I know you’re out there, Ireland….

29 Mar

Thanks to the wonders of WordPress blog metrics, I can see a lot of information about my readers. The stats tell me some very general data about the most popular reading hours, how many people click on each post every day, even what site is referring them to the blog (Facebook or Google News, for example).

But it also tells me in broad terms what countries my readers are clicking in from. And this particular stat has got me to wondering of late.

Several times a week I get a click or two from Ireland, and that’s been puzzling me. Normally every day I’ll get one or two visitors from China or Thailand or Russia. I suspect these are spam. But the ones from Ireland? I think they’re legit. I’ve been there and met some people — even broke my arm in a karate dojo there — and am wondering if someone is checking up on my hometown based on those visits.

I know that Webster ex-pats regularly check in from Florida and California. But Ireland?

I know you’re out there. If you’re reading this, my friend in Ireland, let me know! And if you’re reading from elsewhere in the country or world, please let me know where you are and why you’re keeping tabs on Webster.

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Schlegel and Plank North staff members are running around the Great Lakes!

28 Mar

Well, not really. They’re talking virtually running, and it’s actually only around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. But still, it’s a pretty big challenge.

The event is being called the “Tour Around the Lakes,” a virtual race designed to promote teamwork and community, while encouraging everyone to get out and exercise and have a little fun.

The idea is based on the many virtual distance races that have been organized during the pandemic. In those, racers would track their daily miles over a period of several weeks in an effort to travel a pre-determined route — like, for example, from Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park or around the Ring of Kerry. For the Tour Around the Lakes, over the next 11 weeks, racers — working in teams of seven or eight — will try to log enough miles by running, walking or cycling to virtually circumnavigate Lakes Ontario and Erie, a distance of 1100 miles. Progress will be updated every week on the Tour Around the Lakes bulletin boards posted at each school.

The race began last Monday and will continue through June 11. Schlegel Rd. Elementary is fielding six teams, and Plank Rd. North has four. The competition was fierce from the start. It started heating up even before the race started when word got out that bonus points were being handed out for the first teams to come up with team names and photos. The schools will not be competing against each other, but only within their buildings … or at least that’s the plan right now. (An inter-school rivalry might be an extra incentive, however.) I expect much trash-talking will ensue.

The team names already show how much fun everyone is having. The Schlegel teams are Sole Sisters, Fueled by Caffeine, Chicks With Kicks, Ready for Anything, Not Fast Just Furious, and Are We There Yet? At Plank North the teams are Green and Bold, Sore Today, Strong Tomorrow, Heart and Sole, and Get Me an Uber.

The Tour Around the Lakes is similar to an event both schools participated in last spring, a virtual relay. For that challenge, everyone who wanted to take part first signed up for a half-hour relay “leg.” Then on one day April, you would run, walk or bike during your appointed time, and “hand off” the virtual baton to the next relay participant via a text or phone call.

It was a great way to keep staff members connected after the schools shut down in March. Everyone had a terrific time and appreciated having an excuse to get outside and get a little exercise. This year’s Tour Around the Lakes should be no different.

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A colorful way to celebrate our seniors

27 Mar

Our Webster Thomas and Webster Schroeder seniors this week were given a colorful surprise this week. Each one received a bag of Skittles with a note attached reading, “Hey Senior! There is a rainbow of possibilities in your future! Shine on!”

The recognition is part of an ongoing program designed by the Schroeder and Thomas PTSAs. Once a month through June, the PTSAs are surprising each senior with a fun gift or special event, planned for on or around the 21st of each month (in honor of 2021). The idea, wrote Webster Thomas PTSA representative Denise Warren, is “to show students that they are cared about so very much!”

Every 2021 graduate at Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, whether remote, hybrid, GOAL or other, is included. The program began in January, when each senior was presented with a small baggie of Hershey’s kisses, complete with an inspsirational message. You can read more about that special delivery in my blog here.

Judging from these photos from Ms. Castro’s and Mr. Hardy’s classes at Thomas, the effort was very well received.

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The Easter scavenger hunt is still on!

26 Mar
This hunter brought his own basket

Just a quick reminder today that you and your kids can still take part in the Easter-themed scavenger hunt being hosted by the homeowners on Curtice Park in the village.

