Letters to Santa

24 Dec

Many of you know that I have a direct line to the North Pole. Santa and I are kind of on a first-name basis.

His name is Santa Jim, and he’s Webster’s resident head-elf, appearing at functions all over town, in both winter and summer. He’s also been the Eastview Mall Santa for years.

I got to know Jim when I interviewed him for my East Extra column three years ago. I have since come to know him as a kind, generous soul, befitting his alter-ego. So I wasn’t surprised when he emailed me a few days ago, saying,

Each morning when I arrive at the Eastview Mall Santa site I empty the Santa Mail box that sets next to the big chair. I usually sit for a few minutes before work and read a few of the letters the children have given to Santa from the day before with all their Christmas wishes and hopes. … They are so cute.  

Santa Jim the kind elf thought of me as he was reading those letters, and packaged up several of them for me to look at, and share with my readers. He wrote,

There isn’t anything special in them. It’s just a peek into the hearts, minds and eyes of these precious little children who truly believe in Santa Claus.

But they are special. Some were typed on a computer, others were fill-in-the blank forms that looked like they were done in school. Others were neatly printed, and a few were clearly penned by the parents, with the child providing a scribbled signature. Many had multi-colored words, holiday sketches and portraits of Santa.

They asked for a lot of the “hot” toys, like Hatchimals and Legos, but more than one requested that Santa make sure that other children in need would have their wishes fulfilled. One child had slipped “dad to be happy” on his list in between a Fitbit and an X-box controller. And a few of them asked after Rudolph.

Here are some of the things the children wrote:

  • Dear Santa, I’m writing for my little brothers. The boys have been perfect angels except for their non-sleeping-at-night-ness. 
  • I want some makeup PLEAS. And Santa ALL the kids are counting on you! 
  • Please have the elves pick me something nice! 
  • I would love it if for Christmas I could have a drone. You know, the things you fly with a remote-control. I would love for it to have a camera, but I totally understand if it’s too big and expensive. 
  • Good presits for the por. Good presits for my family and evrey body els. eny thing you thingk I wod like.

Thank you, Santa Jim, for reminding us what it was like when believing in Santa Claus was one of the best things about Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all my readers. May it bring you simple joys and happiness.

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A day of remembrance

24 Dec

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Today is a day of mourning in Webster. Today marks the 5th anniversary of the morning we lost two of our local heroes, West Webster firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, when a madman took their lives as they rushed to put out a fire on Lake Road.

As you celebrate the holiday today and tomorrow, hold your family close and hug them a little tighter. And don’t forget to say “I love you.” Then say a prayer for Thomas, Mike and their families.

Here’s the link to a video the D&C put together from the service held this morning at the Lake Road memorial.

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Here we go a’caroling…

20 Dec

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The streets of Webster were alive with the sound of music earlier this week as two separate groups strolled the neighborhoods, caroling at businesses and houses along the way.

The first of the musical meanderings took place Monday night, when BID president Robyn Whittaker hosted almost 30 friends, business acquaintances and assorted other local residents on her second annual village caroling party.

And a party it was. Participants first gathered at The Coach, where Robyn had provided plenty of soda, beer, hot cider (spiked if you wanted to) and pizza. When 7 p.m. rolled around, everyone filed out of the pub, and that took a while because there were about 30 of us. First stop was for a group photo in front of the Coach. Then it was off to do some singing.

The stops were pretty much determined on the fly, depending on what businesses were open and what homes seemed to be occupied. In about an hour, the tuneful group had visited the Webster Barbershop, Rubino’s, Brimont Bistro, and about a dozen homes. The business owners were tolerant; some of the homeowners were hesitant to come out, but most others happily stood on their cold porches — occasionally with small babies or children in tow — to enjoy the music.  But no matter who the group was singing for (or not singing for), the enthusiasm and the singing never waned, continuing even as everyone walked from house to house on the streets and sidewalks.

The very next evening, I joined the Chorus of the Genesee for their annual Soup & Carol Night. Unlike Robyn’s event, which is brand new, the Chorus has been hosting this evening of caroling for at least 24 years. There were also a whole lot more people at this event. I counted about 60 men, women, children and dogs. I was told that it was more than double what the Chorus usually draws. It helped, I think, that the weather was pretty pleasant.

Everyone gathered at the Harmony House, enjoying coffee and cookies, sheets of music and Santa hats were handed out, and when 7 p.m. rolled around, everyone filed out into the street.

