11/28/13 7:52am
11/28/2013 7:52 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Culinary students Kristina Caschetta (left) Anastasia DeRosa (center) and Alexa Cimino with the carved up roasted turkeys that were prepared for the Dominican Sisters Wednesday morning.

Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary School in downtown Riverhead partnered for the fourth year with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service to cook and prepare about 140 dinners for long-term patients and home-bound seniors of the Dominican Sisters of Hampton Bays.

Local businesses on the North and South Forks teamed up to raise money for the feast.

Chef instructor Vinny Winn worked with about 40 students and high school volunteers in the culinary’s kitchen to prepare the meal. They cooked 15 turkeys weighing 15 pounds each, 100 pounds each of mashed and sweet potatoes, seven gallons of gravy and 20 pounds of stuffing. There were also rolls, cranberry sauce and 24 apple pies and 24 pumpkin pies.

Local elementary schools students made and decorated trays for the meals.

11/28/13 7:00am

LEONARD VAN VLIET COURTESY PHOTO | Leonard Van Vliet and his sister Mary Gibson looking over old family photos during a recent Thanksgiving celebration. Each year Ms. Gibson creates a family tree and updates it with photos so family members can trace their history.

If there’s one family that exemplifies the meaning of tradition, it’s the Dougherty family, a 165-plus bunch that makes it a point to ensure that each Thanksgiving Day celebration is memorable.

Next Thursday, Dougherty family members from near and far will gather at the Moose Lodge in Riverhead to prepare and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner — for about the 50th year in a row.

Five generations have taken part in the custom, initiated by six Dougherty siblings — Claire, Catherine, Margaret, David, John and Madeline — to honor their late grandfather, David, known to them as “Pappy.”

LENNY VAN VLIET COURTESY PHOTO | Each year staples like stuffing and mashed potatoes need to be prepared the same way — cooked according to old family recipes.

“He had tons of coins on a dresser and all around the house. They took all the change and said let’s go to dinner,” said Leonard Van Vliet, Madeline Dougherty’s son.

That first Thanksgiving dinner, held in 1960 at the Crossroads Restaurant in Rocky Point, was attended by about 40 family members “as a celebration of Pappy.”

With the dinner a success, the family wanted to make it an annual event but needed to find a larger, more welcoming location where they could prepare a meal to feed the masses.

A year or so later, Mr. Van Vliet said, his uncle David Dougherty Jr., who was suffering from polio at the time, was honored by Moose International for saving two children who had fallen into Merritts Pond in Riverhead, which had frozen over. He was 12 when it happened.

The awards dinner was held at the Moose Lodge in Riverhead “and that’s how we got to the Moose,” where the tradition has been rooted since 1962, he said.

With more than five decades of practice, the family has gotten preparation for the event down to a science, with each person contributing to the effort.

“Everyone’s jobs are posted and color coordinated on three big poster boards as you enter the lodge,” said Mr. Van Vliet’s daughter, Kayleigh Baig. “No one can say they didn’t know their job.”

Ms. Baig happens to be a chef and is assigned to the kitchen with eight to 10 others — including her dad. Those Thursday mornings, the two can be found opening up the Moose Lodge and donning white chef’s jackets, with their individual sets of chef’s knives in tow.

As family members begin to arrive, the meal starts to take shape, including at least four 25-pound (or larger) birds, 50 pounds of potatoes, 17 pounds of turnips, six heads of cauliflower and numerous pounds of canned beans among a variety of other sides and desserts.

In keeping with tradition, the potatoes must always be kept plain and the stuffing must always be prepared the same way.

“For some reason the stuffing is a big deal,” Mr. Van Vliet said. Fifteen loaves of stuffing bread are broken up and cooked according to his late Aunt Edith’s recipe.

“It is a glutinous mash that everyone wants from their childhood,” he said.

PHOTO COURTESY LENNY VAN VLIET | David ‘Pappy’ Dougherty (from left) with sons David Jr. and John. The annual Thanksgiving dinner is used as a way to honor Pappy.

A few other customs include a fruit salad prepared with cherries and bananas and about 12 pounds of shrimp to start — served annually in a three-tier crystal tower that Ms. Baig said has been in use since the first family Thanksgiving at the lodge.

Numerous eight-foot-long tables are set up in a U-shape and dressed with name cards assigning everyone a seat.

The oldest living child from each of the six original Dougherty siblings sits at what is deemed the “head table,” which looks out over two rows of family members.

Speeches are given by a few select members of the head table, observing family accomplishments and births — as well as a reminder of Pappy, the reason why the family started such a tradition.

Mr. Van Vliet said he, his sister Mary Gibson and cousin David Dougherty III are the force keeping the tradition alive — thanks to all the work put in by family members, who travel from Mississippi and beyond to make each year’s celebration.

The Dougherty family Thanksgiving even has its own Facebook page, he said.

