Beacon Bicycle Menorah celebrates members of the community

This week, Beacon Hebrew Alliance (BHA) and BeaconArts partnered up to bring the community Illumin8tion, a public menorah-lighting ceremony located in Polhill Park.

This year, Illumin8tion presented the Beacon Bicycle Menorah, a giant menorah in which the “candles” are comprised of bicycle tires wrapped in colored lights. According to the Dutchess Tourism website, each night is dedicated to honoring different members of the community. The first night, which was last Sunday when Hanukkah began, was a celebration of the town’s educators, but on different nights of the week Illumin8tion will honor activists, first responders, volunteers, and other notable members of the community.

On Wednesday, the lighting was dedicated to the children of Beacon. Children and their parents gathered around the menorah and sang ‘This Little Light of Mine.’  The kids then formed a line leading up to the menorah, and passed the newly lit bicycle tire down the line to place atop the menorah. The activity was meant to show the children how they can work together to bring light into the world.  Then, the group recited prayers around the menorah. .

According to Ellen Gersh, the cantor from BHA, the idea for bicycle tires came from a local artist named Ed Benavente.  Benavente does a lot of work with recycled materials; in particular, he frequently uses bicycle parts in his art. Gersh said that Benavente first came up with the idea for the bicycle menorah about four years ago. Since then, the menorah has gained popularity throughout the community. Benavente even traveled to Washington D.C. to give a smaller bicycle menorah to President Obama during his tenure in office.

The event is meant to be a celebration of hope and light.  The Dutchess Tourism website reads, “Hannukah tells us that we can hope against all reason and sometimes, we will prevail. Sometimes, the mighty will fall before the weak, and sometimes, just a little bit of fuel will get us through the darkest night — or even eight of them, if need be.”

Illumin8tion will conclude on the last night of Hannukah on Sunday, December 9th.  BHA and BeaconArts will host a community Hanukkah party at 11, followed by the menorah lighting at 5:30. The final night will be a celebration of the community’s artists and musicians.

“I love seeing the community come together,” Gersh said. “In times of darkness, we have to have hope.”

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Road Trip to Radio City

On Dec. 2, students packed into three buses and embarked on a road trip to Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the annual Christmas Spectacular show starring The Rockettes.

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A ticket stub for the event taken in front amidst a crowded first floor at the beginning of the show.

“What I enjoyed most was being able to really get into the Christmas spirit. It is so hard to feel festive when we leave home and come back right when we would normally be doing different Christmas things at home,” said senior Emily Marold.  “Going into the city when it is all decorated and seeing the show make you realize it is the Christmas season and you’ll be home celebrating soon enough!”

After leaving campus around 9 a.m., the students arrived in the city around 11 a.m. and were given roughly two hours of free time to grab lunch or wander around the city before show time at 2 p.m.  While some students chose to take in the view of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, others took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with some friends in the area.

“This semester two of my best friends are doing Marist in Manhattan, so my friend that I went on the trip with and I met up with them for brunch at Toasties which was like a block away from Radio City!” said Marold.

“My twin sister and I ate lunch under Rockefeller Center and then walked to Central Park.  Other times we’ve gone on this trip we’ve done some shopping at the Christmas market in Bryant Park,” said senior Anna Bradford.

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Seniors Anna Bradford and Beatrix Bradford stop for a quick picture in Central Park during their free time before the show.

The Christmas Spectacular show was the last of this semester’s on-campus events hosted by Marist Student Activities (SA). This year, SA also sold tickets for three Broadway trips organized by the Marist Student Programming Council: Come From Away, Book of Mormon, and Dear Evan Hansen.

“I have been on [the Radio City] trip two other years, Freshman and Sophomore year, and I liked it a lot the other times too,” said senior Beatrix Bradford.

“For me, even though it’s generally the same show every year, I still enjoy it.  Aside from the cheap factor, this kind of trip is not something I normally would get to do so it’s been important that I take the most out of this opportunity,” said Anna Bradford.