The socially-distanced Easter-themed hunt was designed by Curtice Park resident Jennifer Cave. She heard about it from an email she received, and thought it would be a great way to give kids something fun to do, and help them get a little exercise.

Here’s how the hunt works: with scavenger hunt card in hand, participants walk up and down Curtice Park and look for different Easter pictures displayed in the houses’ front windows. Most of the homeowners are participating, so it should be easy to find a lot of pictures.

Last Saturday and Sunday, the first few days of the scavenger hunt, several neighbors even put some Easter treats at the end of their driveways for the kids. Jennifer was able to snap a few photos, and reported that she saw more than 40 kids walk by on the hunt.

Entire families came out for the hunt last weekend.

Just print off the scavenger hunt paper you see below and you’re good to go. The pictures will be up through Easter. This is a great activity for the kids on spring break!

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Traditional Irish evening of entertainment will include Barry’s this year

23 Mar

Every year, in commemoration the City of Rochester and County of Monroe’s proclamation of Irish American Heritage Month, several Rochester-area Irish cultural organizations come together to celebrate a traditional siamsa (shee-am-sah), or evening of Irish entertainment. In normal years, the event — which features a traditional Irish soda bread cooking demonstration, cultural music, dancing and historical stories — takes place at one location over a few hours.

This year, however, the annual event will be hosted in three different locations on Tuesday March 30, one of which will be the Village of Webster’s very own Barry’s Irish Pub.

Here’s the schedule:

  • 6 to 6:15 p.m., at Barry’s Old School Irish, 2 W. Main St., Webster: Soda Bread Making Demonstration. Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians member Sandy Foley will demonstrate how to make traditional Irish soda bread. Yes, there will be samples.
  • 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., at Johnny’s Irish Pub, 1382 Culver Rd., Rochester: Traditional Irish Music Session featuring Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (Irish Musician Association). Several members of the music organization will play some traditional Irish music.
  • 6:45 to 7:15 p.m., at McGinnity’s Irish Pub, 534 W. Ridge Rd., Rochester: Historical Presentation by Irish American Cultural Institute member and author Deirdre McKiernan-Hetzler. Her talk will highlight significant women in Irish and American history and their influence in the world.
  • 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. at McGinnity’s: Irish Step Dance Demonstration by Rince Na Saor’s Kathleen Whitfield.

In-person attendance at each event will be available in accordance with current guidelines. But each will also be streamed live on Zoom. Up to 500 guests will be allowed to register for the Zoom meeting. This is the Zoom link.

The program is sponsored this year by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, Irish American Cultural Institute, Rince Na Saor Irish dance, Barry’s Old School Irish Pub, Johnny’s Irish Pub, McGinnity’s Irish Pub, and the Monroe County Libraries.

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Free Food Stands are popping up in Webster and around the city

22 Mar

Just like Little Free Libraries, and most recently the Little “Puzzle” Library I wrote about a few weeks ago, Free Food Stands are popping up all over Webster and throughout the city, providing food and personal hygiene items to families in need. And one Webster family is doing its best to see that at least some of them never go empty.

Jamie Buss and her husband Mike first heard about the stands back in January and decided they wanted to help out.

“We went and filled one one day,” she said, “and saw the incredible need there was. We started promoting it on Facebook…. It was incredibly well received by our friends alone.” Donations started coming in, which allowed Jamie and Mike to start filling more and more pantries.

Right now there are 27 Free Food Stands scattered throughout Rochester, in the city as well as suburban towns including Greece, Penfield, Perinton and Phillips Village in Webster. Jamie and Mike fill six to eight of them every week, with donated items and ones they’ve purchased outright.

After a stop at the Public Market to purchase fresh produce, “We make a weekend of it,” Jamie said. “Every stand we fill on Sundays is empty when we get there.”

Jamie and Mike’s efforts received a huge boost recently when the food pantry project was taken under the wing of The Goodness Initiative, a Rochester-based grassroots organization which Jamie co-founded several years ago with Colleen Bedford. Now that the Goodness Initiative is involved, Jamie said, they hope to be able to expand the program even farther.

But they’ll need more volunteers and more donations to do that. This is where you come in.

