Category Archives: MywalkinManhattan.com: Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library Events

Day One Hundred and Eighty: The Seventh Anniversary of Professor Angus Gillespie’s talk on the ‘Jersey Devil’ for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Halloween Events in 2013 November 13th, 2020

As part of our Halloween festivities for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library, we had a really special event on November 13th, 2013 for a new event we planned called “The Family Night Lecture” that we had just created. Our special guest that evening was Professor Angus Gillespie from the American Studies Department of Rutgers University. He is an expert and lecturer on folklore and myths including the ‘Jersey Devil’.

Professor Angus Gillespie with Professor and Chairman of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Justin Watrel

Professor Gillespie was a noted author and he had explained to me that when he originally wrote the book “The Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center” that it had a press of 2000 copies in 1999 bought mostly by his mother as gifts to her friends. When the Towers fell two year later, the book took off and became a Best Seller and he was flown all over the world as an expert on the history of the Towers. His book “Folklore in the Pine Barrens: A Study of the Pinelands Cultural Society of Waretown” was when the interest of the Jersey Devil began.

‘The Jersey Devil’

It has been a very interesting lecture that had everyone spellbound on the story of the Leeds family. The legend began with the story of Jane Leeds ( or in some historical cases Deborah Leeds) on a stormy night in 1735. Tired and frazzled from her 12 other children who over-worked her, she found that she was pregnant for the 13th time. She exclaimed ” I hope it’s not a child; I hope its the Devil”.

L

The Leeds former home in the Pine Barrens

On a dark and stormy night she gave birth to the child with friends gathered in the home to witness the birth. The child was born normal and then transformed into a monster of hoofs, a goat’s head, bat’s wings and a forked tail. It then attacked people in the room before it escaped up the chimney. It disappeared into the Pine Barrens and over the years people have claimed to have had encounters with it the latest being in 1909.

Chairman Justin Watrel with Professor Gillespie and members of the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library at the Junior Friends “Family Night Lecture”

It spellbound most of the crowd who were eager to ask questions. Professor Gillespie lead a discussion on the occurrences and accounts of the sightings over the years that got people thinking, was this thing still alive? The crowd had a wonderful time asking questions and getting a feel for the legend.

It was the last event of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library that year and a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. We had a small reception afterwards in Professor Gillespie’s honor.

Chairman & Professor Justin Watrel with Professor Angus Gillespie and Library Director Mimi Hui

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Eight: ‘The Celebration of Books’: The Seventh Anniversary of Giants football player, Kevin Boothe’s visit to the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library July 17th, 2020

I dedicate this blog to great fellow Cornellian and former Giants football player, Kevin Boothe, who took time out of his busy summer schedule to come to the Hasbrouck Heights Library to visit the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the “Celebration of Books” event for the Library’s Summer Reading Program. We had over one hundred children and their parents attend the reading and reception for the event in July of 2013.

I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than ‘kiddie things’  like “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.

When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’ and ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out,  it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected us not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the last generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.

I wanted to share this experience with other kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the City at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the City to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2013 was the zenith for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests and we exceeded it in every way.

I had the goal of bringing a famous athlete to the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library’s Second Annual “Celebration of Books” event. After the successful visit from Mary Rodgers the year before in 2012,  I wanted to do something to top it.

Freaky Friday 2013

Mary Rodgers with us the year before for the ‘Freaky Friday’ event in 2012

Here’s my write up of that event in 2012 in MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7663

 

I had been contacting the Giants and Jets organizations for almost six months before the event trying to talk to their PR Departments and it was coming down to the wire. The Jets would not help us and stop responding to my emails and calls.

 

Kevin Boothe I

Kevin Boothe welcoming everyone

Our Library Director had left for vacation and could not be reached and our then President of the organization was at her beach house for the Summer when we got the last minute call that Kevin was available for a visit in a week. We had that one week of opportunity before Training Camp would begin. We jumped at the chance and arranged it for the next Wednesday and all had to pull together to organize the event in one week. When our Library Director arrived back from vacation that Monday, it was all hands on deck for the organization. I don’t think anyone knew how fast and hard we had to work for a one hour visit.

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library

The Children’s Librarian at the time, Marie Joyce, jumped in and helped me out. She picked the book “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle” by author Christopher Rashcka as an inspirational book for children to achieve their goals.

 

Raschka Visit II

Author Christopher Rashcka and I in 2016 at the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library event I ran for their library “Teens, Tots & Toys”.  I am holding the book “Everyone can learn to ride a Bicycle”.

Here’s my write up of that event in MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/3325

 

It was an interesting children’s book about trying something new and accomplishing goals. It is something for kids to learn something new and be proud of it.

 

Kevin Boothe V

Our Children’s Librarian Marie Joyce with Giants player Kevin Boothe

There was a lot of excitement in the library that afternoon as the place filled with children and their parents many of the them coming from the town’s Summer Camp and a lot of them wearing Giants jersey’s. It had been a difficult afternoon as their was so much going on in the building at the time.

Kevin Boothe VI

“Everyone can learn to ride a bicycle” by Christopher Raschka

There was a BCCLS meeting going on in the conference room that had ended by 2:00pm and the Senior’s were having their Summer picnic in the parking lot so parking was at a premium all over the building and they were also ending by 2:00pm. People were scrambling to leave the building as the air conditioning had broken down and they were trying to fix it while the event was going on. It was crazy afternoon.

Our event was at 3:00pm so things were just calming down when Kevin arrived with the Giants representatives. It has always amazed me that people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes before a visit. We had a to scramble to set up the tables for the reception, someone had to buy the food and set the tables and in the meantime someone bought jersey’s for a raffle that I knew nothing about. I was always last to know.

Kevin Boothe had a great football career when we met him. Kevin had been an All American when he played in Pine Crest Prep School in Florida. He played football at Cornell University (my Alma Mater as well), where he was a three time All Ivy League player and a member of the Quill & Dagger Society. Then in 2006 he was drafted in the sixth round by the Oakland Raiders where he played Right Guard for a year before coming to the Giants. He stayed with the Giants from 2007-2013 as a Left Guard and helped the team win Superbowl XLII and XLIV winning both times against New England. Kevin played for one more year with the Giants as a free agent and then finished his last year of play with the Oakland Raiders in 2014.

Kevin Booth VII

Kevin with his son at the Superbowl

I have to say that it was really stuffy in the library that afternoon with all those people and the air conditioning down. Kevin and Marie were both sweating through the reading but it all went by well. They read the book together while the books pages (which had been scanned earlier in the day) were shown to the audience. After the reading was over, we had a Q & A with the audience which all the kids were in awe.