Students are encouraged to follow SA on Instagram @marist_studentactivities for even more updates on what’s going on in the Student Center and other events around campus.

Aside from selling tickets for SPC’s Broadway trips, SA also hosted a wide array of off-campus events such as a bus ride to the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie premiere at the local movie theater, shopping trips to Woodbury Commons and New York City, and Six Flag’s Fright Fest.

Student Activities announce ticket sales weeks in advance of the planned trip or event and regularly update students on these dates and deadlines through their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Despite the long lines and hours of waiting, some students agree it is worth the wait.  “My favorite part about going on these shows is how cheap they are…We’ve definitely tried to take advantage of these deals because after graduation we’ll never have the chance to do this.  It also feels a lot safer than taking the train and you can just sleep on the way there and back,” said Marold.

Beatrix Bradford shared a similar sentiment.  “I like that you can go into the city for $25, and on top of that you get a ticket to the show. Yes, you have the limit of being on the bus and make the bus times-arrival and departure, but I think for the total savings it’s a small compromise to pay compared to a train ticket, and a show ticket.”

 

Michelle Obama Takes Memoir on the Road

Former first lady Michelle Obama and moderator Michele Norris addressed the crowd at TD Garden Saturday night.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

Looking around TD Garden, one thing strikes you about the crowd that is assembled on this particular Saturday night. It’s not the normal crowd for an arena that’s home to both Boston’s professional hockey and basketball teams.

Instead, the crowd is mostly female and extremely racially diverse. Their reason for being here is completely different: to see Michelle Obama’s new memoir Becoming, come to life.

Along with her book release, Obama also announced a tour to go along with it, where fans can gather to hear her stories in her own words. Boston is the fourth stop on her tour that started in her hometown of Chicago.

Boston holds a significant part in the Obama family storyline, where the discussion of Barack Obama running for president. Here in this exact spot, Barack gave his famous 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech which spiraled a discussion of Obama running for president.

Michelle, grounded as ever, didn’t think anything of the speech. Even afterward when all the chatter started, she didn’t think anything of it and was skeptical about Barack running for the presidency.

Everyone knows how that story turned out, but not everyone knows Michelle’s story.

In her memoir, Michelle talks about growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois in extremely tight quarters with her brother and parents. It follows her through her schooling, with her being stubborn at a very young age.

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Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble

In kindergarten, Michelle’s class had to read colors spelled out on index cards that their teacher held up. On the first try, Michelle got every word except for the last: white. Two of her classmates got all of them with their reward being a gold sticker. The next day, Michelle wanted to prove herself.

“The next morning in class, I asked for a do-over,” Michelle shares in her book. “I was quick to claim my trophy, though, heading home that afternoon with my head up and one of those gold-foil stars stuck on my shirt.”

That spirit followed Michelle through her college years at Princeton and Harvard University and when she hit the workforce.

That is until a man named Barack Obama came along and changed her perfectly laid out plans.

“He was the king of swerve,” Obama said at TD Garden on Saturday. That swerve led him all over the country, eventually landing in Chicago while Michelle was working at the same law firm that they met at.

The swerving led them all the way to the White House.

One of the hardest days was when the Obamas were leaving the White House before Trump’s inauguration, for different reasons other than the obvious one.

Michelle shared a story of how the night before, Sasha, their youngest daughter insisted on having one last sleepover with her friends in the White House.

At the last minute, Michelle was trying to “push crying girls through the doors”. She was so frantic that she didn’t have the time to reflect on the last eight years in that house.

It didn’t hit her until the helicopter ride over Trump’s inauguration crowd when she let herself go.

“I had been crying for thirty minutes,” she said.

When she saw the crown from the ariel view something else hit her though, this time about the crowd.

“There were people of all ages and all backgrounds, and, the crowd…,” Michelle paused, then whispered the last little bit. “It was bigger.”  

