By Andrew Vitelli
We won’t hold it against you if you spent the winter avoiding the cold outdoors at all costs, but with spring almost here there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of Armonk’s beautiful parks and magnificent nature. First, make the most of the spring weather with a hike at the Betsy Sluder Nature Preserve off Old Route 22. “It’s undisturbed nature,” explained North Castle Recreation and Parks Superintendent Matt Trainor. “So we go in there and clear out debris if we have to, but all in all you’re really just going in there to take a walk and take in the scenery.” If lounging in the sun is your goal, Wampus Pond is the perfect spot. “We just had our brand new Gazebo put up over there,” Trainor said. “So when it gets warmer it’s a great place for a picnic.” After Memorial Day, rowboat rentals are available. If your goal is to play some ball this spring, the John A. Lombardi Park and IBM Community Park in Armonk are your best bets.
Learn about the town’s history.
If you’ve never been to Smith’s Tavern, it’s a great place to start. Built early in the 18th century, Smith’s Tavern was nearly burnt to the ground by British forces during the Revolutionary War. It was successfully defended by local Patriot militias, and has withstood all the changes of the 240 years since.
“A portion of Smith’s Tavern predates the American revolution,” said North Castle Town Co-Historian Sharon Tomback. “Patriot forces marched in what is now the parking lot. French troops marched right in front of the Tavern, down Route 22.” The site also gives children an opportunity to see how previous generations lived, Tomback explained. “There was no pizza or deli or grocery. Where did those families get their food? There was no electricity–no cable stations, no internet, no electric lights. What did they do? There was no shopping mall. How did they get their clothes and shoes?” Tours of the site begin in April. Other historical sites worth visiting include the Bedford Road Historic District, The Middle Patent Rural Cemetery on Bedford-Banksville Road, and the Elijah Miller House in North White Plains.
See a show.
Forget about Broadway; you don’t need to leave the Hamlet to enjoy great theater. For example, The Armonk Players recently performed a reading of One Night With Fanny Brice. The Small Town Theatre’s The Other Side of Now, a series of six short comedies written by Westchester residents, is playing March 12 and 13. Small Town Theatre will also be performing a staged reading of Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly on April 15, 16, 22 and 23. Next, Hudson Stage Company will perform Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out of Paper. In May, see the on-stage stars of tomorrow in Lighthouse Youth Theatre’s production of Urinetown, which will be performed May 20 and 21.
Join the Easter Egg Hunt.
The Town of North Castle hosts two of the biggest Easter Egg Hunts, both free and held on March 19, the week before Easter Sunday. The first, at 10:30 a.m., is held at Armonk’s IBM Community Park while the second, at 12:30 p.m., is held at Clove Road Community Center in North White Plains. More than 7,000 toy eggs will be hidden in each location, and last year the events drew close to 400 children each. “When we give the signal, when we say go, all the kids can run into those areas and grab the eggs,” Trainor, the Recreation Director, explained. The events are geared for children between kindergarten and fifth grade, and eggs will contain toys, treats or prize tickets.
Take a Class.
It’s always a good time to learn something new, and the Armonk and North White Plains libraries hold a number of classes for children and adults. On the schedule for March and April are classes in Italian language and culture, world history, art and Tai Chi in Armonk and English, Yoga and Mah Jongg in North White Plains. For children, classes range from Gaming and Lego Club (Armonk) to Crafts and No-bake Cooking (North White Plains). For a complete class schedule, visit the libraries or visit northcastlelibrary.org.
A Westchester native, Andrew is guest editor of Inside Armonk magazine.