Kevin Boothe II

Kevin at the Q & A with the kids in awe

For a group of small children, they asked some interesting questions especially on playing for the Giants and how he got into football. I was impressed by how he approached the kids and talking to them on their level while being engaging to everyone in the room. One thing was I was impressed with is when he said, ” Whether is its learning to ride a bicycle or playing football like me you can go after any dream in life. If your heart is in the right place, you can achieve anything.” (Patch.com). He talked about winning with the team the two Superbowl’s as the underdog team and how their coach inspired them to win.

After the Q & A, Kevin took a group shot with the kids and we had everyone join in the reception. It then got a little crazy as all the kids wanted autographs. Since Kevin was about to start Training Camp, he had to get back to the stadium as he had other work to do. I had agreed with the Giants Organization that there would be no autograph session as there would be no time but that didn’t stop the kids from banging on the office door where he and everyone else were cooling down in the only room where the air conditioning worked.

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library
Two Time Superbowl winning, Three Time All Ivy League and All American Giant’s player, Kevin Boothe visiting the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library.

It was there that we took the picture with members of the Junior Friends of the Library for our group shot. It was a lot to track the kids down in the crowd and keep the other kids from coming in but we got the shot in which also made the Cornell Alumni Magazine.

Kevin Boothe IV

Kevin and I with some of the members of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library representing Cornell University for the Alumni Magazine

The afternoon ended a little crazy with a raffle I had to run (which I did not know about) and Kevin and the Giants Organization representatives leaving through the backdoor without me having to say goodbye and thank you. Still the reception went by well and the kids ate everything we put out. It was another great success for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and was one of the reasons why we were recognized by the BCCLS organization the next Fall for our outstanding work.

I wanted to dedicate this blog to Kevin Boothe, who made so many children and their parents happy that afternoon. You are a real gentleman and make Cornell University proud!

Cornell University Logo

 

Articles on the event:

Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/ny-giant-star-kevin-boothe-inspires-youngsters-to-follow-their-dreams

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/junior-friends-second-annual-celebration-of-books

The Community News:

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/499942122/

Other Sources:

https://www.century21semiao.com/blog/fernando-semiao/ny-giant-star-kevin-boothe-visits-hasbrouck-heights-library

 

 

Town Minutes:

Click to access 7.23.13.pdf

Staten Island Chuck

Day One Hundred and Thirty One: Meeting Staten Island Chuck at the Staten Island Zoo on Groundhog’s Day, February 2nd, 2019 (Revisited February 2nd, 2020)

I had planned to go out to Punxsutawney, PA again for Groundhog’s Day but the weather really turned this year. There was an Arctic Vortex (or whatever they are calling it this week) and the weather plunged in Pennsylvania. It was going to be 20 degrees on Groundhog’s Day (that meant 0 degrees that night) and raining when I would drive home on Sunday and I thought that would be over doing it for me.

I later saw that it did go up to 38 degrees that day in Punxsutawney, higher than expected but the overnight Friday night into Saturday was 4 degrees and sorry but the thought of standing in Gobbler’s Knob for five and a half hours in that weather was too much. I did that in 2016 in 30 degrees and that was bad enough. I will wait until next year.

My blog on visiting Punxsutawney, PA in 2016 for Groundhog’s Day:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/994

I then remembered that we have our own Groundhog Festival here in the New York City area at the Staten Island Zoo with ‘Groundhog Chuck’, an event I had heard of in the past. So when I knew that driving to PA was out (I was assisting with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Marcal Paper Factory fire on Wednesday night January 30th, 2019-See The Brothers of Engine One Blog site on WordPress.com that I write), I went online and looked at the festival that they had at the Staten Island Zoo.

My blog on the Marcal Paper Fire right before Groundhog’s Day:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14887

So on a cold morning, I got up at 3:30am in the morning to get ready to go to Staten Island. It was not too much better on an early Saturday morning here as well. It was 19 degrees (versus 4 in PA) in Staten Island but off I drove into the darkness. The trip to the Staten Island Zoo was not that bad. I got to the zoo in forty minutes and there was plenty of parking. I guess not as many people had the same idea that I had. There were only about six other cars in the lot when I arrived.

A group of about ten of us were waiting outside the back gate when someone finally came to the gate and told us we were at the wrong gate. It would have been nice if some zoo personal was directing people to the parking lot (which was dark with not a lot of signage to see) and had a sign to go to the front gate.

When the ten of us got to the front gate we were lucky in that the TV crews had already set up and there were only about ten other people there at the time so we got great views of the stage.

Trust me this is WAY smaller than the festival in Punxsutawney, PA. There were about a hundred and fifty people there that I could see and that included the staff, the politicians, the choir from P.S. 29 and their parents and the crowd of us but that made it more intimate. You were not elbow to elbow with people and did not have to camp out for the night. The Staten Island Zoo did a nice job. I still think they should move it to a bigger area of the zoo so that the kids could see it. Also, it would have been nice to put the choir and the dancing Groundhog (a staff member dressed in a Groundhog costume) on the stage so that more people could have seen them.

The Zoo staff introduced some of the local politicians to the event. Some of them kept it short and sweet and a few others had to make it about themselves and bring up things in Washington DC, which I think at an event like this has no place for it. It is a family event.

Still one of the local politicians made a good MC for the event and then introduced a student from P.S. 29,  who played the “Star-Spangled Banner” for us on her violin and that was followed by the P.S. 29 choir, who sang a song about Groundhog’s Day. It was really cute and the kids did a nice job entertaining the crowd (See the video below).

Groundhog’s Day 2019

The Groundhog Ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo 2019 (that’s me in the Spartan knit hat)

Then the band, “Rock a Silly” played their song for Staten Chuck and it was quite clever. (See the band’s video on YouTube below).

The Rock-A-Silly Band with their original song for “Staten Island Chuck” (I give the band full credit for this video-very clever guys!)

The band got the crowd really moving on this cold morning.

After all the entertainment, it was time to hear the report from Chuck and the handlers took him out. There was a little of a commotion and then the report came. In the middle of this ‘deep freeze vortex’ Chuck’s prediction was SPRING IS COMING! Everyone cheered loudly at that. With that, there was a little more entertainment, then I was off to tour the zoo.

