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Parade of Pumpkins a spooky hit

25 Oct

If last night’s attendance at the Webster Recreation Center’s first-ever Parade of Pumpkins was any indication, people are starved for family entertainment.

An estimated 1,500 or so adults, teens and children walked the mile-long Chiyoda Trail last night, so many people that cars filled the Rec Center’s parking lot, and quickly overflowed into the lot across the street.

As they strolled along the path, visitors were greeted by about 450 uniquely carved, glowing jack-o-lanterns lining both sides of the path. The designs ran the gamut from traditional and whimsical to spooky and just plain weird. I saw a unicorn, cats, witches, a moose, flowers, and lots of toothy grins.

At the end of the parade, everyone was treated to donuts and cider, served in the Rec Center’s expansive playing fields, with plenty of space for social distancing.

Parks Commissioner Chris Bilow and Recreation Supervisor Katie Kovar spent much of the evening welcoming families at the parade entrance. They were delighted not only by the turnout, but also by how many people thanked them for pulling the event together.

The enthusiastic response was a pleasant surprise. “We expected maybe 100 pumpkins from the community,” Kovar said. Even still, it only took a few hours for the staff members to place them along the path, adding some extra surprises like a pumpkin-light banner and twinkly lights along the path’s two bridges.

It was a beautiful night for a stroll, and a great opportunity for people to discover one of Webster’s best walking paths.

Bilow and Kovar are already thinking about next year, when COVID restrictions will not limit them to an all-outdoor event. They’re thinking maybe creating two paths, one just for toddlers and small children. Perhaps having music, games and crafts. Basically, making it a big fall festival, both inside the Rec Center and out.

“People want to do things like this at the holidays, and who better than (the Webster Rec)?” Bilow said.

Here are some more photos from the evening:

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Webster community mailbag

21 Oct

There’s lots going on this autumn in and around the town. I’m going to start today’s mailbag with a few reminders about some fun events you will NOT want to miss.

This Saturday, Oct. 24, the Webster Health and Education Network is sponsoring a Fall Drug Drop-off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Webster Wastewater Treatment Facility, 226 Phillips Rd. This is an excellent opportunity to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications which are clogging up your medicine cabinet.

Registration is not required for this event, but if you sign up on their website, they can send you a reminder the day before the event.

And remember, there’s a pharmaceutical drop-box at Town Hall, 1000 Ridge Rd., in the police station’s foyer, where you can drop off your unused pharmaceuticals any weekday during regular business hours.   


Also this Saturday, the Webster Recreation Center will host its first ever Pumpkins on Parade.

From 6:30 to 8 p.m. this Saturday Oct. 24, you can stroll along the Chiyoda Trail behind the Rec Center and view a parade of brightly glowing jack-o-lanterns. Afterwards, visitors will be treated to free cider and donuts.

But don’t just come and see the jack-o-lanterns. Create one yourself!

Children, adults, businesses, organizations, pretty much anyone who wants to participate is encouraged to carve a pumpkin and drop it off at the Rec Center on Friday Oct. 23 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. OR Saturday Oct. 24 between noon and 2. The Rec staff will be sure to get your creation out on the path for everyone to enjoy.

Multiple carved pumpkins are allowed and encouraged. For each carved pumpkin, participants will get a raffle ticket for a chance to win a great prize.

Businesses who choose to participate can leave a business card with their pumpkin and the Rec Center will make up a little sign to accompany it on the path with your name and logo.

Everything will be ready for viewing from 6:30 to 8 p.m. This is a free event and will run rain or shine, so put it on your calendar, and get carving! The Recreation Center is located at 1350 Chiyoda Drive, off of Phillips Rd.


And don’t forget about the Village of Webster’s costume contest. It’s going virtual this year, but there are still some great prizes to be awarded.

