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I Love My Park volunteers spruce up Long Island state parks

Teresa Bernard of East Northport, center, weeds the

Teresa Bernard of East Northport, center, weeds the garden as she volunteers at Sunken Meadow State Park as part of the fifth annual I Love My Park Day cleanup effort. Credit: Steve Pfost

Lifeguard chairs and new picnic tables will have to wait a bit longer for a fresh coat of paint at Sunken Meadow State Park, but the butterfly garden is ready to play host.

Saturday’s drizzle kept I Love My Park Day volunteers in Kings Park from wielding paintbrushes but not from gathering litter, assembling 17 picnic tables and weeding the garden, where grows the milkweed, beloved of Monarch butterflies.

Shannon McMaugh, 17, of Kings Park, who had painted her fingernails robin egg blue, was not a novice at using a power screwdriver to bolt the picnic tables together.

“Oh no, I’ve done other stuff, like fixing our mailbox,” she said, flashing a grin to her father, Tim McMaugh, 52.

“We enjoy the beach so much, it’s good to come and help out,” said her father, whose son, Andrew, 14, also joined in.

More than 1,000 Long Islanders undertook these and other projects Saturday, including cutting back trail-invading bushes at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, said George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

To replace trees ravaged by the Southern pine beetle, as many as 600 pitch and white pine seedlings were planted at Connetquot River State Park Preserve.

Despite the damp, volunteers were able to paint guide posts along various hiking trails and emergency lanes at Babylon’s Robert Moses and Wantagh’s Jones Beach state parks.

At Belmont State Lake Park in West Babylon, the cannons mounted outside the regional headquarters were painted black and their bases white.

“That was fantastic,” Gorman said. The cannons were captured by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry from the English navy during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

Katherine Vasilopoulos, 49, of Commack, tilled Sunken Meadow’s butterfly garden with her two daughters while her two sons helped put the picnic tables together.

“It’s a wonderful event. We come every year and then we come back to see the fruits of our labor,” she said

“It’s everyone’s park,” said Jeffrey Mason, Sunken Meadow park director. “The more you get people involved, the more they take ownership.”

Volunteers are welcome to return with the sunshine and paint those lifeguard chairs and picnic tables white. “Every day’s a volunteer day,” he said.

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