Port Washington Youth Activities (PYA) held its 25th Annual Hall of Fame dinner dance at the North Hempstead Country Club recently. More than 250 participants attended the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year, which serves as the culmination of PYA’s sports year. That evening, PYA honored Chris Callahan and John “Pepe” Salerno (in memoriam). Both of these men, in their own ways, have helped to solidify and grow the organization which had its beginnings in 1963. [Read more…]
The Port Washington Play Troupe performed Guys and Dolls, Frank Loesser’s classic musical comedy, this summer at Landmark on Main Street’s Jeanne Rimsky Theatre to sold-out crowds. Founded in 1927, the Port Washington Play Troupe is New York State’s oldest chartered amateur theater company.
The show was directed by Brian E. Long with musical direction by David Barnett. Pam Meadows was the executive producer, with help from her team, Tim Lavelle as technical producer, Robert Gold as company producer and Stacey Jawitz as business producer.
The talent that the entire cast demonstrated was at a highly professional level without exception. Of particular note were the flawless performances by leads Karen Santaromita (Sarah Brown), Michael Santora (Sky Masterson), Carrie Heffernan (Miss Adelaide) and Vincent LoRusso (Nathan Detroit). Their voices, stage presence and dramatic and comedic timing were truly captivating.
This year’s summer show was dedicated to the memory of Ron Meadows. For decades, he was the driving force who kept Play Troupe growing stronger each year. His guidance, strength and caring support are the inspiration for the current revival of so many traditional Play Troupe activities.
Many organizations and individuals helped make the show such a huge success. Special thanks goes to the Peter & Jeri Dejana Family Foundation and grant administrator Jim Avena for underwriting a sizable portion of production costs.
The Port Washington Play Troupe presents multiple performances through the year. The fall season features the recreation of Orson Welles’ spine-chilling classic, War of the Worlds. This live performance is being presented on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. at Hillwood Recital Hall, Tilles Center at LIU Post. A simulcast will air on WCWP 88.1FM LIU radio. Go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/800495 for tickets.
Port’s class of 1970 celebrated its 45th reunion and renewed lifelong friendships here in Port last weekend. Of the 500-plus students that graduated that year, more than 100 reconvened, starting off with a tour of Schreiber generously led by Assistant Principal Dave Miller.
The “kids” relived the joy of school ties, St. Peter’s nostalgia, memories of the important events of the late 1960s. Memories also included the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, Apollo 13 and Woodstock. Last weekend in Port, it was the ‘Summer of Love’ all over again. Mark Furth, Greg Decker and Roger Weaver mentioned their favorite 1970s bands: Chicago, Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Diamond, The Doors. George Oestreich remembers seeing Bruce Springsteen at My Father’s Place, a former Roslyn music venue. Back then, Liz Daly and this writer caught (pre-Piano Man) Billy Joel at the Knotty Knee, also in Roslyn. Katie Nolan proudly wore her original Alpha Omega zip jacket, from the days when there were sororities at Schreiber.
Restauranteur Gillis Poll welcomed all the arrivals Friday night at Bar Frites in Wheatley Plaza for a social warm up to the weekend. Grads from as far away as Thailand, Washington State, California, Ohio and Pennsylvania arrived.
One highlight was a Saturday softball game on Campus Drive, where Melissa (Missy) Mendelsohn leapt up to snag an amazing catch, nixing what would have definitely been a grand slam. Star slugger Frank Pirolo and Coach Russell Gilbert organized the game, Jimmy Fergeson provided the drinks, ice and pizza. Many out-of-towners were thrilled with good “Port” pizza. More ball players were Janet Palmer, Carol White, cheerleader Gail Smith, Neil Gebhart, Dave Brackett, Roger Weaver and Steve Leigh, who just bought a place back in Port, because, “I love it here.”
Glen Andersen and his mother, Rosaria Frances Andersen were in the stands when she confirmed, “I’ll see you at the next one!” Also in the stands were cheerleader Chrissy Pisciotta, Rose Picardi, Chris Convey, Marcey Mougey and more.
Melissa Mendelsohn said, “There’s nothing like the feeling of safety, of our childhood, when it comes to friendships.” Steffenie Oliver remembered playing softball here in seventh grade.
Hendrick’s Tavern in Roslyn was hopping to the sounds of the ’60s and ’70s DJ as the class partied late Saturday night. Many reconnected, sitting at tables enjoying the updates of children and, yes, grandchildren. There were happy memories and sad ones, too, remembering the classmates who were no longer with them. Congratulations go to the winners of “met in Port and longest marriage”: Joanie Frappaolo and Rich DeMeo. A very close second were cheerleader Laurie Gunther and Doug Moore.