Donations of food, toiletry and cleaning items are needed to keep the food stands stocked. Fortunately, there are a couple of easy, no-contact ways you can help out. For starters, check out The Goodness Initiative Facebook page for a wish list of needed items, and a list of where all the free food stands currently are located.

Now, here’s how you can help:

  • Purchase any items on the wish list and bring them to 839 Bridle Lane, Webster. There are bins on the front porch for contactless drop-offs 24/7.
  • Purchase items from their Amazon Wish List and have them delivered directly to them.
  • Make a monetary donation and they’ll purchase the items they need most. Click here for a paypal link.
  • Schedule your own donation drive! You can either drop the collected items off, or fill any of the listed stands on your own.

Rest assured, your donations will go where they are most needed. That might not be Webster (the Phillips Village pantry is often full), but as Jamie explains, that really shouldn’t matter.

“It’s a community effort of helping out your neighbors,” Jamie said. “When you see a need you fill that need. It doesn’t matter what stand you fill. As long as people are doing the work there are others that are not going hungry.”

“We are happy to drive all over to do the work, because all people are worthy of basic necessities, no matter their zip code.”

The Free Food Stand in Phillips Village is not the only Little Free Pantry in town. Four others, hosted by church congregations, are located at the Webster Baptist Church on South Ave, Immanuel Lutheran Church on West Main St., the United Church of Christ on Klem Rd., and St. Martin’s Church on Bay Rd. Like the Free Food Stands, these pantries encourage a “take what you need, leave what you can” philosophy.

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Village neighborhood hosts some Easter fun this week

19 Mar

Children — and adults — are invited to enjoy some socially-distanced Easter-themed fun this week, courtesy your Village of Webster neighbors on Curtice Park.

Curtice Park resident Jennifer Cave has designed a neighborhood scavenger hunt to celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday, give kids something fun to do, and help them get a little exercise (but don’t tell them about that part!). The idea is simple: with scavenger hunt card in hand, participants can walk up and down Curtice Park and look for different Easter pictures displayed in the houses’ front windows.

Jennifer writes that she got the scavenger hunt idea from an email she received and decided to do it in her neighborhood as well.

I thought, I want to do something fun for the kids who have had so much cancelled on them this year. With that said, I printed out pictures with a small explanation (for the neighbors) asking if they would hang a picture in their window to help make this Easter special. I wanted to respect everyone’s comfort levels, so I just put it in people’s doors and left. To my surprise there was a large turnout, over 75% of the houses put up pictures within a day or two.

On Saturday and Sunday, the first few days of the scavenger hunt, several neighbors even put some Easter treats at the end of their driveways for the kids. That idea came from one of Jennifer’s neighbors, and the idea quickly caught fire. A neighbor on a nearby street even donated some candy. But that’s the way Webster rolls.

I’ve been blown away by the support of my neighborhood and really hope to bring some joy to families. It doesn’t have to be just kids, if adults want to get some exercise and do the scavenger hunt I’d love to see that as well!

Just print off the scavenger hunt paper you see here and you’re good to go. The pictures will remain posted through Easter.

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Polar Freeze is coming to the village

18 Mar
This will be the new home for Polar Freeze, 16 West Main.

There aren’t a whole lot of details yet, but I’m pleased to help spread the news that Polar Freeze Ice Cream is coming to the Village of Webster!

I, for one, am very excited by this news. We need more ice cream in the village. Hank’s took their awesome ice cream with them when they closed several years ago. Webster Hots has tried to fill the void, but as far as I’m concerned, the more ice cream options in the village, the merrier.

Polar Freeze will be moving into the vacant storefront at 16 West Main St., across the street from The Coach.

It’s actually the second location for Bianca Cruz-Lopez and her husband Josue, who up until last summer owned and operated M. Sweet Retreat in East Rochester. They had to close that location, but by the looks of their Facebook pages, they never lost the desire to serve up small town sweet treats. We’re just lucky they decided to settle their new shop in Webster and not East Rochester.

Bianca and Josue are very excited to come to Webster. They’re planning to keep the same menu they had in East Rochester (apparently everyone loved it) and add some new items … like canoli ice cream (!) and sundaes.

