Briana Bonfiglio


Brookhaven House Party Under Investigation For Covid-19 Violations

brookhaven house party
Suffolk County Police officers were at 51 Hawkins Lane for more than four hours early Monday morning dispersing a mass gathering.

Suffolk County Police officers broke up a gathering in Brookhaven early Monday morning, which they estimated to be about 300 to 400 people, thus violating Covid-19 regulations that limit residential gatherings to 10.

Multiple neighbors, as well as the homeowner, who was not at the house during the incident, called 911 to report a sea of cars and people heading to the home at 51 Hawkins Lane, located at the end of a dead end. Officers responded at about 12:25 a.m.

“There’s no question that an event like this is a public health issue,” said Stuart Cameron, Suffolk County’s Chief of Police. “The department is committed to taking enforcement action on this, locating the responsible party and making sure they’re held accountable.”

Cameron and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters about the incident during a news conference today. Bellone said that the host of the party was renting the house through short-term rental app Airbnb and that the homeowner has been cooperating with authorities.

The Airbnb listing for this property states that parties and events are not allowed and “we don’t allow more than 8 people on the property.” The house rules also list Covid-19 guidelines.

Officers were on the scene for more than four hours ensuring people drove away from the party safely, Cameron said. They said that many guests had just arrived and were still in their cars, so police were able to break up the party before people put themselves at risk of spreading the virus. 

The investigation is ongoing, and officials say they plan to press charges when they find the individual responsible for the party. 

“We have worked too hard, we have overcome too much, to allow some really selfish and reckless individuals really set back our efforts to continue to protect people’s health,” Bellone said, “and to move our economic recovery forward, and that’s what these events represent.”

This potential superspreader event comes when Suffolk County has a confirmed Covid-19 positivity rate of 5.2 percent, which is at its highest since May 17, Bellone said. Suffolk has 238 Covid-19 patients hospitalized and 46 in ICU.

“These numbers are alarming, to say the least,” Bellone said. “There can be no doubt now that we are in that second wave that we talked about for so long.”

In the month of November alone, Suffolk’s Covid-19 positivity rate surged from 1 percent on Nov. 1 to about 5 percent today, Dec. 1. To combat the sharp rise in cases, Suffolk has increased its contact tracing team from 30 investigators to more than 200.

Suffolk has also added new community testing sites in Riverhead and Patchogue, Bellone said. A list of testing sites can be found at suffolkcountyny.gov/covid19.

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Long Island’s infection rate is 3.9 percent.

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Long Island Charity Events December 2020

long island charity events
There are many ways to help kids in need for the holidays. (Getty Images)

There are several ways to give back to those in need this holiday season, and many of them involve having a little fun along the way. Here are six Long Island charity events benefitting nonprofit organizations and local families to attend this December.



This traditional Christmas lights show is synchronized with music when you tune in to 89.7 FM, and an 18-year-old from Hicksville created it himself. The family will be taking donations for Make A Wish Foundation – Metro New York. 62 Crescent St., Hicksville, site.wish.org/goto/spankyslightshow. Free. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 1- Jan. 1. 



Support Q.B. Generational Change Inc.’s programs and events for youth in the community at this sip and paint fundraiser at Press Play in Freeport. Food and drinks are included. There will be raffles, giveaways, music and more. 824 Merrick Rd., Freeport, facebook.com/qbgenerationalchange. $75. 8 p.m. Dec. 5. 



Legends Bar & Grill in Kings Park will host its 3rd annual holiday toy drive and fundraiser. Attendees can bring unwrapped gifts, which will be donated to Smithtown’s Children’s Foundation and Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. All proceeds collected will go to local families in need. Event will feature live music, raffle prizes, a 50/50 raffle and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. 34 Indian Head Rd., Kings Park, facebook.com/legendsbarandgrillofkingspark. 5 p.m. Dec. 7. 



Send a loving animal to its forever home this holiday season by attending this fundraiser at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Smithtown. Enjoy dinner, a cash bar and raffles while supporting rescue dogs and cats. All proceeds will be donated to Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue. 730 Smithtown Bypass, Smithtown, saveapetusa.org. $25. 6 p.m. Dec. 10.



Join in the family fun at the Jingle all the Way 5K and Run Run Rudolph Run 1K at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. The event will benefit the John Theissen Foundation’s annual toy drive. 3340 Merrick Rd., Seaford, runsignup.com/Race/NY/Seaford/JingleAllTheWay5km. $38-$43. 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. Dec. 13. 