Staten Island Chuck 2019 II

The Staten Island Zoo is very nice even in the cold weather. I was able to go into the main building and see the monkey, the reptile and the aquarium exhibits, which were nicely displayed and labeled so that you knew what animals were what. The only problem with the zoo is the space is very limited and surrounded by houses so there is no room to expand, so the living space for the animals is small. Still they look happy and content.

I stopped at the Zoo Cafe for a doughnut ($1.00) and to look at the gift shop. They had an interesting ‘Staten Island Chuck’ stuffed groundhog ($12.00) that I had to keep myself from buying. The zoo gift shop is stocked with all sorts of ‘Chuck’ coloring books, tee shirts and little do-dads as well as plush animals, pencils, shirts and hats.  The zoo cafe has the usual hamburgers, chicken fingers and fries on the menu that will appeal to any child.

I walked around the zoo as it started to warm up (now 25 degrees) and went to the outside pens to see the pigs, donkey’s, kangaroos, emus, geese and ducks. The poor emus looked so cold that they were chasing after me with a look in their eyes like either I had food or was going to take them inside. I really felt for the animals in this cold.

By the time I left the zoo, it was 9:45am and the zoo still had not opened. There was myself and two other families left in the early hours zoo and by the time I got back to the parking lot, there were only six cars left.

Even though it was not the crowds of the event in Punxsutawney, PA, it was still a cute event that you should not miss on future Groundhog’s Day when you are visiting New York City. The Staten Island Zoo puts on a good show!

Groundhog’s Day 2020:

In 2020, the ceremony was much toned down from the year before. First, the weather was much nicer than last year. I got up this year at 5:00am and was out the door by 6:15am. The zoo I found out last year is only thirty-five minutes from my house and I did not need to rush. The zoo does not have the crowds of Punxsutawney. Again there were about a hundred or so people at the zoo this morning and when the sun rose, it was warm and sunny about 43 degrees.

The ceremony was only twenty minutes this year. There was no band and no kids choir at the service. Being Super Bowl Sunday, it seemed to me that everyone wanted to get our of there and rushed the whole thing. There were the same politicians with the same lame jokes and it seemed that Speaker Corey Johnson is running for Mayor of New York City (Good Choice!). At least he admitted the jokes were lame and just wished everyone a Happy Groundhog’s Day.

Then they could not even get Chuck out of his Plexiglas pen to hold him up (the Groundhog kept running away. He probably didn’t like the jokes either), so they just announced the weather prediction of an early Spring and then they played a recording of the children’s choir singing and that was the program. We were done in about thirty minutes. It was so quick that a woman walked in with her son at 7:45am and asked if this was the ceremony. The guy standing next to me said that it was already over and they were packing up. She was a little pissed because she said to the guy that she just got dropped off with her son and her husband was parking the car. So much for pomp and circumstance!

After the ceremony, I walked around the zoo again and visited with the monkey’s, kangaroos and sheep. The ostriches and Emu’s were rather friendly this year and seemed more chipper than last year but it was because it was not as cold. In fact, most of the animals were out this year. So I just enjoyed my time walking around the zoo and stopped into the Zoo Snack Shop and had another doughnut (Still $1.00) and just relaxes. This year I did buy the stuffed Chuck from the gift shop (he now sits prominently near my Dayton’s Santa Bear, Hamley’s Bear, Macy’s Snoopy and Brooks Brother’s Brooks Bear (I love retail stuffed animals).

After the zoo, it was such a nice morning that I once again walked along the retail stretch of Forest Avenue near the zoo and zig-zagged through some of the stores that were open. People were getting ready for the Super Bowl so a lot of the food stores were busy with take out orders. Most of the restaurants were quiet.

I did stop into an old line Italian bakery, Moretti’s Bakery at 640 Forest Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) and have another doughnut. This time a creme filled powered doughnut ($1.25) and God was that good. They have a very nice selection of baked goods at very fair prices and good service.

Moretti's Bakery Staten Island

Moretti’s Bakery at 640 Forest Avenue

After that I just walked through the local park and drove home. The whole thing was done this year in about an hour and a half. Oh well, off to the firehouse for the Super Bowl game.

Moretti's Bakery Staten Island II

The doughnuts at Moretti’s Bakery are delicious!

Here’s the ceremony in 2020!

I thought this commercial with Bill Murray and reuniting the cast from the film for this commercial:

This is very clever!

This interview with Bill Murray:

This is very clever!

The Groundhog Day trailer-Excellent film

Ground Hogs Day Staten Island III

Very clever cartoon when the Mayor dropped the Groundhog in Staten Island

Happy Groundhog’s Day!!

Places to Visit:

The Staten Island Zoo

614 Broadway

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 442-3100

http://www.statenislandzoo.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:45pm

Admission:  Adults (15 and over) $10.00/Seniors (60 and over) $7.00/Children (3-16) $6.00/Wednesdays after 2:00pm is free to everyone. Free with membership. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

The Cafe and the Gift shop are open when the zoo is open.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48682-d110278-Reviews-Staten_Island_Zoo-Staten_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2732

Places to eat:

Zoo Cafe (Inside the Zoo-hours are when the zoo is open)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48682-d110278-Reviews-Staten_Island_Zoo-Staten_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2732

McDonald’s

803 Forest Avenue

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 876-6088

Open: 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48682-d13807873-Reviews-McDonald_s-Staten_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

Moretti’s Bakery

640 Forest Avenue

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 815-0252

https://www.facebook.com/Moretti-Bakery-203491506382798/

Open: Sunday 7:00am-3:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 7:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48682-d5046253-Reviews-Moretti_Bakery-Staten_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

Author Mary Rodgers with the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library

Day One Hundred and Eighteen: Freaky Friday the 13th-The Sixth Anniversary of author Mary Rodgers visit for the 40th Anniversary of her book “Freaky Friday” for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library July 13th, 2018

This blog is dedicated to the great and wonderful author, Mary Rodgers, in honor of her visit six years ago to the Hasbrouck Heights Library in honor of the 40th Anniversary of her best-selling book, “Freaky Friday” on July 13th, 2012. This was one of the best Special Events programs that I ever ran outside “Parent’s Weekend” my senior year at Michigan State University. It was a big thrill for me to meet an author whom not only I had grown up with but whose books and movies I enjoyed not just then but even now. The original ‘Freaky Friday’ I saw as a kid when it first came out in 1977 and I still enjoy it today.

I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.

When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.

I wanted to share this experience with kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the city at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the city to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2012 was the leap year for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests.