Right now the new place doesn’t look like much, as Bianca and Josue work hard to refurbish and remodel (with the help of their children, offering building and business advice — check out the adorable Facebook video). Their goal is to open up mid-April, but we should know more in a few weeks.

So in the meantime, visit and “like” the Polar Freeze Facebook page to keep up on the latest developments. And just think about it — by summer we should be able to get dinner at the new restaurant, The Cobblestone on Main, then head across the street to Polar Freeze for dessert!

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The shows must go on!

16 Mar
A scene from the Webster Thomas Radio Play in January

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the creative ways our middle and high schools have come up with to stage their spring plays this year. Here is an update straight from the district:

COVID restrictions have created inherent problems for Webster CSD’s theater groups as they seek to share their love of theater with the community. But, as they say… The show must go on!

The first to tackle the challenge this school year was the Webster Thomas Drama Club. How did they overcome it? They created an original production that allowed performers to social distance. The Webster Thomas Radio Hour revives the feel of old-time radio shows of the 1940s; however, instead of listening in on a radio the Titans are inviting everyone to tune in on their electronic devices. Go online to News at websterschools.org to see “The Case of the Missing Mallets,” “The Adventures of the Time-traveling Athenians,” “The Return of Professor Z to the Planet of the Beyond,” “Murder on the Rochester Express,” and “Francis Fisher — Ghost Hunter.” The roughly two-hour production also includes student scripted sketches and commercials.

Spry Middle School Drama Club will also share their One Act Play Festival online after performing it live March 18-20 for studio audiences comprised mostly of family. The performance includes “Pajama Party,” “Four Little Words,” “Goldilocks on Trial,” and”Not so Grimm Tales.” Plus, soloists and small group ensembles will entertain the audience during intermission.

Once streaming of the One Act Play Festival becomes available, the district will announce it on its website and through its social media: Facebook (@WebsterCentralSchools) and Twitter (@WCSDProud). The same is true for Webster Schroeder Musicals’ upcoming production of the Addams Family.

Coming to Webster Schroeder High School April 23 and 24 for small audiences and live stream, The Addams Family is a creepy, kooky comedy musical about a ghoulish family that loves all things macabre. Daughter, Wednesday, has fallen in love with a “normal” boy that her parents have never met and who she secretly plans to wed. When the two families gather at for a get-to-know-one another dinner at the Addams’ home hilarity ensues.

As this time, Willink Drama Club is in the planning stages for a musical revue utilizing songs and dances from some of their past productions. Again, students will perform it for intimate audiences (mostly family), May 14 and 15, and then share it virtually.

I was pleased to be a part of the audience when Webster Thomas presented their production back in January. You can read that blog here.

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North Bee featured in Rochester-area magazine

14 Mar

The North Bee — specifically Amy Stringer, owner of The North Bee — is getting some well-earned recognition this month. She and her adorable little bee-inspired shop on North Ave. are featured in the March/April edition of the Rochester-based magazine 55 Plus.

The three-page feature, written by John Addyman, follows Amy’s life path, beginning with her 19-year career in accounting. It was later in life that she discovered beekeeping, which ultimately led to the decision to retire and devote herself full-time to her newfound passion for all things bees.

Amy has been a regular advertiser in 55 Plus‘s sister publication, Good Health Rochester, and the sales representative she works with is a customer. It was she who realized that Amy’s story would be a perfect fit for 55 Plus which, she said, likes to write about “second act” careers.

The article has already garnered a lot of attention. It hit the newsstands on February 28, and within a week, several of her customers mentioned they had seen the article. For some, it was their first visit to The North Bee.

55 Plus can be picked up for free at 1200 locations throughout the city, including any Wegmans. But I highly recommend you stop by The North Bee in person to grab your copy, and see what all the buzz is about (sorry).

The North Bee is located at 27 North Ave., across the street from the gazebo. And when you stop by, don’t think you’ll only find honey (although the honey variety will blow you away). There’s also a surprising variety of products made from or with beeswax, including wax rounds, beard balms, mini planters, vases and cups, small sculptures, elderberry syrup and jelly, propolis, paw balm for dogs, candles, body products and much more.

The North Bee is open Tuesday 4-7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out the website here and Facebook page here.

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