Written by Michael Plunkett Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:00
Sean Patrick Sullivan wears $30 linen underwear, $50 socks and a $150 hat. It’s not vanity that makes him dress so expensively. It’s duty. He is, after all, a Sergeant Major in the 52nd New York of the Union Volunteers, and he is fighting to save The Union. Well, not actually fighting, but reenacting the United States’ bloodiest conflict, the American Civil War.
“To be honest it’s more of a passion,” said Sullivan, a 29-year-old Floral Park native, whose full-time job is with National Grid. “To call it a hobby feels wrong.”
Sullivan is part of a reenactor movement that has been around for decades, and with the Civil War in its sesquicentennial, there are as many as 40,000 reenactors nationwide.
On Long Island, at least eight groups exist, with an estimated 400 members overall. Nationally, it is estimated there are as many as 40,000 reenactors. Sullivan is a member of the Union Volunteers, who currently have more than 500 members. They are a Floral Park-based group that he first encountered at a New Hyde Park street fair at age 16. He enlisted soon after.
“In high school, everyone got Playstations for Christmas,” he said. “I was getting Mort Kuntsler paintings and reenacting gear.”
Reenactments or “events,” as they are called by insiders, are active portrayals of specific events that occurred in history. For some reenactors, the hobby goes beyond the battlefield.
“We have guys who do the whole event in first-person. They do research through archives and diaries of actual soldiers and they adopt that person’s life for the weekend,” he said. “Like I said, it’s not just a hobby.”
And it many find it contagious.
“We’ve always got new guys coming in,” said Sullivan. “I can guarantee you one of my friends is at home right now wearing a kepi [the distinctive solider hat of the era], sewing part of a uniform, and watching the movie Gettysburg. I just know it.”
But, Sullivan insists, it’s more than just weekend fun. Like many reenactors, he sees it as a way of coming closer to history. History that is given little attention in most public schools.
“One period in history class. That is all you get for the Civil War,” said Sullivan, shaking his head. “Forty-two minutes and you’re done.”
An “event” will take place usually around the authentic time period of a battle. For instance, The Battle of Gettysburg occurred from July 1-3 in 1863, so a reenactment will take place at some point during July as opposed to a colder month. Events take place as close to the original date as possible in order to replicate the weather conditions of the actual battle. Numbers of participants vary from event to event since multiple events are hosted for the same battle. Around the time of the 150th anniversary of Antietam, there were two reenactments taking place within a week of each other. So the number of reenactors present was split between the two events.
For the reenactors, it’s not just fighting, but also living as soldiers did in the War Between the States.
“It’s easier to understand when you see it in front of you,” he said.
Of course, unlike his hardtack-munching antecedents, Sullivan and his comrades don’t stand much of a chance of getting a musket ball in the cranium, and they can glide in and out of history in their cars. In fact, one highlight for Sullivan is going to an event, taking part in the battle and then jumping into his car, still in uniform, and driving to the actual historical battlefield. Doing this in sites such as Antietam and Gettysburg has become a ritual for him, and makes the event a surreal experience.
“This is exactly what they saw, this is how they felt. The history is all there. You can reach out and touch it,” he said.
Some of parts of reenacting can be tedious, such as cleaning a dirty musket or sewing authentic buttonholes into a jacket. But then, said Sullivan, tedium makes it all the more realistic. He even appreciates bad weather at events, and having to sleep in the rain or march in the frigid winter months.
“It makes it exactly what it was for those guys,” he said. “It makes it that much more realistic, and that’s what makes it so great.”
Then there’s the uniform.
“A great, authentic uniform usually runs you about $1,000,” he said. Right done to the pricey linen underwear, it’s all part of being as authentic as possible. “I would never spend that kind of money on clothes except for reenacting.”
While Sullivan say reenacting can be inclusive for the whole family, he admits he has yet to convince his wife, Kristen Sullivan, to join the ranks. “I ask her about it all the time and she just laughs at me,” he said, laughing himself. “We set up civilian camps for families, but she says its just not for her. She doesn’t want to do it, but she understands me doing it.” But even his wife’s absence helps to add authenticity to an event. “I want to get her into Victorian Photography Studios in Gettysburg and get her picture taken in an old dress so I can carry it with me in battle.” It’s the small details such as those that take a reenactor’s impression to the next level.