Heaps of appreciation goes to the organizing committee of Linda Papsidero, Melissa Mendelsohn, Dot Wilson, Dee Dee Hatcherian, Janet Palmer and Steve Leigh. They have organized great reunions over the decades; the last one was five years ago. The Schreiber class of 1970 is clearly blessed with amazing, caring, loving classmates. They are all asking, “When’s the next one?” When it happens, you’ll hear about it.
With a few weeks of summer left to go, the kids in Port Washington continue to enjoy their summer by hitting some golf balls. At Harbor Links, there’s plenty of fun for kids as they learn to play on the golf course.
Harbor Links Golf, in its 15th year, holds two ongoing summer programs that run till late August. The first one ranges from ages 6 to 9, meeting four times a week. The second program is for ages 10 to 16 years old, meeting up five times a week. They also offer a fall and spring program, which features six weeks of instructional play.
James Hong, who is the director of junior programs, is among seven staff members on hand. Hong keeps the groups at about seven students per instructor. “What’s nice about it is we keep the groups small so all the kids get a lot of individual attention,” said Hong. “It’s a lot of fun and they have a good time.”
Hong, who had played in college, has an impressive teaching resume. He was named 2014 GRAA Top 50 Teacher in America, 2012 U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Lifetime Master Teacher and was nominated for Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers List. He has been teaching the game of golf for 20 years.
Although Hong hopes that the kids can take the game seriously, he also stressed that it is okay to have fun with it as well. His advice is to enjoy both aspects because golf can be a difficult sport. “You have to enjoy the tough times because it is the most frustrating thing you’ll ever go through,” said Hong. “If you can handle that and really love the game you are trying to be better at, then you’ll be successful in whatever you do.”
What keeps campers coming back to the program is the close relationships the instructors form with the children. From the small groups to the repeat campers, instructors establish strong connections with their students and care for their wellbeing. Many of the students go through several levels of development. Many of the students come to the program through high school.
Although the objective is teaching kids how to play golf, at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun. The staff is constantly trying to incorporate new ideas on how to continue to let the kids enjoy themselves on the green. “You can tell when the children really enjoy it (a new activity) when they ask if they can do this again,” said Hong. “Then we keep it in the rotation. That’s our number one goal.”
To learn more about programs
at Harbor Links, go to www.harbor
The first day of school is now just around the corner, and the fall football season is about to begin. The Port Washington Youth Activities’ (PYA) football programs have also kick-started their fall registration process for the upcoming year.
PYA football programs will begin Sept. 13.
PYA hosts its tackle football and flag football programs at Lion’s Field on Glen Lane in Port Washington. The programs are open to Port Washington residents as well as those from Manhasset.
PYA’s flag football programs range from grades 2 to 5 while the senior tackle football program caters to grades 5 and 6.
The organization looks to grow its tackle program and help the youth of Port Washington and Manhasset prepare for the middle school football level of play. At this age, they learn how to properly tackle and understand the fundamentals and mechanics of the game.
“We feel that we have extremely talented players who can hang with any community on Long Island,” said Program Director Brandon Kurz.
Tackle football was always a big draw at PYA, just like its baseball
and basketball programs, where teams in the program competed against one another.
Unfortunately, with the rise of the number of concussions in tackle football, the number of players participating in the sport has declined recently. However, the numbers have increased dramatically in PYA’s flag football program.
“I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but it’s certainly happening,” said Kurz. “We want to be able to grow with the times.”
PYA’s flag football program is spearheaded by Howie Golan, while Ron Rochester and Wes Rudes helm the tackle football program. All their expertise and contributions to PYA have played a part in the success of both football programs.
While tackle is a contact sport, flag football is geared towards learning the basics. Flag football can be just as exciting, though.
“Flag football is really intense and the kids play hard and have a lot of fun,” said Kurz.
For more information about PYA and how to register for both programs, go to www.pyasports.org.
After two years and five months, Restaurant Yamaguchi has finally
reopened in Port Washington. Owners Akira and Yasuko Yamaguchi opened for business
on Saturday, Aug. 15, with the grand reopening on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
The Yamaguchis are joyful that they are finally reopened on Main Street. “Port Washington is a beautiful
town with friendly people,” said Yasuko. “We like it here so much.
It’s a great community.”
The opening was a success. “We had a wonderful first weekend
open. We were fully booked with reservations for Tuesday also. We are very busy and are having a great start. Many of our old regular customers have already come
in and are very happy to be back.”
Prior to opening, Yamaguchi had many callers who began making reservations early last week. “We have many loyal customers,” said Yasuko. “They stopped in before the opening when they saw us working here asking when Yamaguchi will be opened again.”