Here’s how it works:

  • Email a photo of yourself in your costume to VOWcostumecontest@gmail.com no later than October 29 at midnight. Group costumes will also be accepted.
  • Judges will take a look at all the entries and award prizes. Winners will be announced on Oct. 31 (Halloween) by noon on the Village of Webster Facebook page (so make sure to “like” the page!) Winners will also be contacted via email and/or by phone, as long as you’ve included that information with your submission.
  • Winners will receive gift cards to a Village of Webster business of their choice.

All (appropriate) submissions will be featured on the Village’s Facebook page, so smile big! I’ll also post the winning photos here on my blog.

So go “like” the Village of Webster Facebook page, check back frequently for updates, and get working on those costumes!


Here’s another fun, albeit virtual, event for the whole family.

It’s a Halloween Magic Show, presented by the Webster Recreation Department.

It takes place online on Friday Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Cost is $10 per family and pre-registration is required. Check the poster for more information, then visit the Rec Center website to register.


Looking forward to November…

Thanks to COVID-19, the Village of Webster can’t have its usual sit-down Veterans Day luncheon. Instead, they’ll be providing take-out meals for any interested veterans or service men and women on Wednesday Nov. 11.

The village is still working out the details, but so far we know that the meals will be paid for by the Village of Webster and made by Brimont Bistro.

The “luncheon” will be handed out at Village Hall, and a ceremony will still take place at Veterans Park, where everyone will be asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines unless you’re with family. Mayor Byerts will speak.

More details to come about this. But for now, if you’re a veteran or know of one, mark your calendar and spread the word.


The Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf is also looking forward to November, specifically their holiday dinner distributions.

Thanks to COVID, the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families needing help with accessing food this year. There’s been a more than 30% increase since March, and the food shelf is now serving between 138-150 families weekly.

Very soon, frozen turkeys will start going on sale at local grocery stores. If you’re able to grab an extra and donate it to the food shelf, it would go a long way to help feed our neighbors in need. Smaller sized turkeys are fine, 8-12 lbs. if possible.


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A parade of pumpkins comes to the Rec Center

18 Oct
This image comes from Victor, which holds a Jack-o-lantern Trail every year. Let’s make Webster’s just as spectacular.

Another great Halloween-themed event is coming to Webster this year, this one hosted by the Webster Recreation Center.

It’s called Pumpkins on Parade, scheduled for Saturday Oct. 24 along the Chiyoda Trail at the Rec Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive.

Basically, the Chiyoda Trail — which stretches for a mile around and behind the Rec Center — will be lined with brightly glowing Jack-o-lanterns. Visitors can walk along the trail and enjoy all the creativity and spookiness. Then afterwards, there’ll be free cider and donuts for all.

But before this can all happen, the Rec Center needs Jack-o-lanterns!

Children, adults, businesses, organizations, pretty much anyone who wants to participate is encouraged to carve a pumpkin and drop it off at the Rec Center on Friday Oct. 23 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. OR Saturday Oct. 24 between noon and 2. The Rec staff will be sure to get your creation out on the path for everyone to enjoy.

And don’t just stop at one pumpkin. Multiple carved pumpkins are allowed and encouraged. The more the spookier! And for each carved pumpkin, participants will get a raffle ticket for a chance to win a great prize.

Businesses who choose to participate can leave a business card with their pumpkin and the Rec Center will make up a little sign to accompany it on the path with your name and logo.

Everything will be ready for viewing from 6:30 to 8 p.m. This is a free event and will run rain or shine, so put it on your calendar, and get carving!

My personal thanks to the Rec Center for coming up with this great event. It will add a little bit of fun to an unusual Halloween season.

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Got unused and expired drugs?

13 Oct

It’s time to clean out your medicine cabinet and get rid of all of those expired and unused pharmaceuticals that have been hanging around for years.

You especially want to do this if you still have children at home; the statistics about children abusing prescription drugs and overdosing are frightening, and much of that is happening because they can often easily find these drugs in their own bathrooms.

