Ooooooo Lala!

28 Jul

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Lala of Webster has expanded, and the new place looks beautiful.

Owner Lisa Schlonski of Lala of Webster, a lovely gift shop and boutique at 38 East Main in the village, celebrated her grand opening last weekend, introducing her newly expanded space to the Webster community.

In business for just a little more than 18 months, owner Lisa doubled her space by expanding next door into the former Pickled Paintbrush shop, which unfortunately lost the pandemic economic battle a few months ago. Lala now has not just two, but three floors.

The shop’s two original spaces still look much the same, with a wide variety of gift items, jewelry and wellness products. But now with the added space, there’s a lot more room for everything, and more.

The new, adjacent room has a dedicated spot for local vendors (about 30 of them) and so many cute inspirational gift items (I bought a few myself). Upstairs is a ladies’ boutique with clothing and more jewelry, and a children’s room with baby items, toys and stuffed animals for all our young friends.

There are too many adorable things to mention here. You just gotta see it to appreciate it. I’ve always said that Lala is exactly the kind of shop we need here in Webster. I didn’t think it could get any better, but it sure did.

Lala of Webster is located at 38 East Main Street. For more information and hours, visit their website here or Facebook page here.

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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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St. Rita’s to host blood drive next week

24 Jul

blood-dropTwo opportunities to help save lives through blood donation are just around the corner.

The first is Thursday, July 30 at St. Rita Catholic Church, 1008 Maple Drive in West Webster.  The drive will run from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. To make your appointment, go to redcrossblood.org and search for sponsor code 9390nyp.

Cherry Ridge Assisted Living Community, 900 Cherry Ridge Blvd. (across from Webster Schroeder High School) will host a drive on Thursday Aug. 6, from 1 to 6 p.m. For this one, search for sponsor code cherryridgecommunitycenterrochester.

As you can imagine, the Red Cross is in desperate need of whole blood and platelet donations right now, so please consider donating.

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Webster Public Library reveals a hidden treasure

22 Jul

The Webster Public Library has posted a new video in their “Let’s Explore Webster!” series. This one highlights the Hickory Bark Trail,  which I consider one of Webster’s best-kept secrets.

The trail is located in a 10-acre stand of woods across the parking lot from the front door of the library on Van Ingen Drive. It’s a beautiful, albeit short walk (only 400 feet), along a boardwalk ending in a spacious deck with plenty of benches.

I could tell you more about the trail, but I’ll let Laureen and Doreen from the Public Library do that:

This is a great video. But unfortunately, it was created before the fairies moved inso Doreen and Laureen didn’t happen to mention them.

That’s right, FAIRIES.

When you’re walking along the boardwalk, make sure to keep your eyes peeled, because four fairies and a gnome have taken up residence. Look closely and you might see their little homes tucked at the base of several trees along the walk.

But make sure to stay on the boardwalk, because there’s lots of poison ivy around, too.

And if your young kids really like to look for and help out the fairies, show them the library’s Digital Escape Rooms. The easiest one, designed for preschoolers, leads them through several easy puzzles to help the fairies (who all live along the Hickory Bark Trail) get out of their houses. The other two escape rooms are for tweens, teens and adults.

Jason and HaroldBy the way, if you’d like to learn more about how the Hickory Bark Trail came to be, check out this link to this column I wrote about it for the Democrat and Chronicle, which tells about how Harold Krieger saw it to completion in honor of his wife.

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Adult Summer Online Programs 2020There’s so much more going on at the library right now, too, including several online, Zoom-based programs for adults (click on the flyer on the left for a sneak peek). And don’t forget, the library is actually open for business; stop by and check out your next summer read.

The Webster Public Library is located at the back side of Webster Plaza, 980 Ridge Rd. They’re open Monday and Wednesday 9 to 5, Tuesday and Thursday 11 to 7, and Friday 9 to 1.

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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!

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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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Some encouraging Webster Village business news

21 Jul

In a time when small businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, comes some very happy and encouraging local business news.

lala of webster

For starters, Lala of Webster, a beautiful little gift shop and boutique located at 38 East Main St., has not only weathered the pandemic storm but is expanding.

In business for just a little more than 18 months, owner Lisa Schlonski will be expanding next door into the former Pickled Paintbrush shop, which unfortunately lost the pandemic economic battle a few months ago. Renovations are almost complete, and when they’re done, the much larger space will feature not just two, but three floors.