Kids Need More hosts a drive-by, gift-giving extravaganza. Dress up as an elf and put a smile on the faces of hundreds of children coping with a serious illness. To nominate a child who has experienced serious illness or trauma, call 631-608-3135 or email info@kidsneedmore.org. 600 Albany Ave., Suite 14, Amityville, kidsneedmore.org. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 20. 


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Find The Perfect Christmas Tree on These Long Island Farms

christmas tree
Getty Images

There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh pine, fir, or spruce tree — especially when it’s hand-picked on a farm with your family. Find this year’s tree at one of these Christmas tree farms on Long Island.

Dart’s Christmas Tree Farm

Unique for its Magic Color Forest of painted Christmas trees, Dart’s is a great place to bring the kids for holiday fun and a photo op. The farm also sells homemade wreaths, garland, and other Christmas decor. 2355 Main Bayview Rd., Southold. 631-765-4148. dartschristmastreefarm.com

Elwood Christmas Tree Farm

Come equipped with a hand saw and chop down your very own tree at Elwood farm. Pre-cut trees are also available. 1500 East Jericho Tpke., Huntington. 631-368-8626. elwoodpumpkinfarm.com 

Lewin Farms

Ride a tractor out into Lewin’s huge tree farm, and choose one of their Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce or Norway Spruce trees. Bring your own saw or rent one at the farm. 812 Sound Ave., Calverton. 631-929-4327. lewinfarm.com 

Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm

Pick from one of several spruce varieties or Balsam Fir at Matt’s. Plus, leashed dogs are allowed to tag along for the adventure! 305 Weeks Ave., Manorville. 631-875-1465. mattschristmastreefarm.com 

Paul’s Christmas Tree Farm

This festive farm offers pine and fir varieties, as well as blue and white spruce. They also sell pre-cut Canadian trees and have a gift shop. 240 Frowein Rd., Center Moriches. 631-878-8645. ctfany.org/custom/paul

Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm

You’ll find more than just trees at this holiday destination. Prepare for family-fun with ice skating, photos with Santa, food, and other activities. 30105 Main St., Cutchogue. 631-734-8641. santaschristmastreefarmli.com

Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm

Visit this farm’s wreath barn and snack shed after you choose your perfect tree. The farm also has local vendors and entertainment on Fridays. 20685 Main Rd., Mattituck. 631-298-4619. shamrockchristmastreefarm.com 

Tilden Lane Farm

Cut your own tree down or find a pre-cut tree that you love. Then, buy one of Tilden Lane Farm’s homemade Fraser fir wreaths to match! 43 Wyckoff St., Greenlawn. 631-261-6392 tildenlanefarm.com

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Private Airliner in Farmingdale Expanding to Meet Increase in Demand

ventura air services
Government, business, and travel and tourism sector leaders joined Ventura Air Services CEO Nick Tarascio (center right) for a special growth announcement program. Standing left to right are: Joseph Vitulli, board member of Long Island Business Aviation Association, from Honeywell Aerospace; Richard Causin, New York State Department of Transportation; Margaret Conklin, New York State Department of Transportation; DuWayne Gregory, Babylon Town Councilman; Anthony Manetta, Babylon Town Councilman; Nick Tarascio, CEO Ventura Air Services; Joseph Garcia, Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce; Imran Ansari, Discover Long Island; Dave Fattizzo, Long Island Association and John Schneidawin, Suffolk County IDA. (Courtesy Ventura Air Services)

Though commercial airlines have seen an unprecedented decline in travelers during the pandemic, people do still want to fly, and private charter flight companies are making that happen, according to Nick Tarascio, CEO of Ventura Air Services.

Ventura, an aviation services company based in Farmingdale, is expanding to serve an increase in travelers who want privacy and safety. 

“Commercial aviation is on life support, and it’s harder to get flights,”  Tarascio said. “Many people are leveraging the benefits of charter flights because of health concerns, the overall convenience, and the exceptional experience we offer.”

Ventura has added several new jets and will have a total of eight aircrafts flying across the Americas and to the Caribbean by the end of the year. Some new jets hold eight passengers and others hold 10. Next year, the service will purchase additional aircraft and hire more staff.

At the height of the pandemic, air travel had declined across the board, and Ventura partnered with New York-area hospitals to make organ transplant flights. Now, Ventura’s business has been restored and seen an increased demand.

Tarascio announced the expansion, which is expected to double Ventura in size and add 25 employees to its 52-person staff, at an event at Ventura’s headquarters. Several community members joined him, including Joseph Vitulli, board member of Long Island Business Aviation Association, from Honeywell Aerospace; Richard Causin, of the  New York State Department of Transportation; Margaret Conklin, of the New York State Department of Transportation; Babylon Town Councilmen DuWayne Gregory and Anthony Manetta; Joseph Garcia, of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce; Imran Ansari, of Discover Long Island; Dave Fattizzo, of the Long Island Association and John Schneidawin, of the Suffolk County Development of Economic Development.

