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Checking out the Michael Johnson trail

28 May

There’s a brand new trail in town, and judging from the reaction I got from the recent blog I wrote about it, people are pretty excited.

The Friends of Webster Trails have recently completed work on the new Michael A. Johnson Nature Preserve Trail, the entrance to which is about halfway between VanAlstyne Rd. and Drumm Rd. on the Hojack Trail. The Friends are planning to introduce the new trail to the community at a dedication ceremony and inaugural community hike on Saturday June 3 beginning at 9 a.m. (Participants are asked to park at Gosnell Big Woods and meet at the Hojack Trail entrance off of Drumm Rd.)

I’m not going to be able to attend that event, so on Sunday my husband and I rode our bikes over there to hike it and check it out for ourselves.

It’s really a beautiful little trail. And I say “little” because it’s actually much shorter than I thought it was, covering only .33 miles. It does connect to the John Ungar Nature Trail, which itself is .34 miles, so you can extend your hike by doing both trails at once.

As usual, the Friends have done a nice job blazing the trail, and have placed a few maps along the way to guide you. It’s an easy trail to hike; there are a few hills, but nothing too obnoxious, and I think kids could manage it quite easily. It’s far enough away from any major roads to be wonderfully peaceful, and very beautiful, filled with birdsong.

As an added bonus, hikers will get an up-close look at some of the wonderful work the Friends have been accomplishing with their ReTree Project. The trail passes about a dozen brand new trees planted recently to help keep our open space areas healthy.

I encourage everyone to check out this beautiful new trail, either at the June 3 community hike or some other time. Then consider showing how much you appreciate everything the Friends of Webster Trails volunteers do to create and maintain all of our beautiful trails, by becoming a member. It’s just $15 a year per family, $10 for an individual. Your support will go a long way to help this great group continue to do great things for Webster.

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(posted 5/28/2023)

Poetry Trail planned for the Webster Arboretum

23 May

Two of my favorite things are coming together in a beautiful way next summer: poetry and the Webster Arboretum.

The Board of Directors of the Webster Arboretum has announced a new project to create a Poetry Trail winding through the grounds. Ron Friedman, a local resident and poet, presented the idea at the board’s April meeting, where it was enthusiastically embraced.

While the project is still very early in the planning stages, many exciting ideas are already being proposed. For example, poets or all ages from throughout the Finger Lakes would be invited, including students from elementary schools through college, and members of poetry and arts groups. Another idea is to make sure the poetry represents many cultures, peoples and languages, including ASL poetry.  

Friedman wrote,

The vision now includes signage installed around the trails in the arboretum with poems printed or engraved on wood, concrete, or other varied materials that can withstand Rochester weather year round. QR codes may be included so visitors will be able to access the poets reading their own poems. The signage may appear by the tree peonies, the gazebo and twisted white pine, around the pond, near the magnolias, the lace barks, the dogwoods, at the entrances to the foot bridges as well as back along the wood trails.

Friedman sees the project as an ongoing effort spanning years, as the trail can be expanded within the Arboretum and to other Webster parks as well.   

It will be a year before the Poetry Trail is completed. For now, committees are being formed to work on fundraising, creating poetry submission guidelines, publicity and installation. For more information about how you can help out and be a part of this exciting new project, email Ron Friedman at

The Webster Arboretum at Kent Park is located at 1700 Schlegel Rd. It’s open seven days a week, sunrise to dusk, and has several beautiful, easy-to-stroll trails. Click here to learn more. (Thank you to Ron Friedman for the photos below.)

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(posted 5/23/2023)

Luminary Walk honored the class of 2023

22 May

Thousands of Webster high school students, their families and friends enjoyed spectacular weather Sunday night at the Senior Luminary Walk, held at the Webster Recreation Center.

This annual event, sponsored by the Webster Thomas PTSA, Webster Schroeder PTSA and Webster Teachers’ Association (WTA), celebrates our graduating seniors with hundreds of luminary candle bags, placed along the entire length of the Chiyoda Trail, which almost completely encircles the Recreation Center property on Chiyoda Drive. Earlier in the day, 30 volunteers worked for an hour and a half to distribute about 900 of the twinkling bags, each one labeled with the name of a graduating Webster Thomas, Webster Schroeder or GOAL student.

