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Skating on thin ice


As I sit at my desk, the rain spatters against the windowpane, eroding the ice and snow that had built up just a few short days ago. Feeling pensive, I can’t help but reflect on the past week, which was both entertaining and thought provoking—centered, in a way, around water. With my health on the upswing (walking pneumonia is no laughing matter), I decided to venture forth into the world and carved out some “me time,” making plans to see a movie with a few pals at the Callicoon Theater, where (for something completely different) “everyone knows your name.”

This screening of Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”—which occurred last weekend and will run again this weekend—is co-sponsored by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) as part of their CineArt series of “independent, foreign and/or art films.” Described as “an other-worldly fable directed by a master storyteller” and called “one of the best films of 2017” by Time magazine, I found the film to be haunting, lyrical and visually stunning. Brilliant (IMHO), “The Shape of Water” is stylish and unique—and apparently, I am not alone in my assessment, because just as I am writing this the nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards were announced and “The Shape of Water” received 13, including best picture, more than any other this year. No spoilers here; just go. You’ll be supporting both the theater and the DVAA, so as Auntie Mame would say: “What could be more wholesome or natural?”

It was still bitter cold leaving Callicoon last Friday, so hopes were high for the ice remaining solid for the Sunday’s 59th annual Livingston Manor Rotary Ice Carnival, which melted before it got off the ground last year. Sponsored by hard-working Rotarians, the Ice Carnival is always cool, and under the guidance of carnival chairperson Diane Babich and her dedicated crew of volunteers, this year’s event went off without a hitch, save for the snow sculptures drooping more than a little in the rising temps that led to this morning’s rain. Fortunately, the judging (by “prominent community VIP’s”) had already taken place on Friday, and photos preserving the creativity can be seen on their Facebook (Livingston Manor Rotary Ice Carnival) page.

In addition to the sculpture contest, there was snowshoeing (sponsored by Morgan Outdoors), horse-drawn sleigh rides (thanks to Butch Peters) and the traditional parade of the 2018 Ice Carnival King and Queen (Tommy Mills and Faith Valentine), who circled the Walter Seeley Memorial Skating Rink before an amazing exhibition performed by professional skaters. They included Stephanie Chernick, who delighted kids of all ages as Frosty the Snowman, and duo Valerie Levine and Kate Gauthier, whose skills (and stunning costumes) were positively mesmerizing on the ice. The pair performed two routines and wowed the crowd with their performance of “Uptown Funk,” while eight-year-old Madison Gies was graceful and beautiful, having begun her skating career just three years ago. High school junior Sabrina Zayas, a regional finalist for the last four years, skated to “Forbidden Eternal Love,” and Northeastern Regional Finalist Anastasia Gromova, who calls the rink her “second home” was fantastic. Starting her figure-skating career when she was 16, and coached by her parents, who skated for the Soviet Union, Anastasia now resides in Long Island, where she continues to skate “seven days a week.” Skating Club of New York members Lily and Sophie Nye rounded out the exhibition with lovely programs, and the sisters have impressive credentials and skills. If you’ve never attended the ice carnival, mark your calendars for next year, for this is no ordinary event and the star power that it attracts yearly is fantastic.

Following the show and prior to the free-skate, kids in multiple age categories competed for “Olympic-style” medals as parents and friends hooted and hollered from the stands. “None of this would be possible without our wonderful sponsors,” Babich told me in a quick aside as “Skaters of the Day” winners Abby Haff and Luke Dame stood on the podium once more, thrilled to be recognized for their achievements on the ice.

“That’s my grandson!” claimed the woman standing next to me and tugged at my sleeve. “He’s eight years old and attends Tri-Valley,” she continued. “Why don’t you take his picture, too?” Happy to oblige, I snapped a photo of Luke and his pal Daniel, while informing his family that there would be photos on The River Reporter’s Facebook page to “like, tag and share” by the time the paper hits the stands. I might be “skating on thin ice” making promises like that, but I’ll do my best to keep my word. Can’t disappoint Grandma, now can I?


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