Many have driven straight past Farmingville Hills Park on Horseblock/Portion Road without noticing its beauty and potential. The 102 acre lot, complete with a hiking trail and bird sanctuary, is now home to the Summer Family Fun Series, a little over a month long string of Tuesday events for the whole family. Thanks to the Farmingville Historical Society, the Farmingville Residents Association and the proud and dedicated citizens of Farmingville; the community's youth now has a space to play, learn and enjoy all summer.
"The kids can be proud to live here," said Pam Salamone from Farmingville who is ecstatic about the community togetherness and rejuvenation the series provides. "It's amazing what some people with great ideas can do; one person can make a difference and the kids will learn by example," she continues.
The first event in the series, Story Time with Danielle DeLorenzo, principal of Lynwood Elementary School and Ann Marie Fiore, kindergarten teacher at Lynwood Elementary School; was a success despite the weather. The elementary school age children patiently listened to DeLorenzo, Fiore and several other students as they read books such as "Sunflower House" by Eve Bunting and "Shark Vs. Train" by Chris Barton.
With a stamped hand, the children received a free slice of pizza from Village Pizza and a free ice cream from Ralph's Famous Italian Ice, both also on Horseblock/Portion Road.
DiLorenzo, who volunteered to read after seeing the flyer for the events, was happy to see the large turnout and the teachers who were willing to come on their summer break. Fiore was asked by a mother in her class and also felt it was important to see the teachers participate.
She found a surprise guest in her bag upon arrival: her class puppets Slow Down Snail and Impulsive Puppy. Both puppets have personality traits that keep the students focused and ready to read in class. While Slow Down Snail is more calming, the children can relate to Impulsive Puppy, who has a lot of energy. The puppets were a welcomed addition to Story Time and did in fact keep the children interested and focused.
Marissa Pizza, a resident and member of FRA and Sustainable Long Island, became a member of FHS after she found out that there was an effort to do something with the park. The efforts to revitalize the park, she feels, brought all three groups and the community together and has been a great way to meet neighbors who are working towards the betterment of the community.
"When else would you be happy about double-parked cars?," said Pizza reflecting on the turnout.
After six months of planning, Michael Underhill, one of the FRA directors, hopes that the series will shed a more positive light on a community that has been stereotyped and ridiculed. After the scene of the first event of the series, there is no doubt that will be a reality. The evening was an optimistic start to a new life for Farmingville.
To learn more about the summer series, click here.