Hughes Represents Kids of Special Olympics in NYC Marathon

Senior Caroline Hughes was making her way down the Verrazano Bridge alongside 50,000 other runners on Sun., Nov. 4, when it hit her that she was not running her usual route on the Walkway Over the Hudson, but was participating in the New York City Marathon.

Although always an athlete, Hughes picked up running in college as a way to clear her mind and destress. Only four years later, she trained for her first marathon entirely by herself, and finished in an impressive 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“Running next to complete strangers who also have a passion for running was such an unbelievable motivation,” Hughes said. “It was really, really awesome.”

Hughes first began training last summer, but it became harder to increase her mileage when she returned to Marist as the school work piled on. During mid-semester break, however, Hughes finally had time to pick up the pace, and ran 18 and a half consecutive miles, her longest distance yet. After break, she hit the gym for strength training, and, with only a few weeks to go before the big day, focused on getting enough sleep and eating properly.

Hughes’ decision to run the marathon was inspired in part by the children she works with at Windham Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, where she volunteers in the winter. Many of the students she teaches there are a part of Special Olympics, an organization that helps children and adults with mental and physical handicaps participate in sports. While preparing for the race, Hughes fundraised alongside 15 other runners on the Special Olympics Team, collectively raising over $70,000 for the organization.   

On that Saturday before the race, Hughes picked up her race number at the NYC Marathon Expo, where she saw runners of all different shapes and sizes, speaking a wide array of languages. The night before the race, she was sent a heartfelt video from her friends and family,  who wished her luck. She also received a letter from a Special Olympics athlete with Down Syndrome, in which he thanked her for her fundraising efforts. By 11 a.m. the next morning, the day of the race, the few fears Hughes had experienced were well out of mind, and she was ready to go.

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Hughes poses outside the NYC Marathon Expo

At the starting line, Hughes’ was greeted by the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” a special moment she said she will always remember. Neon signs in hand, her friends and family were scattered along the route, cheering her on. As she ran throughout the city’s five boroughs, Hughes noticed how although the crowds changed, each brought something new and exciting to the race, and every bystander, even members of the homeless, were there to support her.   

“As a runner, I was running alone, but I never felt alone,” Hughes said. “There was just so many people cheering you on, even if they didn’t know you. It was such a moving experience to see all of the different people supporting you. It really unified the entire city.”

Hughes recalled mile 21 as her most challenging, but mentally related her pace to her route back home, to remind herself that she had completed similar distances before. For further motivation, she thought of the kids of Special Olympics, who had already gotten her this far.

When she reached Central Park, she realized she was almost done; after passing her family one last time, she crossed the finish line only a few miles away, and was instantly overcome with emotion.

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Hughes finished the NYC Marathon, her first, in 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“It was just a really unbelievable feeling, to know that I had just completed a marathon,” she said.

Despite the long day, and the lingering dehydration and leg pain, Hughes returned to Marist later that night. Her own reward for the once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment? Hughes skipped her 8 a.m. the next morning, and slept in until her 11 o’clock class.

“I didn’t want to give myself too much time to rest,” she said. “I had to keep going again.”

Hughes said her favorite part of the experience was running along 1st Avenue to “Empire State of Mind,” while passing her friends and family. In the future, Hughes intends to run more marathons, but wants to race in other cities to see how their environments differ from New York’s.  

“At the end of the day, I was extremely proud of myself, because I was able to set a goal, and stick to a commitment, regardless of other things going on at the time,” Hughes said. “[Receiving letters from Special Olympic athletes] showed me that I am very blessed to run for something that is bigger than myself. It was really special, and something that I’ll never forget doing.”  

Study Abroad: “Complex but Worth it”

Colleges and Universities across the globe offer numerous study abroad programs and even encourage this form of study.

“I think it is important for young adults to get out and see the world.  So many of us are stuck in a little bubble without even realizing it,” said Maya Guzman, Marist College Junior.