The first stop, as it has been every year, was Webster Eyecare Associates, which is pretty much across the street from the Harmony House. The folks there have come to expect this annual visit by the Chorus carolers, and this year — for the first time — had donut holes and hot chocolate for the chilly singers.

I hope you had a chance to enjoy, or even participate in, one or both of these caroling events. This is what small-town life is all about.

This is truly Webster.

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Garlic Fest checks presented

20 Dec
Miracle Field

Representatives from the Webster Garlic Festival and the Kiwanis Club present a check to Miracle Field for $2,000. Miracle Field would also received an additional $14,000 from this year’s proceeds. 

I was honored to be present last Saturday when representatives from the Webster Garlic Festival distributed the proceeds from this year’s festival to three very deserving local agencies.

As in the previous two years, the festival’s three organizing agencies — the Rotary Club, Lions Club and Kiwanis — planned to donate the majority of the proceeds to Challenger Miracle Field.  In addition, however, this year each club also chose a different community agency to receive a check.

So, on Saturday morning, Hope Ministry received $2,000 from the Rotary Club; the Webster Community Chest received $2,000 from the Lions Club; and Miracle Field received $2,000 from the Kiwanis Club.

Following that presentation, representatives from all three clubs presented Miracle Field chairman Ron Kampf with an additional check for $14,000.

The Webster Garlic Festival has grown quite a bit from its first year in 2015, when it poured pretty much nonstop for both days. In the last three years it has become one of the town’s most popular festivals, and has raised $43,5000 for local charities.

Organizers are looking for more volunteers to help the festival continue to grow. Planning has already begun, so if you’re interested in lending a hand, contact Richard Comins at recomins @frontiernet.net.

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Holiday fun at the elementary schools

19 Dec

Holiday time at the elementary schools is always a fun time for both students AND staff

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Schlegel Road teacher Bill Ambler the Jolly Elf. 

members. And since I have the pleasure of working in two different elementary schools, that fun is kind of doubled.

On Monday I was at Schlegel Road Elementary, where silly outfits were the order of the day. We also enjoyed a  concert by the Webster Show Choir, comprised of outstanding vocalists and dancers from both Schroeder and Thomas high schools. I was told that it was the first time in 16 years the choir had visited Schlegel.

Later that afternoon, Show Choir traveled to Plank Road North later that afternoon for another performance. Here are a few photos from that concert, courtesy Sarah Rosenberry:

I’m not sure the link will work, but try clicking here to see some video from that concert.

And here’s some icing for the holiday cake: A holiday video created by Schlegel Road staff members. Click here to see it. It’s kind of fun.

video slide

 

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The Knuckleheads celebrate another anniversary

16 Dec

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The Knuckleheads are having a birthday party, and the entire beer-loving public is invited.

Knucklehead Craft Brewing turns three years old this month, and they’re planning an appropriate celebration, complete with a special brew, treats from their kitchen and live music.

The party takes place on Saturday December 23 from 3 p.m. till midnight. There’ll be a special food menu, featuring house-roasted sirloin on fresh kimmelweck rolls topped with horseradish aioli. Live music will be provided by Marty Roberts and Donny C. from 7:30 till 11:30 p.m.

Knucklehead’s award-winning Tainted Haze IPA will be on tap, and one of the pub’s most decadent beers will make its annual return for the party: their Russian Imperial Stout.

Webster’s own craft brewery has grown up a lot since it opened in 2014. They updated their kitchen and expanded their menu, added lots of great merchandise, more equipment to streamline their brewing process, more staff, and regular live music.

Check it all out for yourself at Knucklehead Craft Brewing’s third year anniversary party, Saturday December 23 from 3 p.m. to midnight, and wish the Knuckleheads a happy birthday!

Knucklehead Craft Brewing is located at 426 Ridge Road, at the corner of Bay. Check out their webpage here at and their Facebook page here. They’re open Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 to 11 pm, and Sunday 2 to 7 p.m., and the kitchen is open every day.

flights

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Blood drives will honor Jack Heiligman

15 Dec

posterTwo blood drives coming up next week in our area are being held in memory of 3-year old Jack Heiligman.

Jack, you may remember, lost his life in a tragic accident in 2016.  Since that awful day, Jack’s parents Anne and AJ have worked hard to keep their son’s happy spirit alive by spreading laughter, happiness and love to other families, and encouraging others to pay it forward.