I put my game plan of ideas together and came up with a “Freaky Friday” night at the library on Friday the 13th and because of the way Friday the 13th landed that year, July 13th that year was around the opening of the library’s Summer Reading Program. So the Junior Friends would tie their event around that. I never thought in a million years Mary Rodgers would come. I knew nothing about her whereabouts or her life. This is why I love Google.

One late night I was Googling her and did not realize that she had been the President of the Richard Rodgers Foundation and at the bottom of the screen there was a comments section. I went to it and wrote that the library was having a 40th Anniversary of her book, “Freaky Friday” and we wanted her to be our guest. Would she consider coming to the library to read the book? I could not believe it when she said yes the next day!

Thus started the plans for her visit. We bought copies of the novel, organized a small reception and had an area set up in the early afternoon for the reading. We would show the original 1977 film first in the private meeting room across the hall to be followed by the 2003 remake. We had planned something a little more elaborate but I could not get anyone to agree to it.

I had long emails for the next three weeks back and forth with her assistant, Ruschika, getting everything organized. It was like planning D-Day with all the conversations on a two hour visit. The way I was understanding it was that I was dealing with a very frail woman but when I met her she could have been nothing further from the truth. She was a spunky big kid who could not have been more engaging to both the adults and the kids. I knew that when I first introduced myself.

Freaky Friday 2013

Me with Mary Rodgers and the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Executive Board and Library Director on Friday, July 13th, 2012

I kept saying Mrs. Rodgers this and Mrs. Rodgers that and she finally said to me “Justin, after all this just call me ‘Mary'”. I knew she was cool even at 83. She could not have been more engaging and openly friendly with everyone there and the kids loved her. Most of these kids were two generations ahead of her, she being the R.K. Rowling of her time. You could not have asked for a bigger author of kids books with comparison to Maurice Sendak, Norton Juster and Judy Bloom. For my generation, she was huge! (It would be years later that I would discover that she had been suffering from terminal cancer at the time of the visit and she died just a few months before my dad in 2014).

Freaky Friday 2012

Author Mary Rodgers reading her book “Freaky Friday”

It could not have been a better afternoon as the weather cooperated and because it was early traffic, she arrived over an hour early so she was able to settle in and talk with all the patrons on a personal basis. It really was a magical afternoon.

Mary talked to the audience of about 40 patrons about growing up as Richard Rodgers daughter and living in the shadow of fame while carving her own career out of it. She talked about growing up in a musical family, writing stories with her sister and time creating such shows as “Once Upon a Mattress” and “A to Z”. I even remembered when she worked on “Free to be you and Me” that Marlo Thomas had created in the 70’s for kids.

The best part of the program is when she talked about growing up and said, “Annebelle is me! I was a tough kid when I was growing up and had my own opinions.” She and her mother had obviously butted heads when she was growing up and based the book on her early childhood growing up in New York.

She then talked about working with Disney Studios to adapt the book into a movie and writing the screenplay. She told us of having to write a sexy secretary into the script to please one of the studio heads. She talked about the rewrites and finally how proud she was when the movie came out. She admitted though when asked whether she liked the original film or the 2003 remake, she admitted to us “I thought the remake was more true to the theme of the book.”

After a long discussion, we made our presentations to her. I made her the first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and the Mayor of Hasbrouck Heights at the time, Mrs. Rose Heck, read a proclamation declaring it ‘Mary Rodgers Day’ in Hasbrouck Heights. We even had the electric board out front of the Municipal Building read “Welcome Mary Rodgers”. We then had the book signing and she continued the discussion with many of the patrons and kids.

Mary Rodgers

Mayor Rose Heck presents Mary Rodgers with our version of the ‘Key’ to Hasbrouck Heights

After that she joined for a bit for the reception and then headed back into the City before rush hour began. We did keep in touch for bit writing to one another and me sending out press clippings and pictures from the event. (Years later after she passed away, Mayor Heck had told me she had just sent her a birthday card. Even the two of them had kept in touch long after the event).

After she left, we watched the original 1977 film with Jody Foster and Barbara Harris, then we stopped for intermission and had a pizza and brownie dinner and then showed the 2003 film with Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee-Curtis. The original film was a big hit with the kids many of whom had never seen it before. We ended up being at the library for over four hours and the last of the patrons walked out at 9:15pm with everyone raving about the event.

All these years later when older members of the organization get together, we still talk about the wonderful afternoon we had when Mary Rodgers visited us.

So on this Friday the 13th, six years to the date of the original event on July 13th, 2012, I dedicate this blog to a true New Yorker, Mary Rodgers-Guettel and the wonderful afternoon we had sharing stories, reading the book and watching her films. The kids may not known who she was when they came but they sure knew who she was when she left.

In Memory to the very first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and one of my literary idols, Mary Rodgers-Guettel January 1931-June 2014.

The Opening of the Original “Freaky Friday”

 

Closing Song from Freaky Friday remake 2003

 

Special Note: I was very proud to discover in 2014 that BCCLS, the governing body  Bergen County Cooperative Library System for all libraries in Bergen County, New Jersey, honored the Junior Friends of the Library for our 2013 programming and the organization itself. It was nice to see that someone noticed!

Some articles that were posted online of the event:

Patch.com October 2012:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/mary-rodgers-visits-heights

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/freaky-friday-author-mary-rodgers-to-visit-heights

Proclamation from the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

Click to access 7-24-12.pdf

The Gazette Newspaper:

Click to access jul12.pdf

Author Justin Watral

Day Ninety One: New Blog Sites: VisitingaMuseum.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@WordPress.com by Blogger Justin Watrel.

To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.

I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.

Gallery Bergen II.jpg

Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College

There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.

‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.

Dumplings II.jpg

Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street

These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

Beekman Place.jpg

Beekman Place

So I hope you enjoy ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com when coming to Manhattan. Please check all of this places out online for a change of hours and exhibits and menus.

Check out the newest site, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” for small boutiques and specialty shops that are unique and quirky.

Cute Downtown.jpg

Little Shop on Main Street:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.

New Jersey Firemen's Home Museum

The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of  Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.

Brother's of Engine One with their bell

The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/tag/engine-one-hhfd/

The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.

BCFHA Barbecue 2019 V

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association

I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.

Happy Reading!

My Blogs:

MywalkinManhattan.com

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

BergenCountyCaregiver.com

https://wwwbergencountycaregiver.com/

VisitingaMuseum.com

https://visitingamuseum.com/

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

TheBrothersofEngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartment@Wordpress.com

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/

TBCFMA@Wordpress.com

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

Also visit my past blog on Patch.com: The Merchant Series

https://patch.com/users/justin-watrel

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

I did this for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library from 2009-2014.