Colleges and Universities aren’t the only types of schools that offer overseas programs.  Many high schools offer the opportunity as well through a certain Rotary club.

“I was so young when I decided to leave my home for a year to study in Brazil.  I had barely just turned 16 years old and I walked onto a plane knowing I wouldn’t be home for a year; it was the most surreal moment of my life.” said Christina Schumchyk, Stony Brook University Junior.  “I just knew there was more to see. I come from such a small town and I felt so isolated, I knew I needed to get free and explore,” continued Schumchyk.

According to research conducted by NAFSA, roughly 325,339 U.S. students studied abroad for college credit in 2016.  The enrollment increased by 3.8 percent from the previous year.

https://www.nafsa.org/Policy_and_Advocacy/Policy_Resources/Policy_Trends_and_Data/Trends_in_U_S__Study_Abroad/

The Power of International Education organization conducted research that concludes more women than men study abroad each year with an approximate 70 to 30 ratio.  There is also a higher number of undergraduate students going abroad compared to graduate students with a rough 90 to 10 ratio.

https://www.iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Open-Doors/Data/US-Study-Abroad/Student-Profile

So where are these students going?  The U.S. Study Abroad Data from the 2017 Open Doors Report claims about 12% of students choose to study in the United Kingdom, nearly 11% in Italy, and 9% in Spain.

“Going to London was important to me because it seemed to be the most centralized destination.  I figured from there I had pretty easy access to every other country and city I wanted to visit, which is exactly what I did,” said Erin Greco, Siena College Graduate.  

“I would do it all over again and I am a huge advocate for current students going abroad.  There is nothing like it.” said Greco.

Rachel Thayer, a Junior at Marist College, described the process of going abroad “complicated but worth it.”  “There is just so much that goes into it and so much I didn’t fully understand. So many government documents are needed and you really have to take everything into consideration.  I mean you are leaving your home country for a full semester.” said Thayer.

Thayer expressed that the process shouldn’t discourage students from traveling and studying abroad.

“Once you are here, once you sit in a class, once you are eating your first meal, it all just falls into place.  You take a sigh of relief and just feel grateful for the opportunity.” continued Thayer.

Historic Graveyard Tour returns at St. James’ Church

It was 8 p.m. on a Friday evening and the weather was chilly at 40 degrees. The 200-year old graveyard at St. James’ filled up with an eager crowd holding lanterns. People of all ages attended, dressed in their winter gear. The tour was about to begin.

St. James’ Church in Hyde Park kicked off their 9th season with their annual Historic Graveyard Tour. Originally a run up for the bi-centennial church celebration in 2011, the tour has remained a popular event for many years. In fact, 200 people turned out for the first tour that the crowd had to be split into three groups. “My family and I look forward to the tour every year. I’m always amazed by the production. It’s definitely one of the biggest highlights for the church,” said parishioner Stephanie Carson.

The tour consisted of approximately eight actors stationed in different parts of the cemetery. Each of the actors played characters who were buried at St. James’ Church. Around half of the actors are parishioners, and half are not. Every year has non-coincidentally turned into a different theme for the tour. One year the theme was slavery, while another year the tour concentrated on disabilities. This year, the focus was on those who were connected to the First World War. The script is written by a committee of parish volunteers who plan months in advance for the momentous parish event.

The crowd followed the dark path of the graveyard, led by a host for the hour. Each actor described their character’s background and major roles they took on in life. Dressed in costume of the era, characters ranged from Red Cross personnel, soldiers, lieutenants and even chefs to President Roosevelt.

The host for the evening, Russell Urban-Mead led the crowd in an animated voice and took the group to each stationed actor. A family affair–Urban Mead’s wife, Wendy was the director of the tour this year. Smiling, he sat in a church pew before the start of the 8:00 p.m. tour, enthusiastic for the evening. “It’s an exciting time for our parish where everyone comes together to work on the tour. There is a lot of history that many people do not even know about, just in front of our eyes in the 200-year old cemetery,” Urban-Mead admits.