“The locals do a lot, but it takes the whole family working to keep the whole family together,” Mr. Van Vliet said. “No matter how far away we are, we still communicate with each other, even if it’s one cousin to another, who then passes it on to their respective siblings — and thank God for Facebook.”

To give back to the Moose Lodge, the family awards a high school senior whose parent or grandparent is an active member of the Riverhead lodge a $500 scholarship, to be used toward the college or university of their choice.

To win the scholarship, applicants must each write an essay on the appropriate topic “what Thanksgiving means to me.”

The Doughertys have also started contributing to the organization’s building revitalization fund, in part to help ensure that the Moose Lodge can house their family’s tradition for years to come.


11/18/13 11:23am
11/18/2013 11:23 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.

The Tanger Outlets centers in Riverhead and Deer Park on Monday announced a “Moonlight Madness” promotion that will see all its stores open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Night.

The stores will then remain open throughout the night and morning into Black Friday, Nov. 29.

The hours “will offer Tanger shoppers the opportunity to capitalize on huge savings at their favorite brand name and designer outlet stores before the Black Friday rush,” Tanger officials said in a statement.

Is your business making special accommodations for the holiday shopping season? Tell us in the comments.

“With a short holiday season this year, shopping early is more important than ever,” said Steven Tanger, the president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., of Greensboro, N.C. “Tanger Outlets’ Moonlight Madness Sale offers customers a unique shopping experience where they can shop all of our brand name and designer stores across categories at one fun and clean location.”

Among other marketing promotions, Tanger Outlets is offering 20 percent and 30 percent-off “Bonus Savings Passes” that must be downloaded here or picked up at either of the two Tanger Outlets centers by Wednesday, Nov. 27, company officials said.

11/22/12 8:01am
11/22/2012 8:01 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The owner of Pieceful Quilting, Angie Veeck, gets help from neighbor Stella Johnson while cleaning up after Sandy in downtown Riverhead. Damages forced the quilting store to move to Calverton.

Is there much difference between tradition and myth?

To hear some skeptics tell it, in the case of the Thanksgiving holiday the answer is a resounding no.

The notion that Thanksgiving is rooted in the Native Americans’ sharing of their bountiful harvest with early European settlers falls into the myth category — or so they say. One account has it that Abraham Lincoln, looking for a way to boost morale among Union troops in the depths of the Civil War, called for setting aside a day of national thanksgiving.

With the landing at Plymouth Rock and the War Between the States both far in our past, neither the reason nor the historical truth matters at all. Putting aside the overindulgence in eating and holiday shopping that have become the holiday’s unfortunate hallmarks, the goodness and decency we attribute to Thanksgiving are still found at its core.

Schoolchildren may still don construction paper pilgrim hats and feathered headdresses but, as both affluent and needy sit down to eat that day, it’s all about family and friends and giving thanks for blessings large and small.

Think reasons to give thanks are scarce? Think again.

For two years in a row, the East End has been slammed by storms of tropical origin. Irene was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm when she visited in August 2011. Sandy was described as post-tropical when she made her presence known last month. Meteorological categories aside, both storms caused widespread damage and destruction — especially Sandy.

Why include these events in a discussion of giving thanks? Because in both cases, the impact here could have been much, much worse.

Although we live on a narrow peninsula perilously projecting out into the sea, the damage here, although in many cases quite severe, hardly warrants mention compared to what occurred in places like Long Beach and coastal communities in Queens and New Jersey.

Yes, shoreline homes and other structures took a pounding, gasoline was temporarily scarce and the Long Island Power Authority’s unforgivably incompetent response almost makes us long for the days when LILCO kept the lights on. But there was no loss of life here. Homes can be rebuilt and bulkheading replaced. Police, volunteer firefighters and other emergency personnel remained on the job until the crisis passed.

After the winds died down and the tide receded, comments commonly given voice included “We dodged a bullet,” “We lucked out” and “It could have been worse.”

All are true. And what better reason to give thanks?

11/22/12 8:00am
Hurricane Sandy, Thanksgiving, Aquebogue

COURTESY PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe had to empty all the contents from her Aquebogue home upon her return from Brooklyn after Sandy.

Cecily Jaffe had planned to host Thanksgiving dinner at her Harbor Road home in Aquebogue today.

But on Tuesday she found herself traveling to North Carolina in a rental car, away from the cottage she’s called home for over a dozen years.

hurricane sandy

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe of Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery may be out of her home for three months.

Even though she would be far away on Thanksgiving, she said she hoped being with loved-ones would help her forget about her troubles.

And how Sandy swept her house and her life upside down.

The flooding wrecked her appliances, her flooring, her kitchen cabinets. Half of her belongings were lost, she said.

Ms. Jaffe said she’s still in disbelief that she’s homeless, especially around the holidays.

“I didn’t even think it would happen when they were giving all these warnings,” she said. “I really didn’t think it would happen.”

Ms. Jaffe, who owns Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck, said she’s endured storms before, and at first decided to stay home just 200 feet from the edge of the Peconic Bay.

