“It’s a day for the town to get together, show off our assets, have a fun day with the kids, and also to educate the public at large as to the history of the town, especially the hamlet areas we love,” said town supervisor Rob Stanley, who is once again organizing the event.
The festival location rotates each year through the various hamlets of the township. This year, Chichester, Phoenicia, and Woodland Valley will be celebrated, as attendees enjoy live music, games, over 50 vendors, barbeque, and award ceremonies honoring local community members.
The music will begin in the morning with the Ben Rounds Band, the Phoenicia Community Choir — fresh from a performance at the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice — and a Native American drumming group. The closing act, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. will be Earl Pardini and the Slide Mountain String Band.
Games throughout the day will include sack races, inner tube relays, the ever-popular watermelon-eating contest, and much more. Kids will be roaming through town on a scavenger hunt, carrying a sheet of photos of details of buildings in town — a portion of a sign, a cornice. Participants will write down the location each detail they find. A complete set of correct answers will yield a small prize, and a drawing for a larger prize will be held at the end of the day.
The Shandaken Cup competition will be held, the third annual round-robin tug-of-war among the emergency services departments. “So far, each home fire department has won in its own hamlet,” noted Stanley. “We’ll see if Phoenicia can make a good showing this year. It’s always fun watching a bunch of big, burly guys and girls pulling away.”
The fire departments will also be providing what Stanley calls “some of the best barbeque in the Catskills. I hear they got their hands on a Fryolator and will be making fried dough. There will be chicken, fries, carnival fare.”
Also on hand will be local bird lady Gloria Waslyn and her Parrots for Peace, a trio of blue-and-yellow macaws who will happily pose for photos with visitors. Another photo op will be available for pairs of people who wish to stand with their heads replacing cutouts of the American Gothic farmers, emblazoned with the title, “Shandaken Day 2011, Phoenicia, NY.”
The awards ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Pride of Shandaken award will be presented to Lowell Smith of Phoenicia and Charlie Berryann of Mount Tremper. The Hamlet Heroes designation will be awarded posthumously to Neil Grant of Chichester, for many years town supervisor, and to Mickey Simpson of Woodland Valley, one of three brothers who ran a local ski slope from 1935 into the late 70s. Simpson Minipark, at the corner of Main Street and Route 214 is named for him.
A Hamlet Hero award will also go to Margaret Nolte, long-time proprietor of the Phoenicia Delicatessen.
The awards recognize community service over the lifetimes of the recipients. “We’re slowly losing many of people who know the history of our towns,” commented Stanley, noting that one of last year’s award winners, Hank Bernstein, town councilman Vincent Bernstein’s father, died a few weeks ago. Added Stanley, “We’re trying to recognize people who have never been recognized for their efforts.”
The event is scheduled to end at 6 p.m. so attendees can dine at local restaurants.++
Shandaken Day will be held on Saturday, August 27, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., in the Parish Field on Ava Maria Drive in Phoenicia. Admission is free, and all are welcome.
The spirit remains
Helen Cordo mourns, and Shandaken does, too
by Violet Snow
“It’s just a shame. What can you say?” lamented Helen Cordo, Phoenicia resident and grandmother of Pfc. Douglas Cordo, slain in Afghanistan. “I have a picture of him — he might have been four or five years old, and he was dressed in an army outfit. It was what he wanted to do — serve his country. There’s no loss worse than a child. I’ve been there. James was murdered 10 years ago.”
Mrs. Cordo lost one of her two sons when he was killed in a parking lot in Hunter. Now 82, she was formerly a special education and inclusion aide at Phoenicia Elementary School, later working in the library. When her job was cut from the budget, she continued to serve as a volunteer for two years, greeting the children every morning as they walked into the school.
“I’m 82 now,” said the still vigorous redhead, explaining why she retired a few years back. “If I can’t give my all...Thank God I’m in pretty good shape, but I do have ‘things.’ I wouldn’t do that to the kids. I run into them all the time in town, and they say, ‘You were crazier than we were.’ They happen to be right, I was. I never had a problem with the kids.”
She expressed appreciation for her neighbors who have called and stopped in to visit her since her grandson’s death. “We live in a special place. You’re not alone even if you live alone. This place is a haven. There’s good people all over, but we’ve got an overabundance of them. James was seven months old when we moved up here in 1969. I grew up in Queens. At 15, I was still out playing hide-and-seek. Nowadays kids have to grow up so fast. That’s what keeps me going, the memories of the kids.”
Meanwhile, she is mourning her grandson. “It’s hard, but he’s up there with my son James. We do what we can do. The body is gone, but the spirit remains — that’s what keeps me going.”
Flags in Shandaken are at half-mast this week in honor of young Cordo, and Shandaken Day, on Saturday, August 27, will be dedicated to him.++