Articles by

Grant Parpan

Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup.

11/28/14 8:25am

Picture an entire street decorated as a winter wonderland. Now imagine dozens of them.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO

This was something I witnessed as an editor at a local newspaper in Santa Clarita, Calif., where the paper hosted an annual Holiday Lights Tour. Individual houses and streets would be evaluated each year by a team of judges from the newspaper staff. We’d determine which were the best, award them prizes and publish a list of the top holiday houses in the valley so our readers could go see them firsthand.

The contest eventually grew so large that the judges were all chauffeured in a limousine, touring the houses for more than eight hours. We’d be greeted with bribes — we actually gave out a prize for best bribe — of food, drinks and trinkets from the contestants. I still have the Homer Simpson-talking Santa figure a producer on “The Simpsons” gave me in hopes I’d choose his house. Though I ultimately voted for the house that fed us the killer tortilla soup.

For the past several winters, we’ve toyed with the idea of bringing such a contest to the North Fork and encouraging each of our readers to find their inner Clark Griswold as we seek to identify the best-decorated house.

This year we’re giving it a try.

We’re going to start out small, by picking one winning house and a handful of honorable mentions.

To participate, you’ll need to fill out the form in the ‘At Home’ section of this week’s paper or email us (gparpan@timesreview.com) the relevant information.KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO

You will also need to be home on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 14, when our judges will make the rounds to decide which home is the best decorated. We will call all contestants several days before our visit to let you know an approximate time we’ll stop by.

We will judge your home based on style and taste, the difficulty of setting up the decorations and the uniqueness of your display.

We will consider interiors, exteriors or both.

The winning houses will be featured on our real estate page in the Dec. 18 issue, and the grand winner will get the perfect gift for homeowners who want to improve their houses even more for next year’s contest: a $1,000 gift certificate to Riverhead Building Supply.

Do you think you have the best-decorated house on the North Fork? Prove it.

Photos credits: Katharine Schroeder

11/22/14 8:00am
St. Anthony's High School rowers during the annual Snowflake Regatta, which this year made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

St. Anthony’s High School rowers during the annual Snowflake Regatta, which this year made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

My wife and I were at a local restaurant the other night. The family of four sitting next to us was finishing dessert when a busgirl, who appeared to be around 14 or 15, let a glass of water slip from her hand. It didn’t splash anybody and no one appeared to be hurt, but it was an inconvenience for a few of the surrounding tables as the water spread across the floor and needed to be cleaned up.

What surprised me most about the incident was how the mother at the table, who appeared to be in her 40s or 50s, reacted to the spill.  (more…)

11/16/14 12:00pm
If you're looking to hire, which is columnist Grant Parpan's #1 raking tip, then Manuel Canel (left) of Canel Landscaping of Riverhead is available. Above he's cleaning up an Aquebogue yeard with his crew, Jose Canel (center) and Victor Garcia (right hidden). (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

If you’re looking to hire, which is columnist Grant Parpan’s #1 raking tip, then Manuel Canel (left) of Canel Landscaping of Riverhead is available. Above he’s cleaning up an Aquebogue yeard with his crew, Jose Canel (center) and Victor Garcia (right hidden). (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

I don’t like leaves.

Sure, they’re beautiful when they change color, and I appreciate the shade they help provide on a hot day. But the agony caused by having to physically rake up thousands of leaves from my yard each autumn is enough to make me generally dislike them.  (more…)

11/15/14 8:00am
Tim Bishop addressed the crowd on Election Day Nov. 4 after losing to Republican Lee Zeldin. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Tim Bishop addresses the crowd on Election Day Nov. 4 after losing to Republican Lee Zeldin. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

When I began reporting on Suffolk County politics back in February 2006, the Democratic party here was on the rise.

In Brookhaven Town, where I was assigned at the time, Democrats were one month into their first majority in more than 25 years. The party controlled the Legislature, the 1st District Assemblyman was a Democrat and so was our local congressman. Suffolk also had just as many Democratic town supervisors as Republicans in office and the county executive was a Democrat.  (more…)

11/13/14 2:45pm

It was meant to be a private video shared among parents of local rowers.

Two days later, video footage of last weekend’s Riverhead Snowflake Regatta became a viral YouTube sensation.

The now infamous local video with nearly a half-million views, which exploded after it was shared by sports entertainment website Deadspin, NBC Sports and USA Today among others, was shot and published on YouTube by the mother of a local rower.

“I just happened to be taking video and some of the other parents were like ‘Oh, can you send me that?” explained Mary Kay O’Shaughnessy of Riverhead. “So I posted it and it was not listed. It was not public and I sent it to a few parents.

“I don’t know how it got out there.”

YouTube explains: “Making a video unlisted means that only people who have the link to the video can view it … but it could appear elsewhere on the web if you or anyone who you shared the video with shares it more broadly.”

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 2.21.34 PM

The video depicts several mishaps during the annual racing event, including two crew teams stopped in the middle of the course with their boats apparently stuck.

Spectators along the riverwalk can be heard yelling and cursing at the boaters throughout the video.

Ms. O’Shaughnessy admits the video can be a bit misleading, though. At one point, the video shows an eight-women novice team striking a pier, appearing to force a teenage girl overboard as another team passes the rowers by.

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But results show that race featured a staggered start time and the team that struck the pier continued on, and eventually won.

“Not one rower ended up in the water,” Ms. O’Shaughnessy confirmed. “It was very scary, let me tell you, very scary. But they popped back up, not one of them got in the water and they actually won the race.”

And even though websites are making statements like “Riverhead Rowing Sucks!” in headlines, no teams made up of rowers from Riverhead are featured erring in the video.



Ms. O’Shaughnessy, who acknowledged that she licensed the video at the suggestion of others after it went viral, said “it was never my intention to embarrass anybody. Absolutely not.”

“It was for the parents who watched it all happen,” she said. “It was sort of surreal.

“I had some new parents saying, ‘So, this is what happens?” she said. “I said, ‘No, this never happens.’”

One veteran rowing coach who witnessed the races — but asked not to be identified — said these sort of miscues do often happen during novice races.

“This does happen and it’s not a horrible thing,” he said, likening it to foot races where runners stumble over each other.

He said sometimes young rowers can’t hear instructions from their coaches while out on the water, or have trouble seeing over each other, which could make it appear that boats are stuck while the team tries to figured out what to do.

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 2.22.07 PM

Ms. O’Shaughnessy said one positive from the video is that it might encourage coaches to address some safety issues within the sport.

“Maybe this can be used as a teaching tool for young kids [to learn] what to do when you get in a situation like that,” she said. “Or, you know, what not to do.”

Ms. O’Shaughnessy said she hopes the video doesn’t cause any trouble for the race organizers at East End Rowing.

“I’m so grateful the Snowflake Regatta is here,” she said. “It’s great for the local kids to go out and row.”

gparpan@timesreview.com