Not everybody shares his passion for the Civil War. Sullivan admits he sometimes gets questions and odd glances when he is in uniform.
“I go camping and play war. That’s how I explain it when people ask,” he said. “Try it. Come out one weekend.”
Even though there is a standard look to the average Civil War soldier —young, white, male—Sullivan said the reenacting community is open and welcoming; reenactors don’t have to look the part.
“I want to be doing this even when I’m 60,” he said, recognizing that few sexagenarians were on the 19th century front lines. “If I have a son one day, I would love to take him to an event and fight by his side. That’s what it’s all about, experiencing moments like that.”
But for some people want to know more.
“I get questions like, ‘Why are you guys so obsessed with killing and death? Why would you want to constantly relive such a horrible part of history?’ But that’s not why we do it,” Sullivan maintains. “It’s easy to forget these were flesh and blood people. We are trying to honor them.”
Saturday, 23 November 2013 00:00
For Frank Lazzaro, getting into floral design was an accident, a stroke of luck. What started out as a makeshift Christmas decoration in the Army eventually landed him in the Oval Office at the White House serving as Christmas decorator for three presidents.
The former Floral Park florist served at Fort Bragg, N.C. during the Vietnam War as supervisor of medical supplies in Womack Army Hospital when his boss made a request.
Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00
Rotary Club of Floral Park-Bellerose President Shane Parouse was among the 50,304 finishers of this year’s ING New York City Marathon, which was held on Sunday, Nov. 3. Keeping stride with the club’s mission “to serve those in need locally, nationally and internationally,” Parouse ran for charity and raised $4,000.
“One of the great things about the marathon is the amount of goodwill that surrounds it,” Parouse said. “Millions are raised every year by people like me, supported by friends and family and strangers who urge us on throughout the 26.2 miles. It’s really a beautiful event.”
The Junior Women’s Club of Bellerose will hold a Shopping Night on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at 50 Superior Road, Bellerose Village. Wine tasting, jewelry, cosmetics, baked goods, handbags, scarves and shawls,ornaments, gourmet cookware, spices and handmade items will be available. For more information, Lisa Tice 516-581-9772 or Nancy Knese 516-567-6321.
will hold its annual Holiday Breakfast and Chinese Auction fundraiser at Floral Park Village Hall on Sunday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Chinese Auction will begin at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10 and may be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting Lion President John Mansfield 516-233-1564.
• Gam-Anon, an anonymous organization for spouses, adult children over 18, family and friends whose lives have been affected by a gambling problem. Meets Mondays at the Jewish Community Center of W. Hempstead, 711 Dogwood Ave., W. Hempstead. For information call 321-2883.
• Triple Bingo every Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bellerose Jewish Center, 254-04 Union Tpke., Floral Park. You can win up to $3,000.
• Nassau Mid-Island Chapter Of The Barber Shop Harmony Society invites any man who is interested in singing barbershop harmony to join them any Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. in the Church of the Advent Winthrop Hall, 555 Advent St. (one block east of Post Ave.; two blocks south of Jericho Tpke.), Westbury. Call George Seelinger 333-0803.
• Bingo Robert Van Cott American Legion Post #1139, 734 Woodfield Rd., West Hempstead, hosts a weekly Bingo game Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. Early bird and game specials.
• Boy Scout Troop 158 Queens Village for boys ages 10 to 18 meets at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 92-10 217th St., Queens Village, every Friday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Call Mr. LeVine 1-781-465-5522 or email to Pear1H21@nyc.rr.com.
• Look Good...Feel Better sponsored by LIJ Medical Center in association with the National Cosmetology Association, the Toiletry Fragrance Association and the American Cancer Society. The program reaches out to women with cancer and teaches them how to best apply makeup and wear their hair while undergoing cancer treatment. Meets on the second Monday of every month at LIJ Medical Center, 27005 76th Ave., New Hyde Park. Reservations suggested, but not required. Call Harriet Pine or Selma Robinton 718-470-7094. All women who attend receive a makeup kit filled with brand-name cosmetics valued at over $200.