“Private aviation is an important sector on Long Island and a vital part of the regional economy,” Tarascio said. “I am very optimistic about the industry’s growth, as well as our vision for expansion and providing more options to our customers.”

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Colorful Victorian Home in Sea Cliff Asks $515K

victorian home in sea cliff
This vibrant Victorian is listed for $515,000.

The Rainbow House, a charmingly colorful Victorian home, is listed for sale at 15 12th Ave. in Sea Cliff.

While Victorian-era architecture commonly has some color, it is exceptionally rare to find any house with color as bright and boldly liberated as this one. Indeed, this 1887 home’s shingled exterior bears every hue of the rainbow.

Inside, the Rainbow House is perfect for first-time homebuyers and new families. It’s a fresh, clean slate full of renovation and redecorating potential. There’s one bedroom downstairs and two upstairs, plus two bathrooms in the home.

The house is a spacious 1,722 square feet, with several windows to let the sun drench in some natural light. Living spaces include an eat-in kitchen, living room, and den area. There are also spots for laundry and storage, with a five-shelf case baked into one of the walls.

Color trickles into the interior in two areas: a bathroom and the kitchen. One bathroom has a bright, red wall and different colored shelves, plus a black-and-white tiled floor to punctuate this funky space. The kitchen has one, colorful tiled backsplash behind the gas stove and oven, plus light yellow cabinets and blue-ish gray countertops.

This one-family home is centrally located in the heart of the Village of Sea Cliff, near shops, restaurants, the Long Island Railroad, parks, libraries, the beach, and Sea Cliff Elementary School.

The asking price is $515,000, not including the annual property tax of $9,638.

The real estate agent listed for the property is Eileen Heimer, of Daniel Gale Real Estate, who can be reached at 516-674-2000.

For more real estate news, visit longislandpress.com/category/real-estate.

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Study Reveals Pandemic’s Deeper Impact on Minority Seniors

minority seniors
Minority seniors are at higher risk of the pandemic’s negative impacts. (Getty Images)

Older New Yorkers of color have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is further widening existing race-based gaps in health, housing, and food insecurity, according to a new research study by AARP New York.

The report, Disrupting Disparities 3.0, found that New York nursing homes with at least a quarter of Black and Hispanic residents have been twice as likely to have a Covid-19 outbreak than homes with a less-than-5 percent Black and Hispanic population.

“The pandemic and its impact on older New Yorkers has been appalling,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State director. “In every facet of life, 50-plus individuals and communities of color have bore a huge brunt of Covid.”

The study shows that about 25 percent of Black and Latino families were unable to pay their rent in May, as opposed to 14 percent of white households. During May and June, half of Black tenant households in New York had fallen behind on rent. 

Disrupting Disparities 3.0 is the third in a series of reports analyzing racial and ethnic-based inequities and outlining concrete solutions to level the playing field. The project, which began in 2018, is a partnership between AARP New York and the NAACP New York State Conference, New York Urban League, Asian American Federation, and Hispanic Federation.

On Nov. 17, directors from AARP New York and partnering organizations held a virtual conference to present and discuss the findings.

Reggie Nance, an AARP New York associate state director for multicultural outreach, noted that “more than 6,500 people have died in New York nursing homes since the onset of the pandemic.”

This happens at a time when the rates of Black people entering nursing homes is increasing, while the rate of white people entering nursing homes is going down, he said. 

 Too often, when New York catches a cold, communities of color catch a fever. 

— Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

Food insecurity, which is the limited availability or access to adequate food, is another major concern in the report. “Covid-19 has significantly increased food insecurity,” said Maggie Castro, an AARP New York associate state director for multicultural outreach, adding that there is a definite racial divide among food-insecure adults. 

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits and food-purchasing assistance to reduce food insecurity, but more than 330,000 eligible New York State residents, ages 60 and older, are not enrolled in the program. Most of those who are enrolled in SNAP live alone and in the pandemic, leaving home, even for food, poses a problem for at-risk residents.

Disrupting Disparities 3.0 proposes several solutions to the systematic ills plaguing communities of color in New York, including a housing access voucher program for homeless New Yorkers or those facing homelessness. It also proposes cost-effective home- and community-based services that allow older people to stay home, ensuring online food shopping and delivery for SNAP recipients, as well as guaranteed access to adequate testing and personal protective equipment for home health aides.

