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Three ways to beat the winter blues

Photos of performers who will play as part

Photos of performers who will play as part of the 2011 Kings Park Jazz Festival, 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at RJO Intermediate School, 101 Church St., Kings Park Photo Credit: None/

Ah, Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. Tuning up the barbecue, uncovering the swimming pool, sharpening the lawn mower blades.

But stop dreaming. It's still deep, dark winter.

If this period between New Year's Day and the first crocuses seems just too depressingly long, there are ways to banish the winter doldrums. Some Long Islanders are taking matters into their own hands by organizing events aimed at lifting the spirits this time of year. Whatever your speed, there's a way to warm your February: Plan your garden, get into a jazz groove, party till the break of dawn - or dream up your own winter bash.

Long Beach Winter Blast

WHEN | WHERE: 7 p.m. Thursday, Matteo's Family Style Ristorante Italiano, 777 W. Beech St., Long Beach, 516-432-6000, thelongbeachchamber.com

ADMISSION: $49 ($45 with advance reservation) includes buffet, open bar, dancing and raffles of prizes such as surf lessons donated by local merchants.

Come winter, the cold wind blasts off the ocean in Long Beach, a community that practically worships summer. To beat it - and the winter blahs - away, Long Beach Chamber of Commerce members devised an annual party. "What happens after the holidays? Everything dies off," says Warren Vegh, the chamber's executive director. "There's nothing to do. It's cold and nasty." The idea, he says, is to eat, sing and dance to a live band into the night, and maybe even the next morning.

Martin Viette Nurseries Seminar Series: Cures for the Winter Blues

WHEN | WHERE: 11 a.m. Saturdays through April 9 (some lectures repeat at 1 p.m.), 6050 Northern Blvd., East Norwich. Reservations preferred. 516-922-5530, martinviette.com

ADMISSION: Free

"What are you doing on a snowy afternoon?" asks Donna Moramarco, education director of Martin Viette Nurseries. "Come sit in a nice warm greenhouse with tropical plants and have some coffee and tea. Just because you can't go out and dig in the dirt doesn't mean you can't be planning a landscape or a garden." Attend a Saturday lecture surrounded by palm trees, orchids, African violets, begonias, gardenias and maybe something new to you, such as schefflera.

Coming up: Learn to raise beautiful orchids from master grower Bill Bianchi (Saturday), landscaping for curb appeal (Feb. 19) and growing - sing it now - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, among other herbs (March 26). Some talks fill up fast, so be prepared for standing room only if you arrive late.

Kings Park Jazz Festival

WHEN | WHERE: 7 p.m. Feb. 18, RJO Intermediate School, 101 Church St., Kings Park, 631-269-3305, kingsparkmuseum.com

ADMISSION: Free

What better way to chase away the winter blues than by listening to the blues in winter - and getting up on stage to play them if you can? The fifth annual festival celebrates Black History Month with pizzazz. "Music brightens the spirits and helps you look forward to spring," says Stephen Weber, media director of the Kings Park Heritage Museum, which hosts the event.

Set in a 1930s Art Deco style auditorium with stained glass windows, the concert features the Kings Park Jazz Trio and some featured soloists. After that, musicians from the audience - amateurs and professionals - are invited onstage with their instruments for a jam session with jazz pianist and teacher Ranny Reeve. They'll perform such jazz standards as "Take the A Train," "Blue Bossanova" and "C Jam Blues." Reeve, whom Weber fondly calls "the Ornery Octogenarian," points his cane at individuals and calls on them to solo.

Arrive early for 6:30 p.m. tours of the museum, which is housed in some of the school's classrooms.

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