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Puppet Procession debuts in Stony Brook’s ‘Legends and Spies’ parade

A puppet of Jonas Smith who will be

A puppet of Jonas Smith who will be part of the "Legends and Spies" parade, created by Processional Arts Workshop, at the 2017 Stony Brook Holiday Festival on the Village Green. Credit: Processional Arts Workshop

One good “Turn” deserves another at Stony Brook’s Holiday Festival, where Revolutionary War heroes Benjamin Tallmadge and Caleb Brewster, of AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” have been turned into giant papier-mâché puppets for their hometown’s first-ever Puppet Procession.


The “Legends and Spies” parade procession, which steps off at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, features 13- to 14-foot puppets based on historic personalities and local school children as puppeteers. The procession includes effigies of Jonas Smith, Stony Brook’s first millionaire; Ward Melville, the eponymous merchant who redesigned Stony Brook as America’s first planned business community, and his philanthropist wife, Dorothy Melville.

“This is the first time puppets are in the parade . . . so youngsters will have fun learning about their history,” says Gloria Rocchio, president of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

The puppets were designed and built by Processional Arts Workshop in Red Hook, New York, which also created the Day of the Dead skeletons for Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parade.

Each puppet in Stony Brook will be paraded by three volunteers — one holding the body and two working the hands — from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Youth Corps, whose 60 members are ages 11 to 17.


“I’m a huge advocate for the history of our community,” says Nolan Adelsky, 17, of East Setauket, a senior at Ward Melville High School and a local-history buff, who chose the Melville puppet because he “revolutionized” Stony Brook.

“I’m sure 99 percent of the people in my school don’t even know who Ward Melville was, even though they walk by his name every day,” Adelsky says. “If not for him, we would not have the Stony Brook Village we know today.”

Alex Kahn, co-director of Processional Arts Workshop with Sophia Michahelles, says the two artists consulted Stony Brook officials, researched local history records and studied portraits to ensure the depictions were historically accurate.

Kahn says their work is inspired by “global carnival traditions in Trinidad, Brazil, New Orleans and Basel, Switzerland” and “the idea of a community coming together and animating a story that is distinctly local and distinctly theirs.”

Also on hand at the parade will be 30 smaller puppets representing details of the historic figures’ lives — such as shoes for Melville, who owned Thom McAn shoe stores, and a sailboat for Smith, who owned a fleet of 32 boats. Made by Youth Corps volunteers, they’ll be carried by local Girls Scouts of America troops.

Stony Brook 38th Annual Holiday Festival

WHEN | WHERE Sunday, Dec. 3, Stony Brook Village Center

INFO 631-689-5888,



10 a.m. Holiday train display opens with O-scale model railroad trains circling on a 20-by-30-foot layout. Continues through Dec. 29 at Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational and Cultural Center.

1 p.m. Festival begins with recorded Christmas music played by WALK 97.5 Radio DJs, an appearance by the station’s Walkie Bear mascot and carols sung by local church choirs.

1-4 p.m. Petting zoo

2 p.m. Santa Claus arrives at the Stony Brook Post Office on a 1932 Mack Ladder Truck. The truck was restored to original condition by members of the Stony Brook Fire Department. Kids can line up to tell their wishes to Santa and grab a candy cane.

2:15 p.m. The “Legends and Spies” Puppet Procession steps off, to New Orleans jazz played by a seven-piece brass band from the Jazz Loft museum in Stony Brook. From Half Hill Road through Stony Brook Village Center.

4-5:30 p.m. Performances by Ward Melville School District chorus and bands and the Long Island-based Celestial Singers a cappella group.

5:30 p.m. Santa arrives at the Stony Brook Post Office surrounded by 3,000 twinkling, multicolored lights on the fire department’s Candy Land Village float. Santa will walk to the Stony Brook Village Green overlooking Stony Brook Harbor, and light the 50-foot Norway spruce tree with help from Long Island children.

Through Jan. 2 Promenade of Trees competition featuring 60 holiday trees decorated by local families and community members. Vote for the best.

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