Here are some facts:

  • More than 160 children go to the ER every day from accidental overdose
  • Most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative
  • Kids as young as 12 are trying prescription drugs to get high
  • OTC cold, allergy and cough meds can cause serious harm in large doses

WHEN, the Webster Health and Education Network, is sponsoring an event next week to make it easy for you to clean out your cabinets.

It’s the Fall Drug Drop-off, on Saturday Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Webster Wastewater Treatment Facility, 226 Phillips Rd.

Registration is not required for this event, but if you sign up on their website, they can send you a reminder the day before the event.

And remember, there’s a pharmaceutical drop-box at Town Hall, 1000 Ridge Rd., just inside the doors to the police station, where you can drop off your unused pharmaceuticals any weekday during regular business hours.   

Items accepted at the drop box include any unused, unwanted or expired medication such as prescriptions, prescription patches, prescription medication, prescription ointments, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, samples and medications for pets. Items that are NOT accepted include hydrogen peroxide, inhalers, aerosol cans, ointments, lotions or liquids, thermometers, needles (sharps) and medication from businesses or clinics.

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Produce and flowers and crafts, oh my!

23 Sep

Don’t let the slow creep of autumn scare you away; Webster’s Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market is still up and running every Saturday in the Towne Center Plaza, at the corner of Ridge and Holt (near Old Navy and the gazebo).

The market offers locally-grown fresh produce (including this season’s apples), baked goods, jams & jellies, honey, maple syrup, fresh meats, plants, spices and crafts. When I was there last weekend I grabbed some tomatoes and even started my Christmas shopping.

The market runs through the first week in November, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday. For more information, check out their Facebook page. And scroll through the slideshow at the top of this blog to see more photos!

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NEQALS is finally getting a REAL home

21 Sep

It’s been years in the making, but NEQALS will soon have a beautiful new home to call its own.

NEQALS (Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support) has been providing emergency life support in Webster, Ontario, and Penfield for 35 years. The agency’s roots go back to 1985, when a handful of Xerox employees were trained to provide emergency services to the Xerox campus.

In the years since, NEQALS became a separate entity and expanded to meet the growing need for emergency services in our area. But they’ve never had a permanent home, bouncing around among several locations in town, each with varying amounts of space for staff members to sleep and have meals.

That will finally change, with the construction of a new, dedicated headquarters building on Jackson Rd. next to the Ukranian Cultural Center.

The land was purchased almost six years ago, kicking off a long period of fundraising. Thanks to community donations and a grant from Senator Pam Helming’s office, enough money was finally raised for the project’s down payment.

The handsome new facility will have space for ten fly cars and ambulances, office space, bunk rooms, conference rooms, a kitchen, and more. Construction should be completed by next April.

Our dedicated first responders deserve this space, and I’m thrilled to see they’re finally getting it. Most of us don’t think much about our local EMTs and ambulance service until we need them. But when we do, it’s comforting to know they’re just a phone call away.

I experienced this personally last month when I took that spill off my bike and had my first-ever ambulance ride to the hospital. We didn’t have our car, so knowing that transportation to get medical treatment was going to come to ME took away some stress during what was a pretty traumatic experience.

I hope you’ll never need to call NEQALS, never have to have one of their ambulances respond to your home or auto accident. But if that terrible day does occur, you’re going to appreciate having these dedicated first responders at your side.

Fundraising continues for the new facility. Please consider throwing them a a few dollars next time you have the chance.

Here are some more photos from the ground breaking:

Webster community mailbag

3 Sep

It pains me just a little bit to post this first notice, because it’s a tacit admission that winter is not too far off, but it’s a very important message.

The Webster Public Library is hosting its second annual COAT DRIVE, to benefit Homeless Connect Rochester.

A large box has been placed in the library’s lobby, where you can donate your gently used (and clean!) coats of all sizes and types. The collection will run through Sept. 15 and the coats will be distributed to those residing in shelters and on the streets of Rochester.