The Rev. Chuck Kramer has been at St. James’ Church for 21 years. He made his debut appearance as an actor in this year’s tour. Kramer played Ogden Livingston Mills, U.S Secretary of the Treasury during Herbert Hoover’s presidency. Kramer was the first actor for the evening, and passionately depicted the spirit of Mills with his gestures and keen storytelling.

Recounting the intention of the tour, Kramer sat in his office, filled with books, sacred embellishments and bright colors. “There are three goals of the tour. One is to entertain. One is to inform and one is to inspire,” Kramer said.

Partakers of the St. James’ Historic Graveyard Tour can expect to be educated on major roles individuals played during World War I. It is a night to learn about the lives of the souls who rest in the church’s cemetery.

Kramer is proud of the impact the tour has left on people for the past eight years as well as the light it sheds on history. “The tour makes people come alive in a way that tugs at   the heart and has people thinking ‘wow.’ It engages both the funny bone and the heart,” Kramer said.

The tour runs for three weeks in October on Friday and Saturday night’s starting at 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and proceeds go to the on-going ministry and outreach of the church.

(from left to right) Pete Bedrossian, playing the role of (William) Gerald Morgan.

Andrew William Gordineer, 21, playing the role of William T. White.

Reverend Chuck Kramer in his parish office at St. James’ Church.

 

 

Alzheimer’s Walk Held At Walkway

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On Saturday, the Dutchess County chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association held their annual walk on Poughkeepsie’s Walkway Over the Hudson.

The walk starts over on the Highland side of the Walkway and then is a total of two miles, but you can either walk for a longer or shorter distance.  

For an overcast day, the walk had many volunteers and many walkers show up for the cause. Sue Serino, a New York State Senator, and Karen Smythe, a candidate for the New York State Senate were among the many participants at the walk. Music was played by 92.9, a local radio station, to get the walkers ready for the two-mile walk ahead of them.

David Sobel, the President and CEO of the Hudson Valley chapter, was also in attendance. Sobel is in charge of overseeing both the Dutchess and Ulster County walks. “My job is to make sure that we work year-round to get teams together,” Sobel said. “We try to make sure they do as much fundraising as possible.”

For fundraising, each walker sets up their own page on the Alzheimer’s Association website and then can post the link to their page on their social media platforms or email the page to friends and family where they can make donations. If a walker raises more than 500 dollars, they are part of the Champions Club. People can register for the walk on the same day, and no donation is necessary to walk.

Shortly before the walk started, emcee of the event shared with the crown that over $16,000 had been raised by the participant of the walk.

Sobel also shared that the walk would not be possible without the efforts of its many volunteers.

“We host a kickoff event and have monthly meetings for our volunteers,” Sobel said. “We also send them out into their communities to meet people affected by this disease.”

Many of the volunteers have their own connections to the disease and volunteer as a way to spread awareness about the disease throughout their communities.

After the walkers check in and get their wristbands which enables them to participate in the walk, they can go pick out a flower. Each color flower represents a different connection to the Alzheimer’s disease. Purple meant that you knew someone who has died from the disease and orange meant that you had the disease yourself. Either before or after the walk, people placed their flowers in stacks of hay.

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Local vendors such as Simple Gourmet and local police and fire stations donated food and drink to the cause for the walkers to enjoy either before or after the walk.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization that helps raise awareness through its local chapters through its walks and their volunteers. The money that the walkers raise all go towards finding a cure for this disease.

 

 

Educational Nonprofit for Students Struggles to Find Visibility

In a small auditorium in New York City’s Union Square, the sound of pounding rain competed with the clacking of laptop keys. Max Robins, President and Executive Director of the Center for Communication, stepped up to the microphone, and students of every age tore their attention away from their screens to listen.

Robins introduced himself, his esteemed panel, and the topic of that night’s discussion: Storytelling Through Virtual Reality. Robins ended with the Center for Communication’s mission statement, “We want to open the doors for the next generation of diverse media leaders” said Robins.