“Our goal is to make sure we’re keeping people safe in their homes,” said Kristen McManus, AARP New York’s associate state director for advocacy.

Additionally, the report calls for an independent review of New York State’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes, a long-term care task force, and an extended moratorium on evictions throughout the state’s entire state of emergency.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Doug E. Fresh, a hip-hop artist and social advocate, attended the virtual conference to further discuss these issues. 

“Too often, when New York catches a cold, communities of color catch a fever,” Jeffries said. “New Yorkers need comprehensive relief now, and we must ensure that any relief provided will help disrupt the racial and ethnic disparities within our state and nation.”

“It doesn’t make me feel good to see the conditions and people not being able to make money and go out there and support their families,” Fresh said. “We’re living in a time where we have to be more concerned about each other, not just ourselves. We have to support each other.”

-With Maia Vines

Four Long Island Communities Become COVID-19 Yellow Zones

yellow zones
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced four Long Island communities have entered into a yellow zone based on COVID-19 infection rates.

Hampton Bays, Riverhead, Great Neck and Massapequa Park are now yellow zones under New York State’s COVID-19 Cluster Action Initiative, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during a news briefing today.

Yellow zone restrictions include 50 percent capacity at houses of worship and four people maximum per table at restaurants, indoors and outdoors. Schools will remain open and are mandated to test 20 percent of students and staff on a weekly basis. Non-residential mass gatherings are limited to 25 people and residential gatherings are limited to 10 people.

“The COVID rate is all a function of our actions,” Cuomo said. “There is no predetermined result here.”

The infection rate is 5.1 percent in Hampton Bays, 4.6 percent in Riverhead, 4.7 percent in Great Neck and 3.9 percent in Massapequa Park. 

Parts of the Five Towns were included last month in a yellow zone due to a spike in high infection rates in that area that later decreased. The next level is an orange zone warning in which non-essential businesses, such as gyms and personal care, are closed and schools are required to be remote-only. The highest level of restriction is the red zone in which only essential businesses open and dining reverts to takeout only as it did between when the virus peaked in March.

The seven-day average COVID-19 infection rate for the Island was 3.23 percent as of Sunday and the statewide positivity rate for the same time frame was 2.89 percent, according to the governor’s office.

This comes just days before Thanksgiving, the beginning of a high socialization period as the holiday season begins, which Cuomo called “a dangerous situation” combined with the current rate in which cases are rising.

Cuomo said the state infection rate could hit 10 percent in January if New Yorkers aren’t careful.

“Between now and January, there will be increased social interaction, and the consequence, I believe, will be an increase in the rate of cases,” Cuomo said. “The only question of how much and how fast is up to you.”

-With Tim Bolger

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8 Places to Eat on Long Island With Heated Outdoor Dining

outdoor dining
Getty Images

Restaurant owners have relied on outdoor dining this year as they faced limited capacity restrictions inside their eateries. With the cold weather creeping in, many are worried about how business will be impacted. 

But there is a solution: heated outdoor seating. So get ready to dine al fresco this winter, and check out these restaurants with heated patios and outdoor fire pits.

2 Spring
Chow down on 2 Spring’s fresh fish, farm meat and locally sourced produce while you cozy up under the string lights illuminating their heated patio. Executive Chef Jesse Schenker serves up creative, modern American dishes you’ll want to try. 2 Spring St., Oyster Bay, 2springstreet.com.

Prime 1024
This upscale Italian steakhouse has a heated, cabana-style outdoor dining area that’s dressed up with as much care as its indoor counterpart. The restaurant has a full range of Italian cuisine from a raw bar to housemade pasta and pizza to several steak and chop cuts. 1024 Northern Blvd., Roslyn, prime1024.com.

Enjoy Mexican bites by the fire at Lucharitos. The whole family can fit at one of their long, wooden picnic tables, and their fire pits warm up this fun, family-friendly outdoor space. 177 Main St., Center Moriches, lucharitos.com.

EGP Land & Sea
Now this outdoor dining arrangement is an experience in itself. EGP’s winter igloos provide an intimate setting for friends and family to gather by a fire and enjoy the restaurant’s American-style eats — from lobster mac ‘n’ cheese to their loaded “cure-all” burger. 2 Pettit Pl., Island Park, egplandandsea.com.

This Italian joint has greatly expanded its outdoor seating and just added a covered, heated patio and tent. Amici offers Italian favorites, as well as seasonal specials, such as soft bavarian pretzels, fall apple salad and butternut squash ravioli. 304 Route 25A, Mount Sinai, amicirestaurant.org.