They work through the JACK Foundation, an organization they created, dedicated to giving back to the community through acts of kindness. The foundation also raises money to build dinosaur-themed playgrounds. Their first playground, Jack’s Place, opened at Rothfuss Park in Penfield last August 2017.

This holiday season, one of the ways the JACK Foundation is giving back to the community and promoting acts of kindness is by hosting two blood drives in Jack’s memory. These will be held on Thursday, December 21 at Kent Park Arboretum in Webster and Friday, December 22 at the Penfield Community Center.

“The JACK Foundation has really helped keep Jack’s memory alive for our family and friends,” Anne said. “We miss our Jack every moment of every day, but being a part of caring and kind acts in Jack’s name has helped bring us peace and comfort. We hope we are making our Angel Jack proud.”

The two drives are especially significant at this time of year, near the holidays, when blood and platelet donations often decline due to everyone’s busy schedules. Here are the details:

Thursday, December 21, 2-7 p.m.
Kent Park Arboretum
1700 Schlegel Rd., Webster

Friday, December 22, 2-7 p.m.
Penfield Community Center
1985 Baird Rd., Penfield

As a thank you for showing your support for these special blood drives, all presenting donors will receive a Red Cross long-sleeved t-shirt, while supplies last.

Appointments are appreciated and will help you get in and out faster, but walk-ins are also welcome. To make an appointment, log onto redcrossblood.org or download the blood donor app. Please use sponsor code JACKFOUNDATIONWEBSTERPENFIELD.

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The pharmaceutical waste box is back!

15 Dec

got-drugs-2I don’t often have to go to Webster Town Hall for business, but I did frequent take advantage of the pharmaceutical waste drop box near the entrance to the police department. So I really missed it when the Town Hall was undergoing renovations.

The good news is, now that the Town Hall renovations are (mostly) done, the drop box is back, and open during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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.

If you do not feel comfortable with your personal information on the bottles, you can remove the pills and put them in a plastic bag for disposal.

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Local karate school hits the ice with the Amerks

14 Dec

 

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Matsunami karate students Cristine Norton, RJ Barnard, Ryan Moorman, Pepper Parrinello,  and Rick Parrinello

Well, that headline  might be a bit misleading.

What actually happened, Monday night, is that a handful of students from Matsumani Karate in Webster performed a short demonstration of skills during the second intermission of the Amerks hockey game.

The demo took place right at center ice, on a large rug rolled out by the Amerks grounds-keepers (ice-keepers?). Matsunami co-owner Rick Parinello began the demo with a kata (form), and then for the next several minutes, played the part of a bully and allowed 10-year old purple belt RJ Barnard throw him to the ground several times.

Pretty hard, too. I’m sure Rick appreciated having the carpet.

Three other Matsunami representatives watched from the edge of the mat while the action took place.

It was a short but very impressive demonstration, judging from the loud applause from  the crowd when it was done.

In addition to these photos, you can access a video of the “bully” part of the demonstration by clicking here.  (At least I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to access it.)

(Full disclosure: this is the school where I teach.)

 

 

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News from the Village Band and Filling Station

13 Dec

Just a few quick notes on this very snowy and cold this morning.

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The Webster Village Band hosted its 50th annual holiday concert at Webster Thomas High School on Saturday, capping off another wonderful season of music for our dedicated village musicians.

In the photo, band director Tom Indiano stands with associate director Sue Siegmund (L) and manager Marcia Naukum (R), each with 45 years of dedicated service. Missing from this photo are Mary Crockett and Ralph Zimmer, who both have 50 years of continuing service.  Congratulations to all!

Band rehearsals for next season resume in March. The  band meets on Thursday evenings from 7-9, with venues at various Webster Central Schools per availability.

The band is always looking for more community members to join their musical family.  All interested musicians are invited to be a par of the band’s next 50 years. Interested persons may contact Harvey Cohen at hcohen@rochester.rr.com or by phone at 585-738-6980.

Update on the Filling Station

I was notified the other day that the schedule for opening the new Filling Station Pub and Grill at 77 East Main Street has been delayed a bit. They’re still hoping to get everything finished by the end of the year, but now it might not be until January.

The wait will definitely be worth it, however. Front-end manager Wendy Antes has been sending me photos of some of the installations. Here’s one of the incredibly beautiful bar.

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Stay tuned!

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