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Bellport scarecrows build sense of community

Reece Lynch, 8, and his father, Robert Lynch,

Reece Lynch, 8, and his father, Robert Lynch, 59, of Brookhaven, put pipe cleaners into the plastic pumpkin head of their scarecrow at the annual Bellport Scarecrow Building Contest. (Oct. 13, 2012) Credit: Jessica Stallone

Robert Lynch wrapped his hands around his son Reece, 8, and held him close. They looked down at their scarecrow with its large, red honking clown nose, a sword tucked into its jeans and a paintbrush in hand.

“What should we name him?” asked Robert Lynch, looking down at his son. “You have to combine gladiator, painter and clown.”

Reece tensed up, unsure of what his scarecrow’s name should be. He walked over to his mother, Jan Lynch, and whispered, “Gladipainter.”

The Lynch family was among those participating in the Bellport Scarecrow Building Contest held Saturday in front of the village’s community center. This is the fifth year the village board of trustees and volunteers have come together to hold the event.

The finished scarecrows are put up in front of local businesses along South Country Road in Bellport.

“After the scarecrows are made, they put them up along the village, and then we put cauldrons inside every shop so you can vote for your favorite, funniest or the most creative scarecrow,” said Sherry Binnington, a co-creator of the event. “But you have to go into the shop to vote.”

Most of the local businesses donated items for the contest, said Binnington, a resident of Bellport for 54 years.

“We like to encourage shopping locally, so this helps,” said village trustee Ken Budny, 66, of Bellport.

Voting begins Monday, and the winners of the contest will be announced at the Bellport Halloween Parade on Oct. 27.

“I think it’s great when you’re involved in the community like this, because it brings a lot of people together,” said Elena Sasso, 58, a Bellport Liquor Store employee. “Even just decorating your windows, people come in.”

Joanne Specht, a co-creator of the contest, brings her husband, Brian, and their three children, Sam, 6, Emmy, 10, and Rae, 13, to the event each year.

“We started it to create a family setting where all of the kids can work together and spend the whole afternoon doing a family event,” said Joanne Specht, of Bellport. “The other day I was looking back at pictures of when my eldest daughter was 8, and it’s fun to see how much their skills have developed, to create.”

Families picked through an assortment of clothes, hats and shoes, and stuffed their scarecrows with hay and newspapers.

“It fosters that sense of community, which I think is so vital in our small little villages like this,” said village trustee Leslie O’Connor, 57. “We support our local business so that we as a community can survive.”

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