Woodstock Christmas Eve Parade

Day Sixty-Three: Christmas in Woodstock, NY Again: December 24th-25th, 2016

I traveled to Woodstock, NY for my third Christmas upstate to see the Christmas Parade in downtown Woodstock and go to Christmas Eve services at the Dutch Reformed Church. After that, a quiet dinner out and then a drive by the town Christmas tree. It has been my Christmas tradition since my father passed away. I like the calm and the beauty of Upstate New York. I like to relax after the hustle of the holidays.

I love the trip up to the Hudson Valley region. After going to school up here for two years, (Alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America Class of ’98, Honors and Perfect Attendance) I have never gotten over how gorgeous this region can be in the early winter. The leaves have already fallen but the hills and streams are still so impressive. It is also not that far from home and the area is fun to explore. Woodstock is not exactly isolated but it is further off the beaten path.

I love how the town is decorated for the holidays. The tree on the square is a classic every year with plain colorful lights with the backdrop of the lit Dutch Reformed Church, several well decorated businesses and the Village Green B & B behind it (where I stayed the year before). The whole square lit for the holidays can put any non-believer in the Christmas mood. It is classic New England Christmas.

Woodstock Christmas Eve

The Green in Downtown Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY at Christmas on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g48915-d7003084-r335526056-Woodstock_Town_Center-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The Parade in Woodstock is unusual in the way it is timed. It starts when the last bus leaves the square  for New York City at 5:15pm and must be over at 6:30pm before the Dutch Reformed Church starts its 7:00pm services. It runs like a well-oiled machine. The second that bus leaves the square, I swear I saw the police and fire department had those roads fast.

I got up early around 4:00pm knowing from past history that you will never get into town if you don’t get arrive before 5:00pm. I stayed this year at the Woodstock Inn at the Millstream (See review on TripAdvisor). What a beautiful and unique little hotel. I was talking with the manager, Karen, when I arrived and she said that it was an old motel that the owners found and fixed up. It is the most unassuming and beautiful place to stay.

Woodstock Inn at Millstream.jpg

Woodstock Inn at Millstream at 14 Tannery Brook Road

It is just off the beaten path off the downtown and within walking distance of downtown. It has the picturesque location right by the Mill Stream. It must truly show itself in the summer months when you can sit under the shade trees and look at the stream.

There was a large size crowd this year for the parade but not as big as last year when the temperature was 70 degrees (the hottest in history of record keeping). The temperature was a balmy 42 degrees. Very seasonable. Still there was a lot of energy in the crowd as we all waited to see how Santa would arrive.

Santa did not disappoint and with the help of the Woodstock Fire Department, Santa made his appearance  via a Partridge in a Pear tree.  It is the most anticipated part of the parade to see how Santa will make his appearance. Last year it was via a magic hat with a snowman dancing around.

As Santa exited the fire truck and was greeted with Mrs. Claus who arrived on another float, the crowd stood in line for their turn to talk to Santa. The jazz band started to play outside the church. That was the one part of the parade I was disappointed with, in that every year that I have been up in Woodstock, Lindsay Webster and her band, had entertained everyone with her version of jazz Christmas carols. That the parade to me. It was Woodstock’s own stamp to the holidays (Ms. Webster and her band I found out later were touring in Europe for the holidays).

Here’s a clip from the parade in Downtown Woodstock, NY

For the next hour, people were milling around the square, listening to bands, eating snacks in the local restaurants (there is an place called ‘Shindig’ on the square that makes the most mind-blowing mac & cheese, See my review on TripAdvisor) and meeting up with their neighbors and friends. It really does have the small town feel about it as unlike Sinterklass in Rhinebeck a few weeks earlier that is attracting larger crowds. Woodstock attracts crowds but still keeps it small due to the restrictions of time.

I swear by 6:30pm, the crowds started to thin out and the band wrapped it up and were putting equipment away before the church doors opened by 6:45pm. I entered the church about ten to seven and most people including Santa were wrapping things up.

Christmas Eve service at the Dutch Reformed Church is always special to me. The church run such informal and welcoming service. It is so different from Catholic services, where we spend the whole service standing up and sitting down. The Church was decorated all over with garland and bows and candles. The Church was build in the 1800’s so it does have the old wooden pews that us modern folk have to squeeze into and there are two levels so you look up and see more parishioner’s.

Dutch Reformed Church Woodstock

Dutch Reformed Church on the Green at 16 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/

The service started with a combo playing all sorts holiday music and then we were welcomed by members of the Church to the holiday mass. The service is lively with many Christmas songs that the audience participates in and the service I have always found very inspirational and enlighten. Reverend Josh has a real passion in making people feel comfortable in Church. His sermons actually say something and he makes it more personable.

There are those little touches that I don’t see in my local Church such as the bell choir and lighting the candles during the last part of mass. If you really want to see something its a Church fully lit with candles in the pitch black. Does that make an effect inside a Church the way the light played off the woodwork and decorations.

After Church, it was the most uninspiring visit to Cucina, an Italian restaurant in Woodstock. After two disappointing years at Joshua’s on the Green, I decided to try something different. As much as the restaurant is beautifully decorated and appointed and the service friendly and accommodating, the food is dismal. It had no flavor and its presentation was less than perfect (See review on TripAdvisor).

Cucina in Woodstock

Cucina at 109 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, NY

I went back to my room to change and then I took a walk to the Green to look at the stars. I swear you can almost touch them up here. It is also nice to have the whole Green to yourself. It is fun to just sit and look at the tree and the well light store fronts. It is so quiet and peaceful it really gives you a chance to sit back and reflect on the year. I could not believe another Christmas had come again.

I had never seen a year come and go so fast. Time does have a way of passing by quickly without you noticing it. Even so, looking up at the stars and the moon, it really does make you want to catch a glimpse for Santa’s sleight passing by. It was just one of those nights.

The next morning after an amazing nights sleep with the sound of a stream passing by and a great breakfast of homemade granola (Karen makes this and it is excellent) and fresh fruit, I made my traditional phone calls to my family and friends and play catch up beyond all the Christmas cards that I sent out earlier in the month. Everyone was happy to hear from me and I had nice conversations with my cousins who lived in different states and friends that I had not heard from in a long time.

I had visited my friend, Lillian, who lives in Assisted Living out on Long Island earlier in the week and talked with other friends earlier in the month, so it was nice just to exchange well-wishes. After sending out about eight boxes of Christmas cards, the lines of communication between myself and my friends and family are excellent.