• AARP Chapter #5224 Floral Park meets on the third Monday of the month at the Floral Park Recreation Center. For further information call Marge Vance, president, 354-4296.
• Family Promise Of NC Are you concerned about helping homeless families in our local communities? You are invited to meetings for Family Promise of Nassau County, Inc., the third Monday of every month, at 7:30 p.m. at the New Hyde Park Baptist Church, 635 New Hyde Park Rd., NHP (352-9672 ). All congregations invited: Churches, synagogues, mosques and NC residents. The need is great. Call Family Promise at 684-9833.
• Stewart Manor Auxiliary Police Unit 105 is currently having an ongoing Recruitment Drive. Meetings are held on the last Monday of each month at the Village Hall, 120 Covert Ave. (side entrance on Chester Ave.). Those interested should call Sgt. Jerry Ortell 775-5126 to find out more.
• Garden City Ski Club meets on the first and third Wednesdays through April (except holidays) at 7:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 1000 Marcus Ave., New Hyde Park. Social events, trips to our lodge in Vermont, and skiing in a variety of areas throughout the West and New England. Ages 21 and over, please. For additional info and schedules visit www.gardencityskiclub.com or call 872-1448.
• Order Sons Of Italy meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall, Lincoln Rd., Franklin Square. There are also entertaining programs and refreshments and food are served free at every meeting. Call Sal Palmeri 328-0333 for an application.
• Citizen’s Party Of FP meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the American Legion Hall. To become a member, residents are invited to visit www.fpcitizensparty.com or call 775-2940.
• Your Widows/Widowers Social Group, a nonsectarian, nonprofit organization of widows and widowers ages 50 to 70 years of age. Fee for members is $3, nonmembers $5. Meets at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Church, 5th St. and Franklin Ave., Garden City, on the third Wednesday of each month. Call Denise 488-4597. No meeting at the church during July and August.
• FP Arthritis Support Group meetings will be held on the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Floral Park Library, Tulip Ave. and Carolina Pl., Floral Park. Call the Arthritis Foundation 427-8272.
• LI Junior Chamber Of Commerce The LIJC regularly has the Meet and Greet on the first Thursday and the monthly meeting on the third Tuesday of each month, along with a variety of other events throughout the month, For more information on the LI Junior Chamber, visit WWW.LIJC.com. Contact: Martin Dekom, Chairman, 850-2717 - Mdekom@gmail.com; Julie Dekom, Membership Director -Julz_5@yahoo.com; Steven Eiselen, Community Development VP -SEiselen@msn.com.
• Free/Low Cost Health Insurance The residents of communities served by Mercy Medical Center will have the opportunity to apply for free or low cost health insurance for children, families and adults up to age 64 on the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. in Mercy’s Main Lobby. Staff from Catholic Charities of LI will assist you and your children applying for Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Medicaid Health Insurance Programs. The bi-lingual enrollers will screen adults for income eligibility for the state’s health insurance program Family Health Plus. Children are eligible for Child Health Plus. These programs cover medical check-ups, hospitalization, emergency care, prescriptions, vision and dental care.
• Zonta Club Of LI a member of Zonta International, a worldwide service organization with a local club. Members help advance the status of women and are involved in many community service activities. The name Zonta is a word taken from the Sioux and stands for honesty, trust, inspiration and the ability to work together for service and understanding. At meetings members discuss and learn about issues facing women, develop and conduct fun fundraising that benefits community programs and network with Zonta International programs. The club meets at a monthly dinner meeting in New Hyde Park on the third Thursday of each month. Call Kathy Rau 488-2796.
• Art League Of NC monthly meeting and demonstration by a guest artist. Meets on the fourth Friday of each month at the New Hyde Park Recreation Center, Clinton G. Martin Park, Marcus Ave. and NHP Rd., NHP (near Union Tpke.) at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited. Refreshments served. Call 437-0919. Nonmembers $2. No meetings in June, July, August, December.