In addition to the shop’s already wide variety of gifts and wellness products, the newly expanded shop will feature a dedicated ladies’ boutique on the upper level with clothing, jewelry, handbags and more, a children’s and baby room, and more than 500 new items.

Lisa will continue to support about 30 local vendors as well, with products (including masks) now all concentrated in one “shop local” area.

A good time to check out the new shop is during Lala’s Grand Opening this Friday and Saturday July 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In celebration, Lisa is offering a 25% discount on products both days of the grand opening (exclusions will apply).

I asked Lisa straight up how it is she was able to not only survive the storm, but come out even stronger. She wrote,

I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of owning a shop. So many customers kept asking if I was going to reopen, so I knew there was interest in what I had to offer, which was the fuel I needed to look past the short term and focus on the long term.

Also, an opportunity presented itself with the availability of the space next to me. I gave it some serious thought and decided why not? If it doesn’t work out I can at least say I tried. I look forward to the upcoming holidays and trying new things and ways to engage with my customers, in the shop and online.

That attitude pretty much sums up the philosophy which Lisa has brought to her shop. After all, “LaLa” stands for “Laugh and Love Always.”

Find out more about Lala of Webster here on their Facebook page.

quilt shoppe

Since we’re talking about new-ish village businesses, I’m happy to pass along the news that The Village Quilt Shoppe will be celebrating its first anniversary the week of August 4 through 8.

This little shop, at 21 East Main St., has become near and dear to my heart, and not only because owners Monique and Vanetta are wonderful people. They have faced some unique challenges trying to keep their dream business afloat, including dealing with a flood from the apartment above them. And during the early weeks and months of quarantine, when their shop was closed, they still went in regularly to coordinate an effort by their customers to make face masks for medical personnel.

So stay tuned for more information about this anniversary, then let’s all pop in and show them some love — whether we’re quilters or not.

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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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WVFD helps a little girl’s dream come true

18 Jul
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Vivian, in her dad’s arms, and her brother Deaglan, watch the parade approach

Get ready. This story is going to hit you right in the feels.

Little Vivian Dooher, a child with special needs, only wanted a few simple things to celebrate her 4th birthday. She wanted to ride a real tractor on a real farm, she wanted to eat the Saturday dinner from one of her favorite books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar*, and she wanted to have a sleepover with her two older brothers.

But perhaps more than anything else, Vivian wanted a birthday car parade to pass by her house, complete with a fire truck and lots of lights and sirens.

A few months ago, Vivian had seen one of those birthday parades, and ever since had been advocating for one of her own. Still mostly nonverbal, she repeatedly made her wishes known by signing “firetruck” and “birthday.”

Arranging for the tractor ride was easy enough, thanks to the kindness of a farmer on

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Vivian got her tractor ride thanks to the folks at the Holt Rd. Family Farm. 

Holt Rd., and the dinner and sleepover wouldn’t be a big deal. Getting the fire truck parade, however, proved to be a bit more difficult.

Kim, Vivian’s mother, called anyone she could think of who had any connection to a police department, ambulance corps, even a K-9 officer. “Everyone, every single one, said we can’t do it anymore.” 

In a last ditch effort, she left an impassioned voicemail for the Webster Volunteer Fire Department, explaining how this was her daughter’s dream, and asking if there was any way they could help. 

But even they turned her down, albeit very apologetically. They don’t do these parades anymore, either, they explained. The sheer volume of requests would be very difficult to manage.    

But then Chief Rob Boutillier heard about the voice mail and realized this was a very special young lady and a very special request. He gave the thumbs-up, and the parade was scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Kim expected only one fire truck to show up, perhaps two, and several friends and relatives. She did not expect the astounding display of love that would stream by her house that morning.

There was a fire truck for sure, with lights and sirens blazing. But it was followed by almost a dozen other first responder vehicles, representing the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Webster Police, Webster EMS and more. And leading the way was WVFD Assistant Chief Andrew Vorndran.

Vivian, who sat in her father’s arms for the entire parade, clearly enjoyed the spectacle. Kim was downright overwhelmed.

Due to her medical issues Vivian is immunocompromised, Kim explained, so the family couldn’t have a “normal” birthday party.