Then I took a long drive up into the Catskill Mountains. I know why the place is so inspirational to writers and painters, it is just so beautiful and graceful of a place. The mountains are just so picturesque even with no leaves on the ground.

It is sad that many of the small town on Route 28 have gotten so depressed. Even Phoenicia that had so many nice little restaurants and shops two years earlier, things have just closed down. The further I went up Route 28, the more depressed it got. Pine Hill is run down, Fleishman is the same, in Margaretville each of the buildings could have used a good paint job and it was not until I got to Andes did I see a little spark of vibrancy. There were some nice little shops and places to eat.

I was taking this tour to visit Bovina Center, which is off Route 28 on Route 6 in the middle of a farming community to visit the Bushman Eating House, a restaurant I had read about in a magazine. I was hoping to have lunch there but unfortunately like most things on Christmas Day, it was closed. Maybe sometime in the Spring when the weather is nicer (See trip to Cornell University Day Seventy-Seven in MywalkinManhattan.com below:)

My trip to Bovina/Narrowsburg and Ithaca:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5116

Brushland Eating House

Brushland Eating House at 1927 Co Road 6 in Bovina Center

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor (later trip):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d7045175-Reviews-Brushland_Eating_House-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

I made a turnaround and went down Route 10, past the SUNY campus in Delhi, which is located in the quaint little town of Delhi and through Stamford and other smaller towns and then to Tannersville to see some of the closed galleries and then back down Route 214 through Phoenicia again which really closed for the night.

I ate at Little Bear (see review on TripAdvisor) by 5:30pm and enjoyed another Chinese meal there before the crowds beseeched on the only restaurant open in a ten mile radius.  When I mean that this place gets packed for the evening, it gets packed. I finished my meal at 5:00pm and the line was already 20 deep with the phones ringing off the hook for to go orders. People can be so pushy especially here when they are hungry.

The food at Little Bear is usually very good but on Christmas Day they just can’t handle the crowds and it suffered the year before. You have to get here before the first movie lets out at 6:30pm. After that it is ciaos until 9:00pm. I had delicious Shu Mai starter followed by Mu Shu pork and a order of Dragon & the Phoenix (shrimp and chicken combo), both which were good but tepid. They need more help during the holidays (See review on TripAdvisor). They have a hard time just keeping up with the to go orders let alone seating people. Otherwise, the one time I ate here when it was quiet, the food was wonderful.

I thought about a movie after dinner but settled on another walk to the Green. It was just too beautiful of a night to sit in the movies when I could walk around town. With all the lights on at the downtown businesses and the tree lit in the Green, it just felt like Christmas Day night. Like Santa had just visited and people were just enjoying time with their families. A few people were walking their dogs or just looking at the tree in the Green with their children.

Christmas in Woodstock,NY

To me, Woodstock, New York is just such a nice place to come to celebrate Christmas. So quiet, so picturesque and serene and relaxing. It is a place that you can sit, think and reflect on the year.

Merry Christmas to you all & a Happy New Year!

If you like this blog, check out my other Christmas visits to Woodstock, NY on:

Day Thirty-Four: Christmas in Woodstock, NY 2015:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/662

Places to stay:

The Woodstock Inn at Mill Stream

48 Tannery Brook Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-8211

https://www.woodstock-inn-ny.com/

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48915-d80289-Reviews-The_Woodstock_Inn_on_the_Millstream-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to eat:

Cucina

109 Mill Hill Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-9800

info@cucinawoodstock.com

Hours: Sunday 11:00am-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 5:00pm-9:30pm/Saturday 11:00am-10:30pm

My Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d1457080-Reviews-Cucina-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Little Bear Chinese Restaurant

295 Tinker Street, Street B

Bearsville, NY  12409

(845) 679-8849

http://littlebearchineserestaurant.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday-Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47293-d3216488-Reviews-The_Little_Bear-Bearsville_New_York.html?m=19905

Shindig

1 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 684-7091

Open:

Sunday-9:00am-9:00pm/Tuesday-10:00am-9:00pm/Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm

shindig1Tinker@yahoo.com

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d7376319-Reviews-Shindig-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Dutch Reformed Church

16 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-6610

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/Home/who-we-are

Check their website for services

The Second Annual Teens Tots & Toys at the Lodi Memorial

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event with Best-Selling Author and Caldecott Medal Winner Christopher Raschka with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library December 10, 2016

This is the second time I have hosted the “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event at the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library created “Teens, Tots & Toys” as an alternative to many libraries having a “Story Time with Santa” event that can  leave  out some children who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Our mascot for the event, “Tinker Street” was created by myself to set the tone for the event and can be seen on YouTube in the video from last year’s event with special invited guest, US & World Figure Skater Elaine Zayak and with this year’s event with Best Selling and Caldecott Medal Winner, Christopher Raschka. We were so happy that two such prominent people wanted to join us for this event.

Raschka Visit II

Chris and I at “Teens, Tots & Toys”

The premise for “Teens, Tots & Tots” is as a holiday event that caters to all children and their families.  The Friends wanted to build the event on having a toy drive, a celebrity visit and showing a holiday movie. Last year, we donated toys and books to the Emmanuel Cancer Center in Midland Park, NJ. This is in partnership with the library when they run their Annual Gingerbread House Making event.

This holiday season we were very excited when Best-Selling Children’s Author and Caldecott Medal, Christopher Raschka, decided to join us. I have to admit, we had a lot of communication between each other for over a year and there were a lot of emails going back and forth and time commitments we both had and I was glad that he could join us for our holiday event. I was very excited that he was coming to our library. As the expression says. “Good things come to those who wait” and the visit went beyond my expectations. Everyone had a such a good time.

I had first become acquainted with Chris’s work  when a few years earlier I had done another event at my old library with Giant’s player and fellow Cornell University Alumni, Kevin Boothe. Kevin had read from the inspirational book that Chris wrote and illustrated, “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle”. I thought the illustrations were very unique and creative and that is when I thought it would be interesting to have the author come out to the library. It took almost a year and a half of planning.

Kevin Boothe at the HHL II

Giants Player Kevin Boothe reading “Everyone Can Learn to Ride A Bicycle”.

Chris Raschka is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota who graduated with a degree in Biology. He also has a love for music as he was a member of both the Ann Arbor and Flint Symphony Orchestra’s. While working as an intern at a children’s orthopedic clinic in Germany, he experienced an interest in working with children.