At the beginning of the trail, students and their family members were greeted by the Webster Schroeder and Thomas mascots (available for photo ops) before they strolled along the almost mile-long trail. Enthusiastic teachers were stationed all along the path, cheering and congratulating the students as they passed. One family after another would pause periodically for photos, and sometimes the parents’ proud smiles were even bigger than the students’.

As the students returned to the Rec Center at the end of the walk, each was handed a lawn sign to display at their home — prompting even more proud-parent photos.

Anyone who attended after dusk got an extra special treat, as the entire trail was lined with white twinkly lights leading the way.

This is the third year the PTSAs and WTA have held the Senior Luminary Walk. It began back in 2021, when we were still hip-deep in the pandemic, and special events were being cancelled one after the other. The organizations wanted to do SOMETHING to make sure our seniors felt special and celebrated for their achievements. The Luminary Walk was perfect; a creative, socially-distanced way to honor them.

Back then, organizers expected it to be a one-time event. But it proved to be so successful, it came back by popular demand in 2022, then again this year. And judging from the crowds I saw Sunday night. it’s here to stay.

Many thanks to the teachers, students and parent volunteers who worked for hours Sunday afternoon and evening to place the bags along the path, string the twinkly lights and staff the sign tables, or who were just there to cheer on the students.

And congratulations to all the graduating seniors!

Click here to see more photos from the evening.

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(posted 5/22/2023)

A new trail and great news from the Friends of Webster Trails

21 May

The Friends of Webster Trails have made two exciting announcements recently which I want to share with you today.

The first is that the Friends are introducing a brand new trail, leading into the new Michael A. Johnson Nature Preserve, which was added to Webster open space in 2022. The wooded area is adjacent to the John Ungar Nature Trail, just north of the Hojack Trail between Drumm Rd. and Van Alstyne Rd. The Dombovy family donated funds for the purchase of the land in memory of their late husband and father, Michael A. Johnson.

The new loop trail created by the Friends leads off the Hojack Trail about 1/4 mile east of Drumm Rd.

Community members are invited to help dedicate the new trail, when the Friends of Webster Trails hosts a grand-opening group hike on Saturday morning June 3 at 9 a.m. Meet at the intersection of Drumm Rd. and the Hojack Trail at 9 a.m. From there, the group will hike to the entrance of the new Michael A. Johnson Trail. The total distance will be about 2 miles.

Parking is available at the Gosnell Big Wood parking lot at the intersection of Drumm and Vosburg. From there you can walk down Drumm Rd. to the Hojack Trail entrance on Drumm. Hiking boots or good sneakers are recommended.

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The Friends of Webster Trails also recently announced that the organization has received a $1000 grant from the Rochester Birding Association for their ReTree Project.

The Friends began the ReTree Project last year to address habitat loss, with a particular focus on trees. The project has two objectives:

  • to improve the ecological resiliency of forested habitat within the Webster Open Space area, and
  • to increase public knowledge of the threats to local forest ecology and ways we can collectively mitigate these risks

The project has especially focused on planting native tree species in areas where other native species have previously been lost or are currently under threat. The supplemental plantings will increase overall canopy cover while enriching the mix of tree species, age, and physical structure, resulting in a more robust and resilient ecosystem.

The Friends plan to use the funds to clear areas overgrown with invasive plants and to purchase native trees and shrubs and browse-protection materials in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve.

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(posted 5/21/2023)

Lots accomplished at Friends of Webster Trails’ first workday

24 Apr

If you’ve lived in Webster for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard about, or perhaps even hiked, our town’s beautiful trails. The system’s almost two dozen trails already stretch from the farthest corner of northwest Webster, south to 104 and east to Phillips Rd., and more are being created every year.

We have the Friends of Webster Trails to thank for this outstanding trail system. These hard-working volunteers put in thousands of hours every summer and fall planning, creating and maintaining the trails, clearing brush and invasive plants, laying gravel, building bridges and boardwalks, and more.

Every month, many of the group’s volunteers gather for a workday, spending several hours doing what needs to be done to make sure the trails are ready for hiking. The first workday of the 2023 season happened last Saturday April 15, and attracted 25 hard-working volunteers. I got this report from FWT’s communications chair John Boettcher:

There were three projects in the mix. One involved ditching along the Hojack Trail at Hard Rd. to improve drainage. This was moderately successful and very difficult. The other two projects involved pickup of trash along the Hojack Trail from Sexton Park east to Philips Road and the Hickory Bark Trail near the Webster Library. We schedule this early in the season before the vegetation can hide the trash.