Has year round classes all taught by a professional. Classes for the littlest artist to the more serious, adult classes too. Call for more information at 742-7662 or go onto the web at thegardenartstudio.com.
Safe Boating Courses, free vessel safety checks and more from America’s Boating Club, the United States Power Squadrons. With 18 squadrons around Long Island, there’s one near you. Visit WeBoatSafe.org or call 1-800-341-8777 for more information.
Are you a senior who would like help paying for Medicare benefits and prescription drugs? Free assistance is only a phone call away if you qualify because of limited income. There may be a way to alleviate some of the cost of Medicare — deductibles and coinsurance, Part B premiums, prescription drug plans (Part D). Reducing monthly premiums, annual deductibles and co-payments, aiding with coverage gaps (the doughnut hole). To learn more call an LIS/HHS (Low Income Subsidy from U.S. Dept. of HHS) counselor from Family & Children’s, a community of caring. 485-3425, ext. 222.
Stroke Life Society is a community organization of survivors and co-survivors in the pursuit of living and helping others. A stroke can be very isolating. By sharing experiences and encouraging one another, together we can face and overcome common challenges. All welcome. RSVP is requested but not required. For information and other locations and times, call Ben Thomas 398-4994. Go to www.strokelife.org.
• Every first Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m. in Room 12, St. Frances de Chantal, 1309 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh.
• Every second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Church of St. Jude, 3606 Lufberry Ave., Wantagh.
• Every second Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Epilepsy Conference Room, Research Building Level C, 270-05 76th Ave., New Hyde Park.
• Every third Friday at 2 p.m. at St. Bernard’s Parish Center, 3100 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown.
• Every fourth Wednesday at
6 p.m. in Room 106, St. James Parish Center, 80 Hicksville Rd., Seaford.
The NC Auxiliary Police Unit has available, through the cooperation of the NYS Office of Crime Prevention, very informative pamphlets on how you, the homeowner, can better protect you and your family from being a victim of crime. Any resident requesting a copy of these pamphlets can write to NC Auxiliary Police Unit 116, PO Box 288, West Hempstead, NY 11552; call 538-5800; or e-mail: NCAP116@AOL.COM. The following pamphlets are available:
• Common Sense for the Elderly
• The Babysitter Guide
• Crime Check (Home Survey)
• Don’t Be a Victim of Burglary
• Rape Prevention
Provides free transportation to and from medical appointments for senior citizens who are residents of the Floral Park/Bellerose area and cannot afford cab fare or who have no other means of transportation. Should you or a loved one need transportation to a medical appointment, contact FISH at 835-9522 or telephone coordinator Fran Hornberger at 775-0740.
At The Bellerose Jewish Center
Located at 254-04 Union Tpke., Floral Park. Call 718-343-9001:
• Free Jewish education for kindergarten and Sunday School children. A thorough religious curriculum with experienced teachers for third grade to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah is also provided.
• The Renaissance Group. A nonsectarian group of men and women who have lost a dear one. Dialogue and an exchange of ideas can be helpful. Call for date of the next meeting.
The following programs regularly serve all residents of Nassau County (call the NC Dept. of Senior Citizen Affairs 571-4330):
• Employment Referrals for Seniors. The NC Dept. of Senior Citizen Affairs is a resource to employers seeking qualified workers and to mature job seekers, 55+, who want assistance with employment and résumé preparation. Services are free of charge.
• The Foster Grandparents Program is recruiting senior volunteers to share their time and love with children in Nassau County. Volunteers receive a non-reportable stipend, transportation reimbursement, paid holidays, sick days and vacation days.
• If you are 55+, make your spare time count. Join the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, a national organization, and share your talents and skills at one of the many diversified placements.
Franklin Hospital Medical Center’s Thrift Shop, 138 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Floral Park United Methodist Church Thrift Shop, 35 Verbena Ave., open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featuring jewelry, clothing, housewares, bric-a-brac, dishes, linens, collectibles, some furniture, small appliances and antiques. Donations gratefully accepted. Call 354-4969.