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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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Loving life in the village

13 Jun

I love living in the Village of Webster. The people are friendly, the streets are extremely walkable, there are parks within walking distance, and great restaurants and pubs just around the corner. We live on a street, but feel like we are part of a neighborhood.

Saturday (June 12) was a great example of what’s to love about Webster. For starters, that afternoon our Park Ave. neighbor Doug Pucci hosted his second annual Village Block Party, featuring two food trucks and a free concert by his Red Hot and Blue Band, playing from Pucci’s spacious porch.

Everyone in the village was invited, and more than 100 answered the call. Adults spread their quad chairs across the lawn and closed-off street and listened to the music, or stood in small groups visiting with neighbors. Children chalked in the street, played with bubbles and danced in the grass.

It was the perfect opportunity for long-time neighbors to reconnect after a long pandemic. It was also a chance for new residents to meet their new neighbors and start to to know the feeling that they are part of the village community.

It was the quintessential village experience.


Earlier in the day, I was riding my bike and happened upon a woman setting up chairs and a table in the lawn of the apartment complex near my house. She was taping some kind of sign onto the table. Curious (and being who I am), I stopped to find out what was going on.

Her name was Jennifer Martinez, and she explained that she was setting up the table for her son and his friends, who were going to hold a Free Lemonade stand later that afternoon.

Apparently every year since her son Emilio was very young, Jennifer’s mother Gail had held a garage sale. And every year during that sale, Emilio would set up a lemonade stand. This year, Gail wasn’t able to hold her sale, so Jennifer suggested that Emilio simply set up his stand outside their home instead.

In years past, Emilio had charged for his lemonade. But not this year. When I asked Jennifer about that, she said that the idea to hand out the lemonade for free was “just to be kind.” Then, after giving it a bit of thought, she added, “It’s nice to be among people again.”

Emilio and his fellow business owners Will Brunswick and Owen Knapp, all 7th-grade friends at Spry Middle School, were enthusiastic lemonade hawkers, even though they weren’t earning any cold, hard cash. They stood out on the sidewalk yelling “free lemonade!” to all the cars driving by on busy South Ave, and any time a biker, walker or runner got within 50 yards of the table, one of them (usually Owen, wearing a flag cape), would chase them down “selling” their wares at full volume.

At first the salesmen were only getting a lot of honks and waves from passing cars. But while I was there (getting my free lemonade), they were able to wave down a passing FedEx delivery truck, whose driver gratefully accepted the refreshment. And if yelling to someone didn’t work, they would take the lemonade to their customers, at one point skittering across South Ave., two-fisting cups of lemonade, to deliver them to people who were setting up for the block party.

The highlight of the day was probably when the boys were able to attract the attention of a passing police car. The officer didn’t stop, but she did come back a few minutes later and invited another colleague to join her. So at one point two Webster police officers were standing at the table enjoying some lemonade.

The kids even earned a little money after all. Some patrons couldn’t resist throwing a dollar on the table, and one family brought them some fresh-picked strawberries.

A friendly neighbor who didn’t mind at all a random stranger stopping to chat. Free lemonade and kids having fun doing something other than sitting in front of a screen. Just two more things I love about village life.

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On ducklings and merry-go-rounds

6 May

Today I bring you a short tale about a young Plank North family, a bully, and resilience.

The central characters of our story are Mama and Papa Duck. For at least ten years now, these two mallards (we assume they’re the same two) have been returning every spring to Plank North Elementary School to build their nest.

They usually choose a different location on the school grounds every year to settle down. Twice they’ve nested near the second grade classrooms on the west side of the building, once under the pear tree by the receiving doors, and once in front of the office window. One year they even made their nest on the school’s roof, which became obvious when staff members saw the ducklings jumping off the roof one day.

Second grade teacher Sheila O’Hanlon has kind of become the ducks’ overseer, keeping an eye out for them every year, and making sure everyone knows where they are so students don’t get too near the nest and spook Mama and Papa.

“It’s always about this time of year” that the ducks return, Sheila said. “The eggs take about 28 days to mature, and they usually stay for a few days until the babies are big enough to waddle off. We think they head down Scribner to a little pond by the side of the road.”

Sure enough, about three weeks ago, Mama and Papa Duck returned, this time tucking their nest under the merry-go-round on one of the school’s playgrounds. As soon as the new nest was discovered, staff members put up signs and yellow warning tape to keep kids away.

For a couple of weeks, Mama could be seen every day sitting on her nest, protecting what we all suspected was a clutch of eggs.

Then, one day, a fox was spotted on the school grounds. Not long after that, Mama and Papa Duck were gone and the nest was empty.

