Christmas visit from the Ass Whisperers

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Mona Corrente of Church Lane in Aquebogue, left, brings out treats for the donkeys that came with their caroling owners Saturday afternoon. From left, Buddy with owner Debbie Miller of Mattituck and Cathy Springer’s donkeys Lil E and Pop E.

The weather outside wasn’t frightful but the mood was certainly delightful as four donkeys, two horses and eight humans took to caroling on Church Lane in Aquebogue as heralds of the holiday season for the second year in a row Saturday afternoon.

The group call themselves the East End Ass Whisperers but new this year were two horses, ridden by Jamesport residents James Maggio and Lailah Coulter.

“I’m good friends with Cathy Springer and she asked us to come,” Ms. Coulter said with a smile. “We do whatever she says.”

Ms. Springer, the founder of the East End Ass Whisperers, rode in a purple cart pulled by two of her rescued donkey. She said her personal motto is “Dress up and show off” and added she has loved bringing good cheer to her neighbors by ass for the past two years.

“My neighbors are so wonderful,” she said. “And they’re expecting us, so we better get going!”

Neighbors including Mona Corrente listened to the group’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with glee and offered the four-legged carolers carrots and treats from a silver platter.

“I knew they might have bits in their mouths, so I got smaller treats,” said Ms. Corrente as she hand-fed the donkeys and horses.

Ass whisperer Bernedette Deerkoski of Mattituck and vocal coach Maribeth Mundell of Cutchogue explained how donkeys are a familiar reference in the Bible.

“Mary rode to Bethlehem on a burro when she was pregnant because she couldn’t walk,” said Ms. Deerkoski.

Emily Deerkowski, walking her donkey, Diesel, told a story that when Jesus was nailed to the cross he asked that the donkeys be taken away because he didn’t want them to see him in such a condition.

“They say that’s the reason that Sicilian donkeys all have the cross on their hind quarters,” she said.

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