For more information, visit the Homeless Connect Rochester website, and if you have any questions, email webster.reference@libraryweb.org.

Beginning Sept. 8, the Webster Public Library will have new hours, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here are a few other updates/reminders about the library’s services:

  • Curbside Service continues to be available whenever the library is open. Contact the library with questions by email at webster.reference@libraryweb.org or by phone at 585-872-7075.
  • Online programs are being offered. Check the website calendar for details. Any updates will be posted on the website slider and the WPL Facebook page.
  • Donations of books, DVDs, and music CDs are being accepted, but NO magazines, textbooks, or computer books. Two boxes maximum per day.
  • NO DMV at the library for the remainder of 2020.
  • Remember to wear your mask!

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Webster Parks and Recreation has cooked up a fun way to say goodbye to summer. 

It’s a socially-distanced food truck picnic on Wednesday, Sept. 9 (the day before school starts) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Miracle Field playground, 1000 Ridge Rd., Webster. Kid-friendly meals will be available from The Meatball Truck and Wraps on Wheels. The playground will be open, so you can buy lunch, relax on your last day of summer freedom, and play. 

Picnic tables will be socially distanced or bring a blanket to sit on. All ages are welcome and registration is not required. Please note: Masks are required, however, while ordering.

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More good food will be on the menu when St. Martin Lutheran Church hosts its fall drive-through chicken BBQ on Saturday Sept. 19 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Dinners of half-chicken, salt potatoes, coleslaw, roll, and butter are available for $10. The event this year will be drive-through only. Cars will enter the parking lot, follow the signs, and purchase tickets using exact payment. Cars will then proceed to the front entrance to pick up boxed dinners. Dinners will be assembled according to CDC recommendations. Due to current health restrictions, pie slices and other desserts will not be available.

Proceeds will support St. Martin’s our Christmas Stocking Project, which reaches more than 500 local youth in Monroe and Wayne counties.

St. Martin Lutheran Church, is located at 813 Bay Rd. in Webster. 

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Webster community mailbag

20 Jul

 

garlic festival

You’ve probably already seen this news, but in case you haven’t: the 2020 Rochester Garlic Festival, scheduled for Sept. 12-13, has been canceled.

The news, which comes on the heels of the cancellation of pretty much everything else this summer, certainly comes as no surprise. But after the festival’s strong return in 2019 after taking a year off, I was looking forward to seeing what it had in store for this year.

But we’ll have to wait until next summer.

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gazeboDid you miss out on attending the terrific, family-friendly comedy act that came to the gazebo a few Fridays ago? (Click here to read the blog I wrote about that show.)  Well, your next chance to enjoy some laughs is coming up on July 31.

Rudolph Valentino will return to the gazebo in Veterans Memorial Park on North Ave. on Friday night July 31. He’ll be joined by his co-host and funny friend Kevin Markman.

There’s no admission, and water and snacks can be purchased, if this show will be anything like the last. And you’ll laugh a lot.

Bring your quad chairs and a cooler if you like, and bring a mask in case you have to sit too close to anyone or want to hit up the vendors. But it’s a spacious area, so there shouldn’t be any problem social distancing. The show is slated to start at 7 p.m. But it started late last time so don’t worry if you’re running late.

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Finally, some news from the schools.

Congratulations to my former Webster Thomas teaching colleague Carol Saladzius, who was recently hired as assistant principal at Hilton High School. Carol and I worked together for several years at Thomas — me in the library and she a Spanish teacher — and I am happy for her new adventure.

Congratulations also to the Webster Thomas Best Buddies program, which last week was named the most outstanding high school chapter in New York State for 2020.

Best Buddies is a nationwide program which matches special education students with peer buddies who have similar interests.  The peer buddy makes a commitment to reach out to their buddy once a week outside school via email or telephone, and to get together and do something outside school with their buddy once a month.

The program came to Western New York four years ago and Webster Thomas was one of the first high schools to sign up. To read more about the program here in New York State, click here.