Restaurant Yamaguchi’s new home is at 49 Main St. The new restaurant is on the far corner of the same block as the original. The corner building has a wall of windows, adding a new dynamic to the decor of the restaurant. According to Yasuko, the counters and shelves are hand crafted using bamboo plywood, giving it a touch of the Orient while also being eco-friendly, as bamboo grows much more quickly than trees. The new Yamaguchi seats 72 and has a bar and a sushi bar. The menus are largely the same as the previous ones, with a few changes. The staff includes three chefs plus Akira Yamaguchi, a staff of eight waiters and two dishwashers. “We’ve had the same chefs for many years,” said Yasuko.
Yasuko said that she saved all of the photographs that were on the walls from the ruins of the old restaurant. “I had them all reframed,” she said. “They survived the fire.” The old Restaurant Yamaguchi was destroyed in a fire on March 14, 2013. That building, at 63 Main St., is still under construction. Yasuko said, “We wanted to stay on Main Street, so we waited to find the right location.”
Akira and his brother also owned a restaurant in Manhattan before opening Yamaguchi in Port Washington. Yasuko met her husband at his restaurant where
she worked as a maître d’. Yasuko came to New York from Yokomo, Japan, in 1968.
Dinner at Yamaguchi is served from 5 until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 5 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday and Sundays. Yamaguchi is open every day for lunch from 12 to 2:30 p.m., except Monday. Call 516-883-3500
Port Washington is the home of Viki’s Granola founder and CEO Viki Sater, and is also the birthplace of the brand. “When my oldest daughter was still attending Schreiber High School in 2009, she asked me to donate to a bake sale,” said Sater. “I was expecting her to request a storebought box of brownies or cookies but, to my surprise, she said, ‘Granola, please!’ I was amused, but thought, easy, granola…coming right up. The baked granola was literally eaten right up. It was a huge success. Days and weeks following the school bake sale, calls and emails poured in from teachers, parents and even from people in the community who had heard about the bake sale, all asking for Viki’s granola.”
In 2010, Sater started her business, Viki’s Foods, making Viki’s Granola. Her first commercial kitchen space was located on Manorhaven Boulevard. There were many days where the Manorhaven Boulevard kitchen was lined with pallets stacked high with Viki’s Granola, said Sater. “Over a few short years, we just outgrew our facility and required a loading dock to fulfill our surging order requests.” Sater eventually moved the company to Bethpage.
Sater is an entrepreneur with a passion for health and cooking. Sater embraced her innate skill for baking and hosting parties and gatherings as a way to share her favorite foods with friends and family. Today, as the founder of Viki’s Granola, Sater is dedicated to sharing Viki’s Foods’ commitment to creating healthy and great-tasting foods, with not just her own family, but with customers nationwide. “My family was my main focus when I created my first batch of granola; it was made from 100 percent all-natural, high-quality ingredients then and it is still made that way today,” said Sater. “We never add refined sugar, fillers or preservatives. There are less than seven ingredients per flavor. The granola is gluten free, kosher and non-GMO. All of our granolas are naturally sweetened with organic honey or maple syrup.” Today, Viki’s Granola is available in five flavors and has a loyal following.
Sater recently participated in Donna Karan’s “Super Saturday” event to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer research. Sater donated snacks for the event.
Sater explained her choice to live and start her business in Port Washington. “For me, Port Washington was an obvious choice. That’s where I live, where my kids went to school and of course where my following began. North Shore Farms was and continues to be an amazing customer of mine, In fact, I was just there and commented that I can’t go anywhere in Port since I can’t help but stop and chat.” Sater also sells her product at Ralph’s Ices as well as at other businesses in Port.
Sater grew up on the West Coast and moved to New York when she was 21 years old. Shortly after starting a family, she moved to Port Washington, where all three of her daughters attended school. Her youngest child just graduated from Schreiber High School this June and will be joining her sisters at Syracuse University in the fall. Sater is a member of the Women’s Business Network (WBENC) and holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Marymount Manhattan College. For more information, go to www.vikisfoods.com.
Big Fish, a musical adventure based on the novel by David Wallace and the film by John August, swam into Port Washington on Aug. 6 to 9 in the 44th installment of the annual Port Washington Summer Show. The Summer Show, a staple event in Port Washington since 1972, provides professional acting experience to 7th- through 12th-graders and allows all involved to express themselves creatively while putting together memorable shows of the highest quality.
Big Fish is a show of epic proportions, leaving the audience, as well as the characters in the show, wondering what is real and what has been exaggerated. And when Will Bloom, played by Wyn Stopford in a powerful performance reminiscent of a seasoned Broadway actor, approaches a new chapter in his life filled with marriage to the beautiful Josephine Bloom (Ariel Waldman), a baby on the way and the news that his father is becoming increasingly ill, he makes it his personal mission to find out who his father, Edward Bloom (played by Sameer Nanda), really is outside of the outlandish tales he has told Will ever since he was a kid.