For a while the ducks were nowhere to be seen. But recently, we saw Mama and Papa again, exploring the school grounds. The nest is still empty, but at least the young parents are still around. We all hope they’ve made another nest somewhere, better hidden from Mr. Fox. Maybe it’s down by that little pond.

In any case, we fully expect these resilient young parents to return again next year to raise an adorable family of fluffy ducklings. Perhaps they should go back to the roof…..

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Webster community mailbag

9 Mar

Two opportunities to help our neighbors in today’s mailbag, and some reader memories from the ice storm of ’91.

Immanuel Lutheran Church at 131 West Main St., in the Village of Webster will hold a food and underwear drive on Saturday March 20 from from 10 a.m. to noon.

The food collected will be shared with needy families via Immanuel’s Weekend Backpack Food program and their Little Free Pantry.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Weekend Backpack Food program. It began with 16 students at one elementary school, and was just a 6-week commitment. It currently supports more than 70 students across all seven Webster elementary buildings.

In his recent email, Ed Huehn from Immanuel explained,

A referral from a teacher, school nurse or social worker and consent from a guardian/parent makes (a student) a part of the program. The food provides support to the student on the weekend. Some, but not all of the kids receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the week. The foods included are kid-friendly and easy to prepare. Each bag contains 4-6 food items for meals or snack. They are a supplement for the weekend and easy to prepare. …The Webster School District transports the food from the church to each building and a coordinator there distributes the bags! Many thanks to all involved in this program and their support over 10 years.

Immanuel also maintains one of the many little free pantries in the Webster area, located in the parking lot. The concept is “take what you need and leave what you can.” Some of the donations collected on the 20th will be used to restock the pantry. If you choose to bring donations at other times, please limit them to commercially prepared, non-perishable goods.

Oh, yeah! And remember they need underwear, too. Underwear is one of the most needed and least donated items in community programs. Pleease bring only new underwear and socks, in orginal packaging.


If you happen to be closer to Penfield’s four corners on that Saturday, Penfield First Baptist Church is also holding a drive-up, drop-ff food drive that day, also from 10 a.m. to noon. They’ll be set up in the church parking lot, 1862 Penfield Rd. Donations will support the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf “feed the kids” program.


The Webster Public Library has a Puzzle Swap Shelf!

I’m actually bouncing in my chair as I write that, because I am an off-again on-again jigsaw-puzzler (when I can find the time and space) and have burned through all the ones I own. And I fear my good friend Patty will get tired of loaning me ones from her expansive collection.

So when I heard that I can take some of my old standbys (some of which I have done several times) and swap them out for new ones, I was delighted. So grab your ond ones and stop by the library for some new ones. I might just see you there!

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

Finally, I would like to share with you a few reader responses I got after my blog on the 30th anniversary of the 1991 ice storm. I invited everyone to send in their memories from that day, and I received a few. Thank you for sharing!

At that time we lived in Country Manor apartments. And we were lucky because power was restored to that complex quickly. (Xerox was busy back then and I think that our close proximity to the plant helped get the power back later that day on the 4th) But it was one heck of a night listening to the branches cracking and falling in a nearby wooded area and also seeing the flashes of the transformers blowing up. I would rate this storm as probably the worst storm that I have experienced in this area in my life. The blizzard of ’66 was wild, but we did not have the loss of power or the outright destruction that the ice storm of ’91 had. Our county looked like a war zone for sure ! — Bob B.

We were living in the Maplewood area of the city. A branch in our backyard took out our power but we were able to run a large extension cord from our neighbor’s garage for minimal power. We were low priority for the power company so didn’t get power back for a week. My sons wanted to take a walk so I made them wear football helmets because of the ice falling from trees. It was beautiful! — Karen T.

We had moved to Irondequoit by 1991. … Our ice storm experience in Irondequoit similar to yours. Had power, so Greece family moved in. Crowded but fun. Lost some trees, no house damage. Beautiful wind-chime sound of ice-laden branches moving in wind until wind picked up and turned into crashing sounds as branches and limbs fell. — Kathy T.

On a side note, it was fun to discover through these memories that Kathy and I were apparently neighbors back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, living perhaps 10 houses away from each other on the same city street.

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The weird tradition continued, even without snow

26 Dec

Several days ago I blogged about an unusual, decades-old tradition my family has, the annual barefoot snow walk. (Click on the hyperlink to get a little more detail about the tradition’s history and recent interations.)

In that blog I pledged that the crazy tradition would continue, even though I wouldn’t be getting together with my extended family for the holidays. As promised, I set up a Zoom snow walk instead, and invited family members from around the country to participate.

It proved to be as crazy a virtual gathering as it usually is in person.