“We can’t have people here and so I really wanted to give her the birthday of her dreams,” Kim said. “(The WVFD) have gone above and beyond to provide that for her. The Firemen’s Parade is her favorite time of year, and this is like her own personal Firemen’s Parade.”  

“I think she would have been OK,” if she didn’t get her firetruck, “but this is like the frosting on the birthday cake to have her dream actually come true.”

“I really can’t say enough about the fire department for doing this for us,” she continued. “They’ve always been good to our family. We go to the Halloween event every year and they let the kids climb on the trucks, and they’re amazing. They care about our community and they care about kids.” 

“It means so much to me to make her birthday wish come true and care that much about a young child in our community. Especially in the setting of this pandemic when we can’t have any sort of party. This is better than a party, this is her actual dream coming true.”

Here are some more photos from the event:

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 *(For anyone who doesn’t remember The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Saturday the caterpillar ate a piece of chocolate cake, an ice cream cone, a pickle, a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of salami, a lollipop, a piece of cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake, and slice of watermelon. Then he got a stomach ache. Let’s hope Vivian doesn’t.)

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The parade that wasn’t

17 Jul
carnival

Memories from a previous carnival. The event is the WVFD’s biggest fundraiser; read below to see how you can help fill the gap. 

Yesterday was one of those good news/bad news kind of days.

The BAD news, of course, is that for the first time in, like forEVER, the annual Webster Fireman’s Carnival had to be cancelled. Last night would have been the second night of the carnival, and a favorite one for many of us because Thursday always begins with the huge parade.

The GOOD news (if you choose to look at it that way) is that if the carnival HAD been happening, last night’s heavy rains probably would have caused the parade to be cancelled anyway, and would have made a miserable night for the carnival.

The BAD news is that the heavy rains also caused Lori Allen and her family to reschedule their plans to celebrate the parade-that-wasn’t.

The plan was to set up their parade-watching chairs in front of their East Main St. house as they always do on parade day (actually a few days before parade day), and during the normally scheduled parade time, they were going to hand out flags and encourage drivers to honk on their way by.

This is what Lori posted 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 think 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.

It’s understandable that the heavy rains drove them inside as well, but Lori did post an update saying they’ll do something at a later date to make up for it.

Missing out on the fun is disappointing, but so is missing out on this extra opportunity to help our local first responders. Our Webster volunteer firefighters are as bummed about the carnival as everyone else. From the Carnival Facebook page:

To our friends and neighbors,

We hope this finds you well. While today just does not have the same feeling for us as it usually does with the Carnival being cancelled, we will all get through this and look forward to next year.

As you know Carnival is our largest fundraiser of the year. We know that current world events have had a varying impact on each and every one of you. If you are able to and would like to donate to the Webster Volunteer Fire Department please visit: http://www.donatewvfd.org.

As always we thank you for your support and will be here if you ever need us. Stay safe and see you in 2021!

If you’d rather send a check, please 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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More cheerfulness in the neighborhoods

13 Jul

You may recall a few weeks I posted a blog titled “Finding Cheer Amid Adversity,” in which I encouraged everyone to look around while we’re walking or cycling, and see some of the fun, creative and beautiful things in our communities.

My list that day included yarn creations wrapped around trees, a fairy garden, and an aggressive lawn Zoomba. Today I’d like to add a few more to that list.

This first one is a nice segue from my recent blog about Little Free Libraries. I saw this one on a bike ride yesterday morning which took me down Apple Orchard Lane on the north side of town. It’s especially creative, with an actual chalkboard so people could leave notes. It looks like some children had a hand in its construction, so, well done!

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Next, on a bike ride around my neighborhood a few days ago, I came across this sign posted to a tree which caused me to come to a complete stop.

It tells the story of the “Teddy Bear Hunt,” an effort begun during the pandemic which has spread all around the country. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. The idea is that homeowners put teddy bears in their windows, and kids can “go on a bear hunt,” walking through their neighborhoods in search of the elusive teddies.  Remember when we were all encouraged to put up rainbows in our windows for kids to find? It’s kind of like that.

Click closer into this photo and you can read the story for yourself. (And take a closer look at the other photo to see the bear in this home’s front window.) You can also click here for an article I found in the New York Times.  If you run up against a paywall and can’t read the article, simply Google “Teddy Bear Hunt” and you’ll find several others.

Now, get your bear and let’s all be part of the hunt!

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