The show begins with Edward explaining to a young Will, portrayed by Jack Gilsenan, that he must strive to be the hero of his own life story as Edward has been in all the tales he tells to his young son. Edward sings of meeting a witch in his youth who showed him how he would die, a beautiful mermaid who gave him his first kiss and, of course, the love of his life, his wife Sandra Bloom (played by Tessa Peierls whose singing voice truly shines throughout the show). The spectacular nature of the opening number, with its introduction of mythical creatures and magnificent beings, is carried out perfectly by the enthusiastic cast. Nanda brings Edward’s flair for exaggeration to life in an incredible way, with not only a beautiful singing voice to guide the audience through the encounters he has had in his lifetime, but also a stage presence that is as powerful and memorable as the stories that Edward explains. One of the most striking numbers comes early on in the show, when Edward Bloom tells the tale of a witch he once met who showed him his future. The cast of witches, each decked out in a beautiful yet eerie black dress, come onstage in a dance that employs both sharp movements and wonderful grace. When the head witch in charge, portrayed by Nina Grauer in an equally strong and chilling performance, emerges onstage she shows Edward the future, changing his life forever.
Edward Bloom meets many characters on the journeys he tells of in his elaborate stories, including Karl the Giant, portrayed by Jesse Epstein in an impressive performance carried out almost entirely on stilts. Karl serves as both a form of comic relief and Edward’s right-hand man as he eventually happens upon Amos Calloway (played by Evan Gilmore in an unforgettably flashy, as well as hilarious, performance) and the circus he runs. Here Edward meets a young version of his wife, played by Kimberly Winter, and he pledges to someday marry this girl. The first act comes to a close after the musical number “Daffodils,” as the stage stunningly fills with the aforementioned flower as a means for Edward to woo his future wife.
The second act of the play takes a slightly darker turn, as Edward Bloom becomes increasingly sick and Will struggles to figure out who his father really is. Will and Edward perform the number “What’s Next,” and, as Stopford explains, “it’s a very powerful moment from the audience’s perspective and, for my character, it represents the idea that Will is finally accepting what his father has been trying to teach him all along.”
Big Fish, with its 54-person cast, 14-person crew and 21-person pit, is executed in a way similar to a true Broadway show. With only six weeks to put the show together, it is truly a testament to the hard work of director Jason Summers, who has been involved in the Port Summer Shows for 12 years, as well as producers Jeanne Brennan, Lisa Verdino and the enormous network of parents and Schreiber alumni who put in an incredible amount of effort to make the show a success. Brennan explains that she continues to work with the summer show because it allows her to “watch the kids grow every year.”
And it is certainly true that many of the people involved in the summer show keep coming back. Nanda, who has been a participant in the Port Summer Show for five years, explains that the shows are “a testament to the closeness and the richness of the drama club community.” Similarly, Stopford explains his favorite part of the summer show is that “it’s a unique environment in that everyone is so eager to contribute in any way they can, which makes for a positive experience all around.” Every person involved in the show does so not only because of their love for theater, but because of the closeness and dedication that it inspires.
The Port Summer Show is largely made up of graduated seniors playing the leads, and for many of them this is their final hoorah when it comes to acting with people they have come to know as much more than just castmates. While Big Fish focuses a great deal on characters saying goodbye to Edward Bloom, the real people behind each character also have to say goodbye to one another. But with the help of Big Fish, each cast member that now heads off to college or elsewhere has learned to dream big and to be the hero of their own stories, a lesson that will surely follow the cast, and every member of the audience, throughout their own adventures.
Port Washington resident Noam Cohen took part in Bob’s Discount Furniture’s 28th annual golf outing on July 21 at the Tunxis Plantation Country Club in Farmington, CT. The event raised more than $452,000, which will benefit children’s charities including the Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family & Children’s Aid, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Camp Rising Sun, a camp for more than 120 children battling cancer. The golf outing has raised over $6 million for charity in its 28-year history.
Cohen was one of 252 participants who took part in the annual outing, followed by a gala at the Farmington Club featuring live and silent auctions, dinner and an awards ceremony. The event was hosted by Bob’s Discount Furniture cofounders Bob Kaufman and Gene Rosenberg.
It’s hard to miss the 50 painted flower pots located around Port Washington, each with a unique, intricate design and overflowing with fresh plants. These pots are part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign, which seeks to provide those in the community who have inadequate food supplies with fresh, nutritious produce. As Marvin Makofsky, chief vegetable garden executive for Plant a Row in Port Washington, explained, people often donate nonperishable goods to the hungry, but it is rare to hear about families in need receiving healthy vegetables to eat. For this reason, Makofsky brought the idea of Plant a Row to Port Washington six years ago. Originally, the program was set to encourage people to donate excess produce they had grown in their gardens, but the painted planters that are now visible all around Port Washington have become a part of the campaign this year. [Read more…]