Just before the appointed time, 11 a.m. Christmas morning, cousins and nephews and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles from around the country started joining the meeting, and it wasn’t long before we were all barefoot and heading out the door. Many carried their phones to record the event, others had propped their laptop up on the porch or had a non-participant hold the recording device. (These nonbelievers are usally in-laws.)

We didn’t all have snow, but that didn’t stop us. I made sure, for example, to gather up a couple of buckets-full on Christmas Eve before the rains started and threw it in a freezer. The next morning we brought it to our gathering at my daughter’s house in Gates. It had frozen solid and I had to break it up with a hammer, but it was enough for the three of us to stand in.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the wild video.

Top row are my eldest daughter Sara and her boyfriend Tom in Cheektowaga; my daughter’s living room; my brother Chris and his family in PA; and my brother Greg in CT.

Middle row: me, my son Sean and youngest daughter Erin at her house in Gates; my sister Mindy in Greene; my cousin Laura in AZ (where she put her feet in a pool); and my cousin Amy in MA (holding a phone where my aunt and uncle are FaceTiming in from Cape Cod and walking in their snow).

On the bottom: my nephew Tim and his girlfriend Manda are watching while they drive; my cousin Paul in Horseheads; and my nephew Drew in MA.

Now here’s the really neat thing about all of this, and one of the few positive things to have come out of this pandemic. In total, 21 children and adults were part of the 2020 COVID Barefoot Snow Walk, from all over New York and four other states, including Arizona. It was something we never would have done in a normal year.

This is the first time all of these people have been “together” in one place. I haven’t seen most of them in more than a year — even years. And I don’t care the reason, or that it was through a computer screen. It was just great to see them all.

Hoping you all had a merry Christmas filled with your own comforting and unusual traditions.

No snow on Christmas morning? No prob. We saved some from Christmas Eve.

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Two stories of holiday kindness

19 Dec

Here are a few quick stories that will brighten your day.

The first comes from one of my faithful readers, whose daughter Julia dances with the local studio Dancing With Denise, located on Gravel Rd. in Webster.

Owner Denise Baller has always supported our community in so many ways, most recently participating in the recent Webster Holiday Parade of Lights, where she and her dedicated dancers kept going through rain and snow until the very last car drove through the parade.

Last week Sunday she and her “Happy Feet Dancers” dancers took that commitment to The Maplewood senior living community and created their very own Dancing Parade around the outside of the building. Each resident was treated to their own private dance show right outside their windows.

The photo above is of the dancers in their holiday gear. Go on over to Denise’s Facebook page to see more photos and a really cute video.

I picked up this next tidbit from a Facebook post created by Jamie Nodine about her son Josh.

I wrote about Josh back in March when he was treated to a very special birthday parade past his house, kind of a consolation prize for when his Dream Factory trip to Walt Disney World got canceled.

On nice days, Josh likes to sit outside his State Rd. home and wave at the cars and trucks driving by. When he was doing that a little more than a week ago, he was surprised by a very special visitor.

Jamie wrote,

The weather was beautiful yesterday! It was a perfect day for Josh to sit in the driveway and wave to passersby. As I looked out the front window, I saw a truck slow down and stop in the driveway. Much to my surprise, Santa hopped out to greet my son! Josh was beside himself! With a “ho ho ho,” he handed Josh some candy canes and wished him a Merry Christmas.

Josh was thrilled, Jamie added, and talked about the experience all night long. A big thank you to the the kind Santa in the pickup truck for taking the time to make a special memory this special young man.

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Honoring our first responders

27 Jul

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Better late than never, I’d like to post a follow-up report on the mini-parade that took place along East Main Street on Thursday night.

There obviously was no Firemen’s Parade this year, but Lori Allen and her family was undaunted, setting up their parade chairs outside their Main Street home anyway, at what would have normally been parade time (albeit a week late thanks to the monsoon). They handed out free flags to passersby, accepted donations for our first responders, and welcomed visits by officers from the Webster PD and Webster Volunteer FD firefighters.

I wasn’t able to make the festivities, but Lori posted this on her Facebook page:

Not a bad turnout ! Thank you all who stopped and got a lag, beeped your horn and waved, and those who donated! Thank you Webster Police Dept for stopping and also thank you to the Webster fireman and woman for coming as well and to all the firemen THANK YOU for what you do! 

Before the end of the evening, Lori raised $218 through donations from passers-by.

I don’t know exactly who took all these photos, but here are a few from the evening:

Many thanks to the Allen family for reminding us what community is all about.

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The parade will go on!

21 Jul

Well, sort of.

Last weekend I posted about Lori Allen and her family, who were planning to do something special last Thursday night in honor of the Webster Fireman’s Parade.