Verona Ristorante
Classic Italian cuisine awaits at Verona. And though the weather is getting quite chilly, they won’t leave you out in the cold. In order to maintain social distancing through the winter, they constructed two new, heated outdoor dining areas to make you feel right at home. 1255 Melville Rd., Farmingdale, veronafarmingdale.com.

Bistro 44
Find comfort in a hearty soup and sandwich for lunch or one of Executive Chef Jose Morales’ meat or fish dishes for dinner. Either way, the food will fill you, and the patio heaters will warm you until you forget you were ever cold to begin with. 44 Main St., Northport, bistro44.net.

Indulge in Nantuckets’ seafood, signature cocktails and homemade desserts under the warmth of the restaurant’s heated outdoor tent. Reservations are recommended for their lunch, dinner and weekend brunch seatings. 9 Traders Cove, Port Jefferson, nantucketsportjefferson.com.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Manhasset-based 3GALCreations Creates For a Cause

3 gal creations
Grace Panopoulos, left, Ava Panopoulos, and Lauren Kim, all 11, launched 3Galcreations in August.

Three Manhasset 11-year-olds have turned a fun hobby into a way to give back.

This summer, twins Grace and Ava Panopoulos and their friend Lauren Kim, all sixth graders at Shelter Rock Elementary School in Manhasset, discovered that they love DIY projects.

“The whole summer we were really doing nothing,” Ava says, “but then, we started making and tie-dyeing T-shirts and other things.”

Some of the girls’ friends loved their creations and wanted some of their own. That’s when an idea sparked in their heads: They would sell their handmade products — right now, beaded bracelets and mask chains — and donate proceeds to charities, such as Ronald McDonald House.

“We thought it would be a nice idea to help the kids who are suffering throughout this
pandemic,” Grace says, “especially when they have something like cancer.”

The girls have raised nearly $3,000 selling their creations and donated to four organizations so far: Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer, Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, Madison Holleran Foundation and Leashes of Valor. They’ll also be visiting Ronald McDonald House soon to deliver a donation.

“It makes us feel very good,” Kim says. “We try to raise money for them so they can have a better life.”

The friends launched their organization in mid-August and called it 3GALcreations — “GAL” standing for Grace, Ava and Lauren. They made Instagram and Facebook pages for the project and posted their items for sale. While they started out selling tie-dyed shirts, they quickly shifted their focus to beaded mask chains. Those were a big hit.

“This allows them to learn about, ‘How can I make an impact in this world, even if it’s small, and how big can it grow?’” Jeannie Kim, Lauren’s mother, says. “I think they are pretty shocked at how big it grew.”

Jeannie and the twins’ mother, Irene Panopoulos, oversee the finances of their philanthropic business and help reach out to organizations with good, relevant causes. 3GALcreations’ motto is “dream, innovate, empower,” and the moms want their daughters to create a variety of products and donate to different charities in the future.

“We want to spread the wealth as much as possible to various organizations,” Jeannie says, “until the girls then decide what their true passion becomes.”

Find 3GALcreations on Facebook and Instagram: @3galcreations.

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Nassau to Hold Veterans Winter Stand Down

veterans winter stand down
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Nassau County’s Veterans Service Agency (VSA) will host its 32nd annual Veterans Winter Stand Down on Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Freeport Armory.

Each year, the event provides donations and services to veterans in need. This year, it will be a drive-by event with donations only. Veterans in need in services, such as counseling or assistance with employment and receiving benefits, can call the VSA at 516-572-6565.

“I’d like to thank my fellow veterans who made this happen,” said VSA Director Ralph Esposito. “Without them, we’re nothing. These are the guys that come out, they’ll be here on the 24th helping our veterans.”

County Executive Laura Curran and County Legislator Debra Mulé announced during a news conference in front of the Armory on Thursday that the stand down would take place in a modified version this year. 

Volunteers, many of them veterans themselves, will place donation bags directly in veterans’ cars that drive up to the Armory. Bags will contain winter jackets, clothes, boots and non-perishable foods, as well as a holiday turkey. Veterans without a vehicle can walk to the front doors of the Armory to receive a donation bag. All must wear masks.

“Normally during the stand down there would be a line down to the corner,” Mulé  said. “Inside there would be great numbers of vendors providing services to our well-deserving veterans. But things have to be different this year, so I’m so pleased to hear that we are doing it in a way that’s going to be safe and effective.”

There are 56,000 veterans in Nassau County, according to the VSA. Many are either disabled, homeless or struggling financially, especially as unemployment has surged during the pandemic.

For more information about the Winter Stand Down and the VSA, call 516-572-6565.

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