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Have you signed your school-age child up for school yet?

Our students will be going back to school one way or another this September, and the district really needs to know how many students to expect. So if your child isn’t already registered for the 2020-21 school year, please do so ASAP.

The New York State Department of Education requires all school-age students age 5-6 (in the given school year) and older be registered in some sort of education program in the district in which they live. This includes students who will be attending public school, those who will be going to private and parochial schools, those who have moved into a new school district, and those who will be home-schooled. (These can be changed at any time, but prior registration is still required.)

If you have a child who will be 5 years old on or before December 1, that child is eligible for kindergarten enrollment. Families new to Webster CSD with children grades 1-12 may also enroll their children at this time. For more information and to download registration packets, click here.

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Webster Community Blood Drive a huge success!

5 Jun

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Local first responders gather in the Webster Recreation Center parking lot at the end of the community blood drive.  

Wow.

Just wow. That about sums up my feelings after seeing the final tallies from this week’s Webster Community Blood Drive.

This biannual drive is always a very popular one because of the raffle prizes, but even without the promise of those prizes, our Webster community came out in record numbers. Word from the Red Cross folks is that the two-day drive attracted 191 donors, who (counting double reds) donated 197 units. Both days’ goals of 85 units were blown away in what is the best Community Blood Drive in recent memory.

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Many donors also took the opportunity to write encouraging notes on posters for the first responders. 

But not only that! When the Webster community heard that this year’s drive was being held to support local businesses and first responders, they answered the call, dropping eight gift cards and more than $450 in cash into the box on the welcome table. One kind donor also included several nice notes and “Miraculous Medals.” All of the donations will be distributed to members of the North East Quadrant Advanced Life Support, the Webster Volunteer Fire Dept., and the West Webster Volunteer Fire Dept.

So THANK YOU to the Webster (and surrounding) community members who came out in support of this week’s drive by donating blood and/or cash and gift certificates. You all helped save hundreds of lives through your donations, and showed some much-need support those first responders in our community who also save lives.

A personal thank you to Monroe County Legislator Matthew Terp and Webster Deputy Supervisor Patti Cataldi for their work organizing the drive, and to Matt for manning the welcome tent in front of the Rec Center for the entire drive (except when he went inside to donate).

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Matt Terp (right) and Shirley Humphrey welcome donors at the Rec Center.

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The Rec Center ice rink is open — and better than ever

25 Jan

IMG_2606Good news for ice skaters! It’s finally been cold enough for long enough this winter for the Webster Recreation Center to open its ice rink.

As far as I know, it’s the only outdoor public ice surface in town, and since it opened several years ago, it’s been very popular with families and hockey players. And this season, I’m happy to report, it’s even better than ever.

Thanks to the efforts of the Webster Rotary, this season the rink — which measures 52 ft. x 104 ft. — has a brand new liner AND a spacious warming hut where skaters can sit and put on their skates while protected from the weather.

The hut itself measures 16 ft. x 10 ft. Inside are two benches and thick rubber flooring to prevent damage to skates. There’s also a window in one side which allows for what meager sunlight we get in the winter months. 

As for the new liner, Mark Yaeger, Webster’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, calls it a “great addition in this climate when we have a thaw.”

He explained,

In the past we would lose the water seeping into the ground and we would have to start from scratch. With the liner the water stays and refreezes within a day or two. Building the ice rink from scratch takes about 4 or 5 days. 

The Webster Rotary Club purchased the new liner and sidewalls in 2018, and last year purchased the materials for the warming hut. Rotarian Rich Comins designed the building and enlisted support from Yeager and his Parks and Rec employees to construct the building.

The Rotary and Rec Center hope to have an official grand opening ceremony for the hut in the next few weeks. Watch for news of that!

The Webster Recreation Center is located at 1350 Chiyoda Drive, just north of the Village of Webster. For updated ice conditions, call 872-7103, option 3.

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