He has received many awards and recognition’s for his work. In 1992, he won the Best Books of the Year citation, the Publisher’s Weekly, the Notable Children’s Book citation, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Pick of the Lists citation, the American Booksellers Association, all for ‘Charlie Parker Played Be Bop’. In 1994, he received the Caldecott Honor Book Award and he was the ALA and US winner of the UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats award, both for ‘Yo! Yes?’. In 2005, he received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award nomination for ‘The Hello, Goodbye Window’.

Chris Raschka was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2006 for his illustrations in the ‘Hello, Goodbye Window’, written by Norton Juster (one of my hands down favorite authors since I was a kid and the author of the ‘Phantom Tollbooth’), a story about a child’s visit to her grandparents. In 2012, he won his second Caldecott Medal for his wordless children’s book, ‘A Ball for Daisy’, that chronicles a little dogs loss of his most prized possession and is a tale of loss, recovery and friendship. We were very lucky that he read from both of these books and from’ Yo! Yes?’

This was no ordinary author visit in that the author sat down, read the books and then led a discussion.  Chris got up and engaged the audience with storytelling, acting and illustrations. I have seen many book signings but none like this.

Chris could not have been more personable with both the adults and the children in the audience and had the younger set completely engaged in his books. We first started off with a introduction of his work and a little about himself. Chris started his program with a drawing of his two cats. These two amusing drawings of the little cats made quite an impression on the kids, many of whom had pets at home.

What impressed me the most is when he got the children from the audience to get up and act out his books in character. You don’t see many authors doing that. Chris had children who volunteered from the audience act out the books ‘Yo! Yes?’ , ‘Goosey Goose’ and ‘Buggy Bug’ in a series of short plays. The kids were really excited to get up and act. He also got the audience to participate as well .

Then he did a series of drawings creating pictures using people’s names. He took kids from the audience and asked them to write out their names and then developed a figure of the letters of the names.  The best part was each of the children were able to take the picture home. I have the most unusual picture of a person using the my name “Justin” (Yes, I did have it framed).

Raschka XII

Chris engaging with the children of Lodi, NJ

Chris followed this with a book discussion of the Caldecott Medal Winning book ‘A Ball for Daisy”, the all picture book. He went through all the frames of the book and then got a group of the children to get up and act out the book using some balloons as props for the ball. He really got the kids to use their emotions in the play and it made the rest of the program very personal because the children could relate to him as another kid. Chris knew how to enter their world.

During the question and answer session, the children had some very interesting questions on how he published his books, where he got his ideas and he put his books together. He even explained how he came up with the idea for ‘A Ball for Daisy’ on an incident that happened with son when he ball was damaged by a neighbors dog. He also discussed how long a book took to develop and where some of his inspirations came from. It really was nice participation from the audience.

To honor Chris’s visit, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presented him with an ‘Honorary Membership’ to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’ and our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Emil Carafa,  presented Chris with a Medal of Honor from the Borough of Lodi.

Raschka Visit XV

Chris receiving an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

It was a fun and engaging afternoon and we were very honored to have Christopher Raschka be our guest for the Second Annual ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ holiday celebration. We will see everyone next December for the Third Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” celebration.

Raschka Visit

Chris with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Articles on the Event:

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/1342/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

 

 

Tinkerstreet, the magical Christmas elf

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library: ‘The Legend of Tinker Street, the Magical Elf’ created by member, Justin Watrel December 10, 2016

Tinker Street, the Magical Elf

Tinker Street

 

                                                    The Legend of Tinker Street

(The Legend of Tinker Street was created by Justin Watrel for the holiday event, “Teens, Tots & Toys” for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library)

 

Teens, Tots & Toys Mascot, the holiday elf, Tinker Street, is a lovable little prankster who lives in the valley of the Catskills Mountains in which the downtown Main Street of Woodstock, NY is named after.

Tinker Street is a gregarious, generous elf who represents the happiness, generosity and thoughtful charity during the holiday season. Tinker Street does not represent one holiday but all holidays celebrated where love, family and get-togetherness are found. Coming out of his home only on December 1st of each year, you can never truly see Tinker Street. You can only feel him when good thoughts pass through you, when a good deed is done and when helping another person is done with great kindness.

Tinker Street II

Tinker Street is an elf of great kindness and tolerance and where you find him is in the understanding that no two holidays are alike so respect for all of them is very important. The true meaning from a visit from Tinker Street is the generosity to charity, the thoughtfulness of a distant family member or friend and looking back to the kindness and remembrance of someone who is gone but not forgotten. When we receive a visit from Tinker Street, we see only the best in ourselves and others around us.

When you see a big smile on someone’s face or happy laughter in a gathering, you know Tinker Street has been there. So to be part of the holiday celebration of “Teens, Tots & Toys”, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and experience the magic in the days ahead.

Tinker Street III

Only Tinker Street can add a certain joy to the holidays and that’s the symbol of “Teens, Tots & Toys”.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Teens, Tots & Toys Picture X

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library with World Champion Skater, Elaine Zayak, at the first “Teens. Tots & Toys” in 2015.

Raschka Visit V

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library at the Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with Best Selling Author Christopher Raschka in 2016.

Join us again at the Lodi Memorial Library next December for ‘Teens, Tots & Toys 2017’

The Tales of Flying Monkeys

Day Fifty-Nine: The Bergen County Zoo “Follows the Yellow Brick Road Back to the Lodi Memorial Library” for ‘Wizard of Oz’ themed event with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library November 10, 2016.

I have had to put my walk on hold again for a month as I was organizing another visit from the Bergen County Zoo to the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library decided to do a series of events with the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to You Library”.

Our first event was the visit from Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick and finished with a huge fundraiser at Friendly’s Restaurant in Woodland Park, New Jersey. We reached out to the Lodi Community and the surrounding towns with engaging, innovative programming that appeals to all ages.

This event featured two innovative programs that were created by the Bergen County Zoo exclusively for the library, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals” and “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”. Both programs included a reading of the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ tailored to that program.

Flying Monkeys

The Tales of Flying Monkeys was the first theme of the event

In the first program, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals”, zoo educator Carol Fusco created a program to show the children and their parents what animals live in a barnyard and what animals ‘Dorothy’ might have taken care of while working on the farm. She went through what animals are available to see at the zoo versus what animals you might  see on a working farm in New Jersey and beyond. She then asked the kids what animals they have seen recently to a very engaging discussion of what is in their own backyards.