The plan was, on Thursday evening, which in a normal year would have been Parade Night, they were going to set up their chairs in front of their house at Baker and East Main (as they do every year). Then, during the normally scheduled parade time, they would hand out flags and encourage drivers to honk on their way by.

Well, you may remember that a monsoon blew through town last Thursday night, so that event was cancelled, as would have the parade itself, probably.

But Lori has announced that the virtual parade has been rescheduled for this Thursday, July 23.  So as you’re driving or walking through the village that evening around 6:30 or so, watch for them, grab a flag, toot your horn and join in the celebration!

flags

The event is as much a celebration of the parade-that-wasn’t as it is a fundraiser for our Webster Volunteer Fire Department.

This is what Lori posted about that on Facebook:

My Dad wants to show support for the firemen, police, all first responders. Thursday we will be sitting up there handing out American flags, and flags with thin blue or red stripes representing our police and firemen along with info on donating.

This is (the WVFD’s) big fundraiser and of course the Carnival has been cancelled due to Covid. So if you’re driving by Baker St., stop and get your flag, or honk as you go by, and please consider donating to the Webster Volunteer Fire Dept. It may be you they come to save.

I imagine that Lori and her family will have a collection jar out there, but if you’re not going to be able to stop by, you can also donate by visiting http://www.donatewvfd.org. Or if you’d rather send a check, make it payable to the Webster Volunteer Fire Dept. Fund, and mail to: Key Bank, 980 Ridge Rd., Webster, NY 14580.

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Birthday parade honors former St. Rita principal

13 May

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Birthday parades seem to be popping up every week these days, but this one was an extra special one.

On Monday evening, a parade of cars of cars honoring Sister Katherine Ann Rappl streamed through the St. Rita parking lot, offering gratitude and 80th birthday wishes to the school’s former principal.

It was a complete surprise for Sister Rappl, who clearly enjoyed the parade, which numbered about 140 cars. Thank you so much to Julie Schillaci for passing along the included here.

Julie also sent this write-up about the school’s beloved former principal:

No matter how many years pass, alumni of St. Rita School in Webster will always be “God drops” to Sister of Mercy Katherine Ann Rappl.

Exceptional students at the school are recognized with this honorary designation and receive raindrop-shaped sun catchers to hang in their windows to remind them 84CD1B72-D0E9-48EF-96F8-E6E6EF5CF9F9of how they capture God’s love.

The phrase “God drops” was one that Sister Rappl picked up during a National Catholic Educational Association Conference workshop years ago

“A raindrop is fully made up of what a cloud is made up of,” she always said, noting that people are God drops because they are made up of the same substance as God. God’s life is inextricably intertwined with their lives, she said.

And for the past 30 years, the lives of the students at St. Rita School have been intertwined with Sister Rappl, who began working there as principal in 1983.

She taught at St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist, Rochester; St. Salome, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; and St. Patrick Junior High School and Notre Dame High School, Elmira.

Formerly known as Sister Mary Benedicta, her home parish was St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit, and she attended the parish school. She said the Sisters of Mercy who taught her at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton were very influential in her discerning her vocation, and she became a Sister of Mercy in 1958.

Sister Rappl loves being in Catholic education because she has been able to teach children both academics and their faith, and she has gotten the chance to see students grow.

“That’s a big joy in seeing how they learn to take responsibility and control of their behavior from kindergarten to sixth grade,”

And, she always points out, J.O.Y. — an acronym that stands for Jesus, others and yourself — is the school’s theme.

“I always tell students don’t let anyone take your joy away from you,” Sister Rappl received the “Lighting the Fire Award” from the Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State for her 50 years of service in Catholic education.

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You may have heard some commotion last night in the village around 7 p.m. That was yet another birthday parade, this one for Fritz Sierk, owner of The Coach Sports Bar on West Main.

This one featured not only a fire engine and other emergency vehicles, but also the WFD’s antique engine, and that huge Teamsters semi, blasting music.

Hard to tell if Fritz saw it all; he seemed to have something in his eye for part of it.

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The next Webster Museum docent?

23 Jan

Edison PoppHere’s a wonderful tidbit from our Webster Museum and how the folks there are changing young lives.

The photo above is of 7-year old Edison Popp. His grandmother, Marianne Ferrara, had taken him to the Webster Museum where Sharon Pratt and Lisa McNamara were serving as docents. They gave him a tour of the museum, and he was so impressed that, upon returning home, he set up his own museum and acted as docent.

As for me, I would love to know what some of those objects are and am very impressed that he had access to all of them. I see a college history major in the future.

Haven’t visited the Webster Museum yourself lately? Make sure to pop in soon to see their latest exhibits. Perhaps you will also be inspired, juts as Edison was. The museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, open 2-4 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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