Based in Brooklyn, New York, The Center for Communication is a nonprofit centered around providing free seminars for students during which they can listen to and meet influential leaders in the media community. The Center offers between 25 to 40 events per year, all free for students.

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Storytelling Through Virtual Reality event on Oct. 11

Prior to becoming the president of the Center for Communication, Robins worked as a journalist,  a childhood dream of his. “I wanted to write for great magazines and newspapers, but that world has shrunk now,” said Robins.“But, it’s ever-changing.”

Marcelle Hopkins, Co-Director of Virtual Reality and Deputy Director of Video at The New York Times, was one of the panel members. She revealed to the student audience, “Every job I’ve had since graduating college didn’t exist when I was a student.”

During the seminar Hopkins spoke to students about the importance of learning to tell a story. She claimed anyone can learn to use the technology necessary for virtual reality, but not everyone can tell a story well. “Events like these are important because they show students what’s out there for them, what they can do.”

One problem the Center for Communication currently faces is outreach. Farrah Thomson, a student at The New School in Manhattan, saw a flyer for the event and decided to go. “This is my first time going to one of their events,” said Thomson, “but I want to attend more in the future. I’m surprised the organization isn’t promoted more.”

One upcoming event Robins is particularly excited about is the Diversity and Media Career Summit on November 19. Based off the popular Women and Media Career Summit the Center has hosted for the past two years, the day-long event features keynote speakers, panels, and workshops. “We decided to create this because we have seen a growing need for diversity in media careers,” said Robins.

Past seminar topics have included journalism, filmmaking, public relations, publishing, and First Amendment issues. “We want to break down barriers between students and the industry,” Robins commended. “We encourage people to be lifelong students.”

In the future the Center for Communication hopes to offer events across the United States and, eventually, internationally.

Robins’ favorite aspect about the Center’s panels is the wealth of knowledge displayed before him. “If I run a panel, not only am I learning from the speakers, but I’m learning from the questions our attendees ask,” he explained, “The students inspire me with their eagerness to learn.”

 

Historic Walkway Undergoes Renovations

The Walkway Over the Hudson has served as a popular attraction for both tourists and locals since its opening in 2009 as a State Historic Park. Today, the site is undergoing changes to ensure parkgoers have an even more positive experience.

The walkway’s nearly 600,000 visitors have been asked to pardon its appearance as construction on a Dutchess Welcome Center and a new elevator has begun.

Located near the parking lot, the 1,800-square-foot Dutchess Welcome Center is set to include amenities such as an outdoor patio, a dog-friendly water fountain, bike racks, and bathrooms, according to an article from The Poughkeepsie Journal. A new staircase will also be added to give visitors access to the walkway from Orchard Place.

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Images with the design of the new welcome center is posted on the fence outside of the construction site

The addition of a welcome center on the Dutchess side follows the unveiling of a similar center in Ulster County in June.

 

Many individuals, especially older visitors, have expressed a great deal of excitement towards the new bathrooms. Prior to construction, people could only utilize portable toilets set up near the parking lot.

Aside from bathrooms, visitors also expressed that they would like to see an additional concession stand providing snacks, light fare, and water incorporated into the welcome center.

“I just think overall it’s a good concept that they’re trying to provide better facilities for people because this is an attraction,” stated Matt Kravits, a Somers, NY resident.

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The new Dutchess Welcome Center is currently under construction and is set to open in the spring of 2019

Construction on the welcome center began in April, as stated by one of the walkway’s ambassadors, and is set to be completed by spring 2019 prior to the park’s 10th anniversary.

 

Currently, the welcome center appears to be in its initial phases of construction. Cinder block walls have been resurrected, and the structure is encased along with construction equipment by a chain-link fence. A sign posted on the fence provides visitors with images of the future site in addition to information on what to expect.