Several hundred pounds of plastic, paper, and cardboard along with tires and pallet debris were collected. In addition to the Hickory Bark Trail, the area around the library was cleaned of debris and energy level remained so high that the troops even took care of the Western border of Hickory Bark woods along Hard Road between the library parking lot and the expressway feeder. Lots done!

A huge thank-you to all of the volunteers who joined the effort that day to keep our local trails looking beautiful.

If you ever find yourself enjoying our wonderful trail system, consider joining the Friends of Webster Trails. Check out the Friends of Webster Trails website, then consider dropping $10 for a single membership or $15 for a family. Your donation will go a long way to helping these fine folks help US enjoy our town’s natural beauty for years to come. (Or better yet, sign up to join a workday!)

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(posted 4/24/2023)

Thanks to all who made today’s scavenger hunt a success

22 Apr

Just a quick blog today to say THANK YOU to all of the families who came to Finn Park this morning to participate in the Family Scavenger Hunt co-sponsored by the Webster Health & Education Network, the Webster Recreation Center and the Friends of Webster Trails.

Several dozen families took advantage of some beautiful weather to have a little fun exploring the Finn Park trails. Thanks to the recent rainy weather, there were several wet and muddy spots, but that didn’t deter the 58 young participants, ages 2 through 11, from taking the half-mile or mile-long hike. (I might have encouraged most of them to splash in the mud as they went along.) The kids could choose one of three increasingly difficult scavenger hunts, each asking them to search for different natural elements along the path, like birds, moss and flowers.

The kids all returned from their quest with smiles on their faces and a real sense of accomplishment. And probably the best part of all is that the scavenger hunt raised $280 to benefit the Friends of Webster Trails, which will be put to good use improving the already terrific trail system we have in Webster.

I was particularly impressed with one family, who came armed with litter pick-up tools, and took it upon themselves to fill half a garbage bag with trash from along the trail.

Also many thanks to Julie Schillaci at Webster Parks and Recreation, Anna Taylor from the Friends of Webster Trails, and Emily Pettit for all their help pulling this event together.

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(posted 4/22/2023)

Webster community mailbag

30 Mar

The second annual Village of Webster Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Webster BID, is just around the corner, on Saturday April 8 at the Webster Fireman’s Field on Ridge Rd.

The absolutely free event will begin at 11 a.m., and is designed for children ages 10 and under. Children will be split into three age groups: 0-2, 3-5 and 6-10. Arrive any time after 10:30 a.m. Our local business owners and community agencies are preparing almost 5,000 eggs, so no fear — there will be enough for everyone. (And some eggs have a secret surprise.)

The Easter Bunny will be there, too, so bring your cameras! This great event is sponsored by the village’s Business Improvement District.

By the way, the organizers could use some volunteers to help set up and run the event. If you’re interested in having a little fun and helping out, click here to sign up!

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Those young Brownies from Troop 60344 are at it again.

They’re going to be outside the Webster Walmart Home entrance on Saturday April 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with their table of Girl Scout cookies. So no worries if you thought you’d missed out on Girl Scout Cookie season this year.

The girls will also be encouraging people to donate a box of cookies to the Blue Star Mothers NY8 chapter to be included in care packages for locally deployed troops. (The soldiers LOVE to get Girl Scout cookies.)

The Blue Star Mothers plan to send out more than 200 care packages soon, and would love to have a box of cookies to put in each one.

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The next Friends of the Webster Public Library book sale is quickly approaching!

The Friends’ Spring Book Sale will be held Wednesday April 26 through Saturday April 29. Gently used hardcover books will be available for only $1, paperback books will be $.50.

Members of the Friends can shop before everyone else, on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. If you’re not a member and want a sneak peek, memberships will be available at the door or on the library website.  

The general public sale will begin Thursday April 27 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Friday, April 28 is BYOB (bring your own bag) Bag Sale from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m, when you can fill a bag with gently used books for only $5. The bag sale continues on Saturday, April 29 but only from 10 a.m. til noon.

Proceeds from the spring book sale directly benefit library programs, book collections and other special projects.

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This notice from the Webster Central School District:

Applications for absentee ballots for the Webster CSD Annual Budget Vote and School Board Election are now available.