Dorothy's Barnyard Animals

Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals was the second theme for the event

Then she brought out a special guest, ‘Butterscotch’ the chicken, who came out to visit us all the way from the Bergen County Zoo. This gentle little bird was so friendly I swear that she smiled at me. The kids just loved her and some of them got to pet her. I can tell you that that chicken did not blink and the kids got such a kick out of it (I could tell the parents did as well with the big smile on some of their faces).

FOLML Spring Event II

The second program, “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”, Carol and her partner from the zoo read a section of the book after Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West and how the monkeys were indebted to Dorothy for freeing them from the clutches of the evil witch. They explained who the monkey’s really were to the kids and made them less afraid of them. I thought it was an interesting they took that perspective on how misunderstood the characters were in the movie versus the book.

Flying Monkeys

“Tales of Flying Monkeys”

Then there was a discussion of mammals who fly and there place in the wild. There was an interesting discussion how animals fly and the place in nature that they had. The educators passed around pictures of different animals and explained how they live in the wild. For a program that was geared to kids from the first grade to third grade I really learned a lot. I never knew that much about animals from the perspective of the zoo keepers but it opened my eyes on their place in society. Plus I got a kick out of holding the chicken. It is really a great chicken.

We had about 30 people at the event and a mixture of age groups including a lot of parents and grandparents join us for the afternoon. I even had the parents walk up to me and say that they learned a lot as well. That made me feel good that the Friends could offer such a nice educational program that engaged the kids and got them off their cell phones. It was a younger crowd then I had thought we would attract but it seemed to me that the families all had a good time and were happy that the zoo came to them.

The program was followed by a light reception with all sorts of cookies, fresh fruit, wrap sandwiches and chicken fingers that were donated by Inserra ShopRite of Lodi. We want to thank them and Inserra Supermarkets for their support. Thank you!

For those who have never been to the Bergen County Zoo, it is a real treat. It is located in Paramus, New Jersey in the Van Saun Park off Forrest Avenue. It is a real treat and has a nice selection of animals to visit and more creative programming to experience. A big Thank you to Carol Fusco and her team for creating such a great program for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope you enjoyed the program.

Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library events:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

Day Fifty-Six: ‘Celebrating Books’-The 116th Anniversary of the novel, “The Wizard of Oz” with special guest, Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick with Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library September 29, 2016.

I took time out of my walk in Manhattan to run another event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends had planned a series of Fall events around the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to Your Library”, to encourage residents of Lodi to come back and see the changes at their library and in celebration of the 116th Anniversary of the novel “The Wizard of Oz”. In celebration of the books anniversary, we invited Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick to join in the celebration.

Miss New Jersey Flyer

Miss Weick is a 22 year old college graduate from Mantua, New Jersey. She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Communications from High Point University. She is the recipient of a number of scholastic awards including the High Point University Academic Achievement Award Scholarship and the Alpha Gamma Delta “Strive for Pi” Academic Excellence Award. She was the recipient of both the Miss New Jersey and Miss America Community Service Awards and earned the Bronze medal for participation in the Duke of Edinburgh program through the Miss America Organization.

Miss New Jersey 2016 X

This delightful afternoon started with a reading from the novel “The Wizard of Oz”, with Miss Weick reading to an audience of over 60 children and their parents. She read several passages on the trip to Oz and some of the background stories of the main characters.

The reading was followed by a Q & A on Miss Weick’s role as Miss New Jersey and being an ambassador of the Miss America Pageant. She also engaged the audience with her time at the recent Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. It was interesting to learn how the pageant worked, the experiences she had meeting all the other contestants and her role at the pageant as the home town favorite.

She also talked about the work she is doing all over the state with her platform “A World of Difference: Navigating the Cybersphere”, where her aim is to teach generations (young and old) how use the Internet safely and with integrity. She has utilized this platform to host seminars for parents and senior citizens in an attempt to bridge the gap that has been created with the growth of technology.

Miss Weick, in keeping with the theme of the event sang “Over the Rainbow” to the audience. Miss Weick had played the role of ‘Dorothy’ in her high school production of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ her senior year. It was a delight to the whole audience and everyone enjoyed it. We also asked if she could sing the song that she sang at the Miss America pageant ‘Someone like You’ from the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Her perfect rendition of the song brought the house down with a loud applause from the audience.

When the Q & A was over, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library made a special presentation to Miss Weick. Friends member Marie Shrieks made a presentation to Miss Weick from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library making her an ‘Honorary Member’ of the Friends of the Library and Library Director Karyn Gost presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the library staff. Councilwoman Patricia Licata from the Lodi Borough Council greeted Miss Weick as well.

Miss New Jersey 2016 IV.JPG

Patricia Licata, Brenna Weick and Justin Watrel at “Celebrating Books: the 116th Anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

After the program was over, Miss Weick stayed and signed autographed head shots from the pageant and “Wizard of Oz” books that the Friends were selling to raise money. She was engaging to residents and Friends of all ages.

The afternoon was followed by an light reception in Miss Weick’s honor that everyone was invited to that was sponsored by Shoprite of Lodi and we ended the afternoon with a showing in the upstairs screening room of the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland.

Miss New Jersey 2016 III

Justin Watrel presenting Brenna Weick an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

It was a wonderful afternoon to everyone who attended and the Friends got many compliments about the event. Hats off to Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick who is representing the State of New Jersey with grace and dignity and being a true “Friend of the Library”.

Miss New Jersey 2016 VII

Brenna Weick singing “Over the Rainbow” to the crowd

Think about joining the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

I want to credit this video to Marc Nazeh for this video at the Lodi Memorial Library

The video presentation of the wonderful afternoon on YouTube.

 

We asked Miss Weick to sing this song from the ‘Miss America Talent’ portion

 

Check out Articles on the Event and others for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:

 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/here-she-is-miss-new-jersey-visited-the-lodi-library-on-sept-29/93041492

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-was-on-hand-at-the-lodi-memorial-library-on-sept-29/93043200/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/09/22/miss-new-jersey-to-visit-the-lodi-public-library/93014556/

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/lifestyle/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-will-sing-read-at-lodi-library/681477/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

http://www.healthandlifemags.com/bergen/February-2017/Gatherings-Lodi-Memorial-Library/

https://ozmapolitan.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/oz-in-the-news-9-4-16/

https://tomp3.pro/Lodi-nj-library

http://bundari.klikini.xyz/wovinur/noaworix.php?fygkuhdg=brenna-weick

https://goodjerseys.co/miss-new-jersey/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/