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First mud, now pumpkins!

24 Sep

Did you get a chance to roll around in the mud with your kids at the Mud Run last weekend at the Rec Center?

I wasn’t able to be there, but judging from the photos I’m seeing on the Webster Recreation Center Facebook page (like those below), it was a huge success. Fitness Coordinator Jay Verna confirmed that when he wrote,

Saturday was AWESOME!  We had 243 total registered and kids and families loved it so much they went through it multiple times!  We have ideas on how to make it even better for 2022 but overall, we are really happy with how thing turned out. 

If you also want to see a short fun video from the day, click here.

Fresh from their success at the Mud Run, Rec Center staffers have turned their attention to this year’s Second Annual Pumpkins on Parade, scheduled for Saturday Oct. 23.

This is an amazing, family-friendly Halloween-time event, when the Chioya Trail is lined with creative, scary, and downright funny Jack-o-lanterns. Community members and businesses are invited — no, encouraged — to carve up some pumpkins, and then bring the family that evening after dark to look for them along the mile-long trail which winds around the Rec Center. Afterwards, everyone gets free donuts and cider.

Last year’s first-ever event drew a lot of Jack-o-lanterns from the community, but the Rec Center staff had to create a bunch of their own to make sure there were plenty for the trail. This year, I’m sure they’re hoping to get A LOT MORE community submissions.

Local businesses especially are encouraged to join the fun and carve a pumpkin — or two, or five. Rec Center staff members promise that your business’ name will be posted right next to them, which is a great way to get some free promotion. And if this year’s event is as popular as last year’s was (it drew about 1,500 people), that’s some pretty great free promotion.

I’ll be blogging about this again with more details as the date nears, but check out this poster for now, and start sketching some ideas. If you’d like to read more about last year’s parade, and see some of the creative submissions, click here for the follow-up blog I wrote.

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Get down and muddy at the Rec Center!

16 Sep

I wasn’t planning to post a blog today, but when I was out on my bike ride this morning, I came across something fun.

My ride took me on the Chiyoda Trail which wraps around the back of the Webster Recreation Center. I saw that preparations were being made for this Saturday’s first-ever Mud Run. This is going to be a non-competitive, untimed, half-mile slog through water and mud, with some challenging obstacles. What’s really neat about it is that kids and their adults can do it together. It’s only $5 per person, and there’ll be giveaways and snacks afterwards.

The Rec has long had an obstyacle/fitness course in their back yard, but this morning I saw that they were making it even more challenging. There were hay bales set up (for clambering over I suspect), some rope contraption I don’t remember seeing before, and two big mud pits.

As I came around the trail bend heading back towards the Rec Center, I saw the master architects behind it all: Jeff Janto and Josh Barnard, two Rec Center staff members who were dropping even more hay bales and wetting down the expansive field, trying to make even more mud and wetness before Saturday.

It was neat to see the preparations, but it saddened me a little; I’m not going to be in town, so I can’t crawl through the mud myself. It looks like SO MUCH FUN, and a great family opportunity to get down and dirty together. (Unfortunately, it looks like the weather will be nice. Can you IMAGINE how much MORE fun it would be in the rain?)

The Mud Run will be held this Saturday Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Dr. Registrations are still being taken. Sign up on the Parks and Rec website (program #301202).

Click here to see a little teaser video giving you an idea of what the Rec has planned, and check out the photos I took this morning:

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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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Announcing some Webster on the Web improvements

12 Sep

In an effort to make Webster on the Web an ever more valuable source of local news and information, I’ve decided to try something new.

You’ll see that at the top and in the side rail of my Webster on the Web homepage I’ve posted links to two brand new sub-pages, titled “Local Links” and “Village Directory.” (If you’re reading this on your phone, you’ll find the links in the “Menu” button on top, or all the way at the bottom of the page.)

The Local Links is separated into three sections: Local Government, Community Agencies and Churches. Each listing within these sections has a hyperlink leading straight to that organization’s website (or at least that’s what I tried to do).

On the Village Directory page, I’ve made the effort to map as many village businesses as I could. To make the maps less cluttered, I’ve separated them into three categories: Retail Shops, Professional Services, Eat and Drink and Park. When you click through to the map (using one of two links), and hover over a dot, it will tell you what the business is and its address.

I did my best to be as accurate and inclusive as possible, but after you’ve had a chance to poke around a bit, if you see anything you think I should add, please email me!

