By Miriam Longobardi
“Snow day!” To some, those words bring joyful shouts while, to others, groans of dread. Students, teachers and snowplow companies are in the first category. Weary parents, store owners, and those expected to report to work regardless of the weather are among those in the second. Regardless of how we feel about it, winter is upon us. I spoke with some local people who help ensure that folks can get out and about and also picked up a few Inside tips on ways to enjoy Armonk this winter season.
While many of us were sunning by the pool or trying to keep cool indoors during the summer months, the town was already earnestly preparing for winter storms. Town administrator Joan Goldberg said, “We’ve increased staffing levels and added several new trucks this year. With the economic downturn of recent years we’d been forced to make some staff cuts and some of the equipment was not able to be replaced. I’m glad we’ve been able to make some changes this year.”
Keeping the town open for business is a priority and involves more than merely clearing all the roads and side streets. Over seven miles of state-owned but town-maintained sidewalks are in need of snow removal. New snow blowers have been added to the arsenal of equipment so shop owners and offices can remain open and people can move about safely.
Goldberg shared that there are some things residents do inadvertently which are counter-productive to snow removal and de-icing. “I don’t think most people know that putting snow on the roads is against the law. Even people that think they’re doing the right thing by pushing the snow across the street or off to the side are actually removing some of the sand and de-icing chemicals the trucks spread. They literally wipe away what the trucks just put down.” She also pointed out that the town is not liable for damages caused to vehicles when they are out working, so if it is possible, staying home and out of the way is the safest course of action even in an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
Once roads are cleared, there are lots of activities available for children and adults alike. Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Matt Trainor shared that the kids’ gourmet cooking class and singing classes are among the more popular choices. Organizations like Mad Science or The Nature of Things offer programs that can spark the imaginations of young scientists. Other ongoing programs for first- though eighth- graders are karate and basketball. “What I like about our basketball program is that there’s no pressure. There are no tryouts or anything like that. Parents often call and ask and they like knowing that if their child wants to play basketball, he or she can just sign-up and play.” Trainor added further, “We offer art classes in oil or watercolor painting for both adults and children. There are a multitude of outside contractors that we work with.” Occasionally the Recreation Department pairs up with local restaurants to offer cooking classes, or will offer different types of dancing, such as ballroom or line-dancing, but the fitness classes fill up fastest. Adult fitness classes like yoga and pilates are the most popular and are ongoing options.
North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro’s personal favorite winter tradition in Armonk is the annual Frosty Parade that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year. The parade culminates a day filled with children’s activities such as a scavenger hunt, hayrides, and winter crafts. The parade marks Frosty returning to his hometown of Armonk and children and families are invited to join in as he passes. The village square named in the famous winter song written by lyricist Steve Nelson is said to be Armonk’s Historic District. Nelson was in the midst of building a home in Armonk at the time he was writing the song made memorable by Gene Autry, and then lived there for the rest of his life. This year’s parade was dedicated to 37-year North Castle Town Councilwoman and lifelong Armonk resident Becky Kittredge who passed away in August. Kittredge, who was also the former North Castle Deputy Supervisor, often played the role of “Mrs. Frosty” in the parade. Schiliro said, “The Frosty Parade really represents community and family fun.”
What do some residents have to say about winter? Andrea Kosakowski, who has been living in Armonk five years told me, “My daughter does not like getting sick but my son loves winter! He loves the holidays, waking up and seeing snow falling and of course, snow days, at least until we use too many and have to give back. But he was born on a snowy day so he’s a snow kid.” Denise Aversa, whose children Gianna, a senior and son, Antonio, a freshman, grew up in Armonk and attend Byram Hills High School, said, “Winter is time for comfort, good food and a fire. I’m looking forward to getting snowed in with my family.” Julie Dickens, owner of Beascakes Bakery in Armonk Town Center, told me, “Winter is a time when lots of people stop in to buy some of the cookie dough we sell. Baking cookies is a great thing to do at home on a snowy day.”
As temperatures plunge and snow starts to fall, you have plenty of options. Your child can take a cooking class and whip you up a gourmet meal and then you can work it off in a fitness class because roads will be cleared for you to get there. Whether you stay cozy indoors or you brave the elements for some outdoor fun or shopping locally, the town of Armonk is ready!
Miriam Longobardi is a freelance writer, fourth grade teacher and single mother of two daughters living in Westchester. A breast cancer survivor, she volunteers for the American Cancer Society and has completed four marathons and travels the world. Follow her on Twitter @writerMimiLong.