Qualified voters of the district who will be unable to attend the polls on the day of the vote may wish to use an absentee ballot. Voters must apply for the ballot in advance. Absentee ballot applications are available from District Clerk Cynthia Cushman, 119 South Avenue, Webster, phone (585) 216-0001, or at the news story on the district website.

All absentee ballot applications must be RECEIVED by the district clerk at least seven business days prior to the vote if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter, or the day before the vote if the ballot is to be picked up personally by or for the voter.

The Webster CSD Annual Budget Vote and election of Board of Education candidates takes place Tuesday, May 16, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Webster Schroeder High School gym, 875 Ridge Road.

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Here’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day this coming April 22: a Family Scavenger Hunt.

This easy hike/scavenger hunt will take place at Liberty Lodge/Finn Park on Maple Drive from 10 a.m. to noon. Different hunts will be available for three three skill levels, ages 2 through 12. The event will take place rain or shine, so dress for the weather, and make sure to wear boots if it’s been wet. It would also be helpful if you could bring your own clipboard and pencil.

The Family Scavenger Hunt costs $5, and registrations are being taken through the Webster Recreation Center. PLEASE register ahead of time so we know how many kids to expect. Payment can be made when you arrive at the park. Click here to register.

The Family Scavenger Hunt is being hosted by the Webster Health & Education Network (WHEN) in conjunction with the Friends of Webster Trails and Webster Recreation Center. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of Webster Trails.

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(posted 3/29/2023)

Webster community mailbag

27 Jan

I’d like to start off today’s mailbag with news of a neat little fundraiser sponsored by Webster Comfort Care. They’re calling it their “Souper Bowl,” and it’s a great way to supplement your Super Bowl party in a few weeks, while supporting an incredibly worthy organization.

For just $15, you can place an order for a quart of delicious soup, prepared by one of a half dozen local restaurants. Your choices are:

  • Jambalaya, provided by the Filling Station
  • White Chicken Chili, provided by the Chicken Coop
  • Chicken, Cheddar, Broccoli Jalapeno, provided by Temple Bar and Grill
  • Italian Wedding Soup, provided by Mama Lor’s
  • Tomato Bisque, provided by La Bella Vita
  • Clam Chowder, provided by Pub 235

For another $5, you can even add four breadsticks to your order.

Orders need to be made online by Feb. 5, and pick-up will be on Saturday Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon at Webster Presbyterian Church, 550 Webster Rd. Click here for more information and to order.

Most of the following announcements I grabbed from the Town of Webster weekly newsletter.

  • Our Town of Webster Highway Department is creating some additional parking at the Whiting Rd. Nature Preserve. The project should be completed by spring and will go a long way to relieve some of the crowding up there, which has required some hikers to park on busy Whiting Rd.
  • The Webster Recreation Center has a way to keep your kids busy during February Break. Their February Break Fun Camp will run from Tuesday through Friday Feb. 21-24, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and feature games, crafts, games in the gym and more. Cost is $185. To sign up, visit the Webster Parks and Recreation website and register for program #121006-A.
  • The Webster Association of Senior Program Supporters (WASPS) will be holding a Volunteer Training Class for anyone interested in helping provide transportation for residents to their medical appointments, salons, barbers and banks. The commitment is only about two hours a week. The first class will be held on Wednesday Feb. 1 at LifeSpan of Rochester. To learn more, visit the WASPS website.

A couple of fun Webster Public Library programs coming up:

  • The National Puzzle Day Puzzle Exchange takes place on Monday, Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is a great time to trade in some of your gently-used puzzles for something new to you. Bring as many as you want.
  • The annual Preschool Drive-in is happening this year on Tuesday Jan. 31 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The morning will begin with decorating the kids’ box cars, followed by a drive over to the community room to watch a short movie. You can even bring the car home. The program is open to children ages 2 to 5. Registration is required, and boxes (I mean, cars) are limited.
  • Also happening at the library on Tuesday Jan. 31, a showing of Top Gun: Maverick, playing on the big screen in the community room beginning at 1 p.m. Running time is about 130 minutes. All ages are welcome and no registration is required.

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

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(posted 1/27/2023)

Pumpkin Parade a spooky success

30 Oct

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

They weren’t lying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(posted 10/30/2022)

Enjoying a gorgeous autumn afternoon

25 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(posted 10/25/2022)