06/14/14 5:40pm
06/14/2014 5:40 PM
Last year's queen Leah  LaFreniere (left) with the new queen, Jasmine Clasing of Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Last year’s queen Leah LaFreniere (left) with the new queen, Jasmine Clasing of Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Southold teen Jasmine Clasing was crowned Strawberry Queen Saturday at the 60th annual Mattituck Lions Club’s Strawberry Festival.

Clasing, 17, takes over the crown from Leah LaFreniere.  (more…)

11/01/13 10:00am
11/01/2013 10:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Dozens of kids in costume celebrated Halloween last night at the Mattituck Lions Club.

The Mattituck Lions Club held its annual Halloween celebration Thursday evening. Dozens of kids in costume marched in a parade from the firehouse to the school gym, where they were treated to a party complete with DJ and light show.

Judges Joanne Dougherty of Bridgehampton National Bank, 2013 Strawberry Queen Leah LaFreniere, and Love Lane Kitchen owner Carolyn Iannone awarded prizes in several categories.

Some of the winners included:
Ages 0 to 3: Brendan Erickson, 2, for scariest costume; Ellie McKenna, 2, for cutest; Mason Sterling, 18 months, for most original.

Ages 4 to 7: Charlie Pasca, 7, for cutest costume; Cormac Orlowski, 6, for scariest; Mikael Rice, 6, for most original.

Ages 8 to 10: Avianna Merkel, 8, for cutest costume; Ethan Evers, 9, for scariest; Ben Dufton, 9, for most original.

Ages 11 to 13: Rhiannon Cherney, 11, for scariest costume; Michael Wineberger, 12, for most original.

06/23/13 12:50pm
06/23/2013 12:50 PM

With financial help from the Mattituck Lions Club, Eastern Long Island Hospital recently acquired a new piece of X-ray equipment for children age 3 and under.

Though the name of the device, the Pigg-O-Stat, may sound more kid-friendly than doctor-friendly, hospital officials said it’s crucial to pediatric care.

The Pigg-O-Stat is a “pediatric immobilizer and positioner” designed to hold infants and young children in place for chest x-rays. That spares parents and hospital personnel, who previously had to hold the child still, from unnecessary radiation exposure.

“The most difficult image to capture is one of a small child,” ELIH radiology technician Nancy Ryan said. “How can you expect a crying baby or toddler to understand the concept of not moving?”

According to the product’s website, the Pigg-O-Stat “gives better quality radiographs with more precise positioning and radiation protection in less than one-tenth of normal time.”

The equipment has already been used several times.

“The new immobilizer works beautifully to keep the child still and in position, ensuring a quality image the first time,” said Ms. Ryan.

It’s adjustable for young children of normal size for their age, comes with form-fitting Plexiglas body, head and arm supports and is easily sterilized, according to the manufacturer.

“Acquiring new pediatric imaging equipment such as the Pigg-O-Stat illustrates to the community that ELIH is here to provide care to all ages in our local community,” said Paul Con-nor, hospital president and CEO. “We are constantly looking for new and improved technology that translates to excellence in patient care.”

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06/15/13 8:00am
06/15/2013 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Ripe strawberries at Patty’s Berries & Bunches in Mattituck.

Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside?

Or that strawberries are a member of the rose family indigenous to every continent save Africa and Australia plus New Zealand? Or that if you took the more than one billion strawberries California produces each year and laid them side by side they’d circle the globe several times?

Are you wondering why in heaven’s name I’m prattling on about freakin’ strawberries?

That’s a good question, actually. But as Father’s Day draws nigh, that means it’s strawberry season, a special time for fruitophiles, meself included. Apples are awesome, grapes great and peaches, um, peachy, but none of those seasons are as highly anticipated or cherished as the one that gives us the red, red conical fruit of the Fragaria ananassa plant.

Sure, having strawberries available in the supermarket for most of the winter diminishes the excitement somewhat, like watching “Elf” or some other Christmas movie in August. And when I was a kid, Ma Kelly, born in Manhattan and raised in Yonkers, thought it great country fun to take us little ones out into the middle of nowhere to pick strawberries. To this day I wonder why we were punished so.

There we were, pale skinned and freckled, on our hands and knobby knees in the dirt, scrounging for tiny little berries because the farmer barked at us to stay clear of the rows with the enticing big, luscious, juicy berries.

My mother-in-law lived for strawberry season, punctuating every evening meal during those too-few June days with homemade strawberry shortcake. Over the years, the dinners shrank in size until one year meat and vegetables vanished completely and strawberry shortcake was the only item on the menu.