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Webster Village 9/11 Memorial details

9 Sep

The Village of Webster’s 9/11 remembrance ceremony is going to look a little different this year.

This year’s ceremony, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrible events of 9/11/2001, will be held at — and in conjunction with — the dedication of the new NEQALS base, located at 1030 Jackson Rd.

NEQALS president Ahmed Mustafa wrote on the Facebook event page,

The Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support Emergency Medical Services Base is 33 years in the making. Our first responders having been serving the community in borrowed and rented facilities and will now have a place to call our own.

The completion of the base coincides with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a day that demanded service from all available to save life during an attack on American civilians. In collaboration with the Village of Webster NEQALS is hosting the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony along with our building dedication.

The ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., will include presentations by the Webster Village Band, the Chorus of the Genesee and the Webster Police Honor Guard.

Parking for handicapped guests wll be available at the Ukranian Club, 1040 Jackson Rd., and other guests may park in the Elks lot at 1066 Jackson Rd.

The event is open to the public.

P.S. Please note that there will be no ceremony at Gazebo Park this year.

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Going back to school — sort of

3 Sep

This has been a very weird start to the new school year for me.

The first day of school for students isn’t until Wednesday, but teachers and support staff were already back all last week, setting up their classrooms, reconnecting with their colleagues, and basically preparing mentally and physically for another unusual school year.

But I’m not there.

Having retired from my job as a library teaching assistant from the district in June, I’m watching from the sidelines for the first time in 20 years. It’s definitely a little weird, and a little sad. But thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I’ve been able to vicariously enjoy those back-to school meetings and strategy sessions.

I saw photos from State Road Elementary School, for example, where staff members held their opening circle outside in the parking lot and playground. Facebook photos from Plank North showed all of my former colleagues clumped up in very familiar discussion groups. Some schools are posting their staff photos, where everyone is packed on risers and clearly grinning broadly behind their masks with opening-day excitement. Others, like Webster Schroeder, had their teachers hold personalized signs indicating how long they’d been in the district.

I even got a special invitation several days ago from Schlegel Elementary School principal Francine Leggett to join my former colleagues when they took a field trip on Wednesday to Jack’s Place playground in Webster Park to explore and reflect upon this year’s theme of “We are crew.”

In short, the idea of “being crew” is that everyone (students and staff) is working together towards the same goal, helping each other achieve and be successful. On their field trip this week, teachers and support staff actually took an important first step toward connecting with their student community by taking a bus ride through every one of the neighborhoods the school serves, before arriving at the playground.

I don’t miss all the meetings, but it was nice to see many of my old colleagues in photos and on the playground. Here are a few photos from that day at the park.

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The village’s got your weekend covered

20 Aug

Summer in the Village of Webster is really ending on a high note.

Tonight, Friday Aug. 20, the Gazebo Concert series continues with a performance by Grammy-nominated smooth jazz artist Jimmie Highsmith Jr. and his band.

The concert begins at 7 p.m., and audience members are encouraged to bring their chairs, blankets, and coolers for two hours of fine music. There’s no charge.

Saturday afternoon Aug. 21, the Village Wine Walks return. These are always very popular events, where participants stroll through the village, stopping at several businesses along the way and sampling a nice variety of wines. This year’s event should be even better attended as it begins in the afternoon for the first time. Partticipants can pick up their wine glasses and begin their mini-wine tour at Finn’s Automotive, 45 East Main Street, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Webster Special Police.

Looking forward to next week, Movies in the Park return on Tuesday Aug. 24, with a showing of Honey I Shrunk the Kids Gazebo Park. The movie will begin around 8:15.

All of these events are brought to you by the Webster BID. Visit their website for more details about all of these and sign up for the BID newsletter so you’ll stay informed about all upcoming events. (Like the Jazz Fest in September!)

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Edna Struck Memorial Park is looking beautiful again

12 Aug

Edna Struck Memorial Park is the charming little grassy median where Lapham Park makes a slight jog at the corner of Elm St, on the east side of the village. It’s named in honor of Mrs. Struck, who made it her passion to tend the plants on the island for years.

In February of 2019, someone was driving down Lapham Park much too fast and — instead of navigating the jog in the road — decided to drive right through the park, mowing down the trees and plants, and inflicting significant other damage.

