run in more than a year and a half. Thank you also to all those who participated. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the FRST Agency, a local charity that provides support, awareness, assets, and services to first responders seeking assistance in dealing with the effects of PTSD.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from the race which my husband and I took, and visit the Fleet Feet Rochester Facebook page to see a much bigger gallery of much better photos taken by Mary White (of Turkey Trot photography fame).

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New music festival will benefit ALS awareness

2 Sep

One thing I’ve learned about Webster in the years I’ve lived here is that when someone needs help, this community rallies around them, big time.

OK, make that TWO things: Webster loves its music.

Both of those truths will be on full display on Saturday, Sept. 11 at a brand new music festival called Webster Rocks for ALS Awareness. The event is being held in part to benefit Kacie Jones, a former Coach Sports Bar employee who was diagnosed with ALS two years ago.

The event website explains,

Kacie is a 30-year Rochester/Webster young man who has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). He is in a fight for his life; a day-to-day battle to do even the simplest of tasks that most of us take for granted. On Saturday, Sept 11, we will come together for Kacie and others struggling to live with and fight ALS. Let’s help Kacie and his family raise awareness for ALS, provide alternative treatments, and bring about a possible cure for this disease.

Funds raised will also benefit Healing ALS, an organization dedicated to supporting awareness, research and care for those suffering from ALS.

The festival will be held on Saturday Sept. 11 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Webster Firemen’s Field on Ridge Rd. Food trucks will be on hand from 3 to 8 p.m., and alcohol sales will be provided by the Coach Sports Bar.

An incredible music line-up starts at 3 p.m., featuring Anthony Blood and Brody Schenk, State Line, Brass Taxi, Dial Up, and M80s. (Check the website for more details about the schedule.)

Tickets are $20 in advance (available from the Coach Sports Bar, 19 W. Main in Webster) and Eventbrite (but they charge fees, so stop by the Coach to save money). They’re still looking for volunteers, too, so ask about that when you’re picking up your tickets.

To read more about Kacie and his brave battle with this disease, check out this great story posted on WHEC-TV in March.

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Do you know anyone in these photos?

31 Aug

I know, that really sounds like clickbait, doesn’t it? But I really am trying to find some good homes for these photos which were part of my Webster on the Web photo exhibit at the Webster Public Library in August.

I chose 24 photos for the exhibit, representing kids, community and events. It was fun having them up, but alas, a few days ago they had to be taken down to make room for September’s installation, featuring the awesome Webster-based nonprofot, Bella’s Bumbas (more on that in another blog).

(P.S., if you didn’t get to visit the library and see it, I’ve posted all the photos on a link you’ll find at the right side of this page.)

So now I have all these photos, most of them 8″ x 8″ or 10″ x 10″, which are going to get tossed if no one wants them. I’ve already delivered a handful of them to some proud parents and grandparents, but there are many more really cute ones that have gone unclaimed.

So, please take a moment and take a close look at all of the following photos and see if you can help me give them good homes. There are even a few which have no human subjects in them, but if you like ’em, they’re yours. If knowing the dates will help identify the children, you’ll find them in the photo link to the right.

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The gardens on my walk

24 Aug

Several weeks ago I devoted an entire blog to the beautiful gardens crafted by Maria Blanco all around her home at the corner of Phillips and Ridge Rd.

It struck me recently that Maria’s gardens, while spectacular, are not the only ones I admire on my daily walks. One of my regular walking routes takes me into the village, up North Ave. to the bike path, to Phillips, back into the village, and through neighborhood streets home. And all along the way, Rose of Sharon bushes, bursts of flowers and flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials, sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and whimsical signs cheer me and help quicken my step.

Yesterday, however, I slowed my step long enough to take photos of many of the gardens I see along the way. Perhaps yours is among them. If so, thank you for all your hard work and for brightening my mornings.

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Village lemonade entrepreneur raised funds for St. Jude

17 Aug

I make it a habit to stop at every lemonade stand I encounter when I’m walking or biking, or even driving. I like encouraging young entrepreneurs, and adding to the thrill they get from earning a few dollars. If you feel the same, then you’re going to enjoy hearing about this very special lemonade stand.

It was set up at the corner of South Ave. and Park Ave. in the Village of Webster, at the home of Doug and Patty Pucci.

It was no ordinary lemonade stand, however. Not only was it about the most official-looking stand you’ll ever see — complete with an American flag, pinwheel, umbrella for shade and an “open/closed” sign — it also raised almost $500 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Nixie-Blu and a thirsty customer

The proprietor was 6-year old Nixie-Blu Howes, who was in town this summer with her mother, visiting her grandparents. Like any kid, Nixie-Blu loves the idea of making money, even though she said, “I don’t know what I want to spend it on.” But it was also her idea to donate half of her lemonade stand proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, in part because her aunt works there.

Just setting up shop in a highly visible location wasn’t enough, however. Nixie-Blu also made her own signs and posted them on trees throughout the neighborhood, pointing patrons to the stand.

Nixie-Blu first set up her lemonade concession when she was visiting in April. You may have noticed the stand and advertisements back then, and perhaps you even stopped by. This summer, however, she was really able to up her sales game when her grandpa Doug surprised her with the fancy new wooden stand.

The lemonade concession was open pretty much every day for the few weeks that Nixie-Blu and her mother were visiting. Business was steady; the stand attracted walkers and motorists nearly nonstop, paying what they wanted for their cup of lemonade. Nixie-Blu never set a price, instead asking her patrons to donate any amount they want to give. If they didn’t happen to have any money, she’d even give you some for free

Because kindness always begets kidness. And that’s the sweetest deal there is.

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So who WAS Jon S. Gerling?

4 Aug

You might think you’re totally unfamiliar with the name “Jon S. Gerling.” But it may surprise you to learn that you’ve very likely passed by this name countless times, especially if you’ve lived in Webster a long time and have children.

That was the case for me. Despite having lived in the area for almost 20 years, and having visited the Ridge Park playground and pavilion dozens of times, it took me that long to notice the small memorial that stands at the south end of the park, easily visible from Ridge Rd.

It announces that the baseball field next to you is the Jon S. Gerling Memorial Field.

The first time I noticed the memorial, I did a little online research to find out what I could about Mr. Gerling. Which was not much. I did find out that he died in 1977 at age 35 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. And clearly he was a huge supporter of Webster baseball, since the obituary invited people to donate to the Webster Athletic Association in his memory.

Ridge Park, which is adjacent to Town Hall, is now home to Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester, an outstanding adaptive playing field. So that kind of overshadows the Jon S. Gerling Memorial Field.

But let us not forget Jon S. Gerling. Perhaps next time you’re in the park, you can wander on over and take a closer look at the memorial and give a silent thank-you to Jon’s efforts to promote sports in our town.

If anyone has any more information about Jon Gerling, please email me!

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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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