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Story and photos by Alice Gerard
At the age of 12, Kisa is enjoying her retirement.
Kisa, a Siberian husky, is a sled dog that has retired to pet dog status. According to her owner, Bobbie Cap, Kisa enjoys outdoor time, especially during the winter, and meeting new people. She had her opportunity to meet people and make friends March 5 at the Nike Base.
The open house featured a variety of displays in the Community Center, including the Siberian Husky Club of the Niagara Frontier, the Grand Island Parks Department, the Grand Island Recreation Department, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and the Environment, the Niagara River Greenway Commission and wood carver Paul Yeager.
Guitar teacher Ray Braselton added to the ambience by performing a wide variety of genres, from Spanish classical guitar to pop and folk songs. Braselton offers beginning and intermediate level guitar lessons through the town’s Recreation Department. A fan of all genres of music, from classic rock to the Beatles to holiday music, Braselton, who has been teaching for 50 years, said he was there to promote the Recreation Department and its music program. Interested people should sign up at https://grandislandny.myrec.com.
Additionally, Daniella Salvatore was available to answer questions about the town’s adaptive programs, designed for children and young adults who have a variety of disabilities, including physical, mental health issues, developmental, intellectual and sensory. Activities available through the adaptive programs include creative movement, bowling, game nights, cooking and baking, sports and art. For more information, call Salvatore at 716-773-9680 or email [email protected].
Activities at the event included an open house at the Golden Age Center, with lunch available for $4; an open house at the town’s art studio, which offers lessons for youth; a scavenger hunt; and a hike along the Nike Base trails, guided by Conservation Advisory Board members Yeager and Diane Evans.
In addition, there was a scavenger hunt. Participants had to look for numbers that were placed inside buildings, outside buildings and along the trails. The numbers were attached to tables, doors, trees, walls and other places. People who found at least 17 numbers won one prize, and people who found all 31 numbers won two prizes. All prizewinners were entered into a drawing to win an additional prize that was hand-carved by Yeager.
Wood-carver Paul Yeager shows some of his creations that he displayed at the Community Center Open House.
Bobbie Cap and her companion, Kisa.
“We like to educate people about Siberian huskies and dog sledding. So many people think you’re being mean to dogs. They love to pull,” said Cap, who is a member of the Siberian Husky Club of the Niagara Frontier.
Cap said she and her husband, Mike, who died two years ago, owned sled dogs since 1977. She presented the dogs, while Mike raced them.
Also in the Community Center was Michelle Lockett, community engagement director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, who was sharing information about the 2023 Paddles Up! event, scheduled for July 29 in Beaver Island State Park. She said this outdoor recreation event will feature ecotours and interpretive hiking tours. She suggested checking the Greenway Commission’s website at niagararivergreenway.com/paddles-up for more information. Currently, information from last year’s event is posted, but that is expected to change soon, Lockett explained.
In the Golden Age Center, the lunches that were offered for sale included chicken ala king, chicken noodle soup and chili. Carrie Mesmer, recreation leader, took visitors on a tour of the building that included the cafeteria, the pool room and the craft room. Face painting was also offered to people in the cafeteria.
In the art studio, instructors from the Recreation Department assisted children who were drawing and coloring pictures.
Art instructor Emily Pauel, who facilitates theater programs during the summer, said, “It’s nice to see new faces and to get the word out about our art program.” She said she also enjoyed seeing children enjoy the space.
On the trail that borders the Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary and extending to the West River, the slushy and occasionally slick snow did not deter both adults and youth from participating in the hike. Evans and Yeager pointed out such things as poison ivy vines wrapping around trees; footprints made by deer, squirrels, rabbits and other animals; holes dug in the ground by deer looking for food; and varieties of trees growing along the trail.
Back at the Community Center, Laura Prusinski, office administrator and scheduler for the community center and adult programs and leagues, said she was “excited because we are offering different venders, in addition to the recreation programs, for the community to see and experience what Grand Island has to offer. I thank the Recreation staff, the Parks staff and the Golden Age Center staff for their hard work and their efforts to prepare for this fantastic event.”
Emily Prauel is an art instructor at the town’s art studio.
Laura Prusinski, office manager for the town’s Recreation Department, stands with town employees Megan Reynolds, Trysten Cardin-Galeza and Sean Graham, in front of one of the town’s kayaks.
Hikers get ready for slushy trails (Photo by Kevin Cobello)