For two years now, the village has been working to refurbish the median, including planting more trees and flowers and reinstalling the large stone and memorial plaque honoring Edna Struck. The repairs began in earnest last fall when workers leveled the plot and put down some new topsoil. Then the trees were planted, and finally this spring, flowers and a new boulder.

The work is finally nearing completion. About the only thing left to do is reinstall the memorial plaque, but that, too, should be happening soon.

So, the little pocket park is looking nice again. I think Edna herself would be pleased.

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Some Village business notes and mailbag stuff

6 Aug

Here are a some positive village business updates to start off our morning.

The patio tables and chairs are finally in place the Cobblestone on Main restaurant, and they’re already very popular.

The patio was completed several weeks ago along the front of this fabulous new village restaurant, but it took a while for the area to be ready for service. The new tables and chairs are a beautiful addition, especially since the Cobblestone has been seeing steady business every since it opened in April, and can really use the extra seating.

Cobblestone on Main is located at 109 West Main St. Check out their Facebook page here and their website here.

It’s been a long time coming, but Village HandWorks finally has an opening date … sort of.

Village HandWorks is the Village of Webster’s newest shop, going in at 19 East Main St., right next door to the Village Quilt Shoppe. It will feature original hand-crafted goods, and offer a place for crafters to practice their skills, take a class or two, or just gather to sit, stitch and share their projects.

Originally scheduled to open last month, there were some unexpected delays, as there often is with a brand new business. But a few days ago I noticed that owner Jenn Ratcliffe posted a message in the front window indicating she’s planning to open in mid-August.

In the meantime, it’s fun to peek in the window and see the spinning wheel and loom she’s set up and will be using once the shop opens, so anyone who’s walking by can watch her work.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Here’s a brand new family event happening this Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park (Gazebo Park on North Ave.).

Village of Webster dance studio Roc Dance is partnering with Roc and Soul Fitness to present a Webster Village Family Activity Open House Sunday afternoon Aug. 8 from noon to 3 p.m.

The event will include kids’ dance and soccer classes and adult barre and yoga classes. All of the classes are free to attend, and if you participate in any one, you’ll receive some free goodies.

Click on the flyer above for more information and schedule details, or visit the Roc Dance Facebook page.

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There’s still time to register for the 2021 Miracle Field Hitting Derby and Year-End Picnic, beginning Saturday, August 7.

The month-long event is a fun and friendly competition held over four sessions, which will benefit Challenger Miracle Field. In addition to bragging rights on the field, participants can also earn cool prizes through several fundraising levels.

For more information and registration forms, click here.

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RL Thomas 1970 grads, mark your calendars now for your next class of 1970 reunion, scheduled for Friday and Saturday Sept. 17 and 18. Details are still coming together, so for updates or questions, email Or make sure you’ve joined the Class of 1970 Facebook group.

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There’s still plenty of August left, and the Village of Webster has packed in a lot of events.

For starters, the Wine Walks are back! Coming up Saturday Aug. 21 from 4 to 6 p.m., join your friends and neighbors, sample some wines and check out some businesses you’ve never visited before.

Glass pick-up will be at Finn’s Automotive 45 East Main St., where they’ll also give you a map of the participating shops. Cost is $15. Click here for more details.

The gazebo in Veterans Memorial Park on North Ave. will host concerts each of the next three Friday nights.

Tonight (Aug. 6) features Judah Sealy Smooth Jazz. Next week (Aug. 13) will be the “Acoustic Americana” sounds of Spooky & the Truth, and on the 20th, Jimmie Highsmith Jr. takes the stage with his unique blend of smooth urban jazz.

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. Bring your own chairs, blankets, and coolers. For more details, click here.

Finally, the next Tuesday night Movie in the Park will feature Sing on Aug. 10 in Veterans Memorial Park.

Here’s the summary:

In a world of anthropomorphic animals, koala Buster Moon owns a theater, having been interested in show business since his father took him to his first music show as a child. To raise money following some financial problems, Buster plans a singing competition with a prize of $1,000. But Buster’s assistant accidentally appends two extra zeroes, and the promotional fliers showing $100,000 are blown out of Buster’s office into the city streets.

Click here for more details about this showing and upcoming movies in the park.

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Here’s a late addition to my mailbag:

The Webster Marching Band will hold a Bottle and Can Drive on Saturday Aug. 7 at Willink Middle School. Please bring your returnables between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and they’ll even take them out of your car for you.

Willink is located at 900 Publisher’s Parkway, adjacent to Thomas High School.

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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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