From what I’m told, no one objected — ever.

But nobody makes a bigger deal about strawberries than the Mattituck Lions Club, which this weekend will put on the 59th annual Strawberry Festival at the aptly named Strawberry Fields, um, field on the North Road. One of the highlights is the naming of a new strawberry queen.

I’m not a Lion, I don’t grow strawberries and I don’t reside in Mattituck, but my family is forever linked with that event.

Ten years ago, daughter Caitlin, then a very serious and studious high school junior, surprised me and the Mrs. by putting her name in contention for strawberry queen. Hey, why not? It’s not like the national beauty pageants that critics love to hate on as sexist, exploitive and demeaning to women. There’s no swimsuit competition and no one expects the contestants to pledge their lives with dubious sincerity to securing world peace. It’s just a fun, little retro North Fork event, a cousin to Riverhead’s equally popular Polish Town queen contest, a key component of the Polish Town Street Fair each August.

And wouldn’t you know it, Cait became a finalist! No, no, I don’t mean to sound surprised. It’s just that it was so out of character for a girl who, at age 9 or so, requested a Tarot card reading at a Renaissance Fair in Maryland and, when asked if she was interested in boys and clothes, deadpanned, “No, money and careers.” The card reader damn near keeled over.

But she donned a long white dress and attended the Lions Club dinner with the other finalists. The young ladies went from table to table introducing themselves to the people whose votes would determine the next queen. Later, each reached into a goldfish bowl and pulled out a question to be answered off the cuff.

When one young lady got “What’s your favorite cartoon character?” I thought this a cakewalk. Then Cait drew her question: “How would you describe a rainbow to a blind person?”

Hoo-boy. Yes, I’m biased (a newspaper editor?) but I think she acquitted herself well. Can’t say I actually heard her response over the sound of me nervously tapping my teaspoon against my front teeth.

Alas, she was not destined for strawberry royalty. Instead, the tiara went to some girl from Laurel. Oh well, she had fun and an interesting experience.

But wouldn’t you know it? Years later that girl from Laurel, Lindsay Lessard — whose mom, Diane, had been queen in 1978 — became family upon marrying our firstborn, Ryan Patrick Kelly.

Since both my kids are redheads and there are strawberry queen finalists and winners on both sides, it’s possible, if not probable, that any grandkids could be “gingers” and perhaps include a queen candidate.

We never did have a priest in the family, or a doctor, but I think Ma’s happy we’ve got at least one queen, and maybe more.

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06/04/13 4:30pm
06/04/2013 4:30 PM

CLAIRE LEADEN PHOTO | The nominees for this year’s Strawberry Queen are (from left) Jasmine Clasing, Rebecca Piraino, Brittney Longley, Leah LaFreniere and Olivia Vayer.

Wearing a fancy dress and schmoozing some judges isn’t all it takes to win the coveted title of the Mattituck Strawberry Queen, for this is not your average beauty pageant.

The five finalists for Queen all impressed the judges last Thursday at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue. Dressed to impress, the five girls answered a variety of questions from judges and the audience.

The five finalists are:

• Brittney Longley, Mattituck High School

Olivia Vayer, Mattituck High School

• Rebecca Piraino, Mattituck High School

• Leah LaFreniere, Southold High School

• Jasmine Clasing, Southold High School

The dinner is an opportunity for the girls to show the judges who they are.

“We want to know what they will stand for, what they believe in,” said Katherine Fritz, one of the three judges. “That’s an important part of our mission. We notice girls that are very personal and open up to talk about their life, their friends and family and their issues.”

Seventeen girls entered essays for this year’s competition. The winner is crowned June 15 at the Strawberry Festival.

To read more about each contestant and the selection process, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times.

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07/31/12 7:00am
07/31/2012 7:00 AM

William Araneo, a vice president at Bridgehampton National Bank, has been named the Mattituck Lions Club “Lion of the Year,” according to the organization.

Mr. Araneo, a Cutchogue resident, is a 21-year-member and former president of the club.

“William had 100 percent attendance at club meetings and events, served as the chairman of the club finance committee and played an important role as the secretary for the Strawberry Festival, the club’s largest and most significant fundraising event,” said former president Jack Hamilton. “His enthusiasm to the goals of the Lions Club are exceptional.”

Mr. Araneo said that when he received the award he was accepting it on behalf of all of the club’s members, whom he felt all deserved the recognition.

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