She brought firewood into the cottage so that she would be able to start a fire in the fireplace when the storm hit.

But after days of friends and family urging her to heed evacuate warnings, Ms. Jaffe gave in and drove to her son and daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn. She watched local news coverage that day that showed the waters rising, but was confident the water would recede.

“I could see there was a little bit of flooding in the street, but it must’ve hit that night,” Ms. Jaffe said

The next day, Sandy struck out at Ms. Jaffe in earnest. She said her son and daughter went for a quick walk during a break in the storm to see the damage. After a few minutes they went back into the house and broke the news: a tree had fallen and crushed Ms. Jaffe’s car in Brooklyn.

That Wednesday, two days after the storm hit, she returned back to her Aquebogue house. Inside, she found a layer of mud carried in by a storm surge that rose almost two feet into her home.

She said the house will need to be “gutted.”

“I won’t be able to move back home for the next three months,” Ms. Jaffe said, adding that it’s been hard to find a winter rental to live in. She’s been staying with friends in Eastport since the storm.

Ms. Jaffe has been sending reports to FEMA for assistance while continuing to work at her gallery. The stress is taking its toll on her, she said.

“Every night I’m on looking to see if there’s anything yet from FEMA,” she said. “It’s one thing after another … I’m a little bit crazy. I’m having a little trouble doing my work because I can’t think straight, it’s always on my mind.”

Still, she is glad that the damage caused by Sandy will be repaired, and with Thanksgiving approaching, Ms. Jaffe says she’s counting her blessings.

“It is difficult but I look at people like Breezy Point and Jersey shore that lost everything and say OK this is definitely tough, but I will recover and I will be fine in a few months,” she said.


11/21/12 3:30pm
11/21/2012 3:30 PM
SCCC, Thankgiving, Culinary Arts School in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Culinary students Stacey Green (left) and Chadrick Brittan carving up turkeys Wednesday morning in Riverhead.

Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary School in downtown Riverhead partnered again this year with the Dominican Sisters to cook and prepare about 140 dinners for long-term patients and home-bound seniors of the Dominican Sisters of Hampton Bays.

The money for the feast was raised by staff and local businesses on the North and South forks, so it was a collaboration of a lot of people.

Chef instructor Vinny Winn worked with about two dozen students in the culinary’s kitchen, preparing 15 20-pound turkeys, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce and apple and pumpkin pies.

Aquebogue and Hampton Bays Elementary Schools students made and decorated trays for the meals.

There are efforts across the North Fork to help feed the less-fortunate this Thanksgiving holiday.

• Today, Wednesday, the Lowe’s store on Route 58 in Riverhead is giving out Thanksgiving meals in a bag consisting of turkey, corn, mashed potatoes and rolls. They prepared 500 bags and started giving them out at 11 a.m. and will continue to do so until they run out.

The following are meals being served Thursday, Thanksgiving, and the times:

• North Fork Apostolate, in the McGann-Mercy High School cafeteria in Riverhead on Ostrander Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..

• Church of the Harvest at 582 Raynor Avenue in Riverhead from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m..

• Friendship Baptist Church at 59 anchor St. in Flanders from noon to 3 p.m..

• First Universalist Church of Southold on the Main Road starting at 1 p.m. call to reserve 765-3494.

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11/25/10 2:35am
11/25/2010 2:35 AM

Target, P.C. Richard and Son and the Tanger Outlets all voluntarily close Thanksgiving, and if County Executive Steve Levy has his way, all other major retailers in Suffolk will be required to do the same.

Mr. Levy has proposed legislation requiring stores larger than 7,500 square feet to be closed from noon to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, starting next year.  The law would not apply to food and entertainment businesses.

“Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday that is uniquely distinguished as a family day,” Mr. Levy said in a press release. “Certain stores do not recognize some employees’ need to take time off from work, so this legislation is designed to help preserve an aspect of Thanksgiving that makes it such a special, bonding occasion.”

The bill calls for fines for violations of up to $1,500.

Greg Richard, the president of P.C. Richard & Son called the proposed legislation, “a wonderful thing.”

None of the company’s 65 electronics and appliance showrooms has ever opened its doors on Thanksgiving, Mr. Richard said. Since 1995 the company has run pre-holiday ads explaining why.

“There are certain things that are more important than money and one of them is family values,” Mr. Richard said. “Retailers who choose to open show no respect for their employees and families, and are in total disrespect of family values. You wonder if the executives of those large companies are working on Thanksgiving. More likely they’re sitting home enjoying time with their families while their employees are working.”

Wal-Mart stores are among those open on Thanksgiving. Company spokesman Phil Serghini said he could not comment on the Levy bill because it involves businesses other than Wal-Mart.

County Legislator Ed Romaine, who doesn’t often agree with Mr. Levy, supports this bill.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” the legislator said. “We could not agree more. We should respect national and religious holidays  to allow people to have a day off and enjoy the holiday with their families.”