The materials and equipment being used for the construction site itself are being stored in areas that serve as parking spaces. Approximately 36 parking spaces, included those designated for handicapped individuals, seem to be taken up by the activity.

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Construction materials can be seen taking up several parking spaces

According to the walkway’s ambassadors, however, there have been no complaints concerning less parking spaces available. Additionally, the Walkway Over the Hudson is offering free parking in the lots due to the ongoing project.

 

In addition to the welcome center, the Walkway Over the Hudson will also debut an improved elevator system by the spring.

The new elevator will rely on an “encased energy chain upgrade,” which will replace the wireless-based communication system. The wireless-based system was discovered to be sensitive to the changing weather conditions of the region, as reported by the Mid Hudson Valley Patch. This energy chain system is anticipated to extend seasonal usage and improve reliability.

While construction on this project has not begun yet, the elevator remains closed to visitors until the construction is completed. Signs explaining the closure are posted at both the Dutchess and Ulster sides of the walkway along with a phone number to inquire about the elevator’s status.

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Signs warning of the elevator’s closure are located at both ends of the walkway

 

“I think they should definitely prioritize having the elevator accessible sooner than later,” shared Sue Kravits, a New York resident visiting with her husband, Matt. “I believe that it just opens it up to people that have disabilities and can’t access it another way, and that just would be a really goodwill sort of thing to do for the community and for those that want to use it.”

In regards to both the elevator and the welcome center, John Fila, another visitor from Greenwood Lake, NY, said, “I think anything they could do to make more parks and stuff more friendly for more people to enjoy, the better off [it] is.”

Poughkeepsie Gets Greek Culture

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Pictured: Member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church preparing loukoumades

 

Located in the heart of Poughkeepsie, the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church hosted it’s bi-annual Poughkeepsie Greek Festival.

This four day event held at the Hellenic Community Center attracted over 10,000 people. This festival is a celebration of the food, music, and the culture of the Hellenic people. The proceeds of the event went to the church’s programs.

 

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Pictured: Andrea Miller, long time member of Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church

 

Andrea Miller has been a member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church for over 45 years and has been a part of the festival since its inception. “The fact that the Greek community comes together and we work for weeks ahead of time baking and cooking, it’s apart of our heritage,” stated Miller. “The fact that this event has been going on for over 40 years proves that it serves its purpose.

People attending this event feel like they are being immersed into another culture when they attend this festival. Many locals attend every year because to this, it is not an event that can be missed.

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Pictured: Millbrook students dancing to traditional Greek music

Although there was no live music and dancing featured at this event attendees danced together to the music the DJ played. This showed the camaraderie as members of the community learned how to dance to Greek music.

“I come every year, twice a year, and I have been for over 15 years. This is not an event that I can miss,” said Yolanda Harris, a Poughkeepsie native. “I like some of the music, I just like being out and seeing different people, different cultures, different races, and I also like to go into the shops that they have here to see what is different from my heritage,” said Harris.

To add to the overall authenticity of the event, the festival this weekend focused on the food.

John Giogakis, is the president of the Parish Council at Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church, and has been working at this event for four years. “People come for our Greek food, everything here is handmade, made to order, and people love the food,” Giogakis stated.

This focus proved to be successful as attendees raved about the quality of the food.

“It has really good food. The atmosphere is extremely inviting, I have been to other Greek festivals but this is by far the best one,” said Frank Davis, Boston native who came to Poughkeepsie just to attend the festival.

Among the food options were, gyros, greek fries, souvlakis, loukoumades, and other traditional Greek food.

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Pictured: Greek fries that were sold at the festival

“It was Greek, very Greek. The food is very similar to the types of foods that I eat at home,” said Cady Anderson, a high school student at Millbrook High School.

This unique event showcases the Greek culture to the local community. Every year it attracts more people and becomes more popular.

“Basically the purpose of this event is our Greek heritage, and giving it to Poughkeepsie. The fact that over 10,000 people have come in four days is truly amazing,” said Giogakis.