Families have long flocked to Greenport to give their kids the unforgettable experience of a ride on an old-fashioned carousel in Mitchell Park, and this summer there are a few more reasons to bring a kid here, or be a kid here yourself, between the relaunch of a mini-railroad through the woods, to a new piano available for anyone to play in Mitchell Park and a festival of skateboarding culture, art and music in mid-July.

The Greenport Express Chugs Back Into Town

For about three decades, beginning in the mid-1980s, Greenport resident and former LIRR conductor Frank Field had a mini-railroad in his backyard on Webb Street, and invited families to bring their kids on a magical ride through the woods.

Many members of the Greenport Rotary had fond memories of the mini-railroad, which closed in 2012, and about seven years ago Rotary member Joe Cherepowich “proposed a simple thought: keeping this small train ride a unique tradition in our community,” said Rotary member Richard Israel at the June 29 dedication of the new mini-railroad built by the Rotary at the Moores Lane Polo Grounds.

Mr. Israel and his family donated significantly to the construction of the train depot, which is adjacent to the Greenport Skate Park on Moores Lane.

“We were all in — it sounds wonderful. We will just move the train and keep the tradition going- simple!” he said. “When you start a journey, you never know where it is going to lead you. Just restoring the train took a myriad of people and organizations.”

He said it took “about three years of volunteer work to restore the train,” built in the 1950s and initially dubbed the Miss Lisa B., but rechristened the “Joe Cherry Choo-Choo,’ in honor of Mr. Cherepowich.

“The planning and building track took another multitude of people — dealing with the DEC, clearing and leveling the track, building the bridge, the donations of materials and labor to create this ride, living through Covid and shortages and the price increases that it created,” he added. “Make no mistake — what you see here today took the generosity and hard work of hundreds of people. What you see here today is not just a building and train ride, it’s a testament to our village, and the people that make it special.”

Rotarians Joe Pagano and Fred Orestuk took turns as conductors throughout the first day the train was running, and among the passengers on the first ride was former Greenport Mayor George Hubbard, who brought his one-year-old grandson to experience the ride as he remembered generations of kids doing before him. Mr. Hubbard worked to shepherd the project through hurdle after hurdle during his time leading the village board.

Current Greenport Mayor Kevin Stuessi said he is currently attending conductor school and will be one of the conductors on the train later this summer.

The railroad will not be open during the fire department carnival this weekend, but will be open beginning June 12, 2024, through the summer and fall into mid-October on Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 — no cash is accepted, but credit and debit cards are.

Poppy Johnson with the piano she donated to the village.

Sky Piano Comes to the Boardwalk

If you’re strolling through Mitchell Park alongside Greenport Harbor, don’t be surprised to hear the sweet sound of an acoustic piano echoing throughout the park. Pianists are everywhere, it turns out, and the Friends of Mitchell Park is encouraging their talents.

The volunteer project was initiated by Friends of Mitchell Park board member Bob Mills, who suggested the board find a piano to install in the park. Turns out, his fellow board member, Poppy Johnson, had a Kimball console piano and an artist’s brush and was ready to donate her instrument and paint it.

Doug Gregg, aka Classic Piano Doc, got involved with the effort, moving the piano to the park and donating his professional tuning services, while Wm J Mills & Co of Greenport made and donated a canvas cover to protect it from the elements.

Ms. Johnson painted the piano an inviting sky-blue, filled with clouds, and it’s now dubbed the “Sky Piano.”

“I was inspired by the first work of art I ever bought, ‘Left Turn Sky,’ by Fluxus artist Geoff Hendricks, who painted blue skies on all sorts of objects,” said Ms. Johnson. “I love clouds, I find them both beautiful and funny.”  

“We’re excited to receive this musical gift,” said Greenport Mayor Kevin Stuessi. “The village is always looking for ways to encourage active engagement with the park, and the piano felt like a natural opportunity together with our new farmer’s market, also supported by Friends of Mitchell Park.”

The farmers market runs on Fridays from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

A Mitchell Park Marina employee tries out the piano (Bob Mills video)

Mitchell Park now joins thousands of public parks and spaces around the United States and internationally in making a piano available for the public to play and enjoy in the heart of the village’s business district, according to Friends of Mitchell Park board president Diane Mulvaney. 

For more information about the Friends of Mitchell Park, visit its website at https://www.friendsofmitchellpark.com/


Sound & Skate Festival Returns

Greenport Skate Park Inc., which is working to revitalize the nearly thirty-year-old skate park at the Moore’s Lane Polo Grounds, is again holding its Sound & Skate Festival on Saturday, July 13 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Greenport Skate Park has recently hit a significant milestone, raising $100,000 towards the park’s renovation.

The festival aims to build on this momentum, further raising awareness and funds to complete the project and provide a safe, modern space for local youth.

“We’re incredibly excited about this year’s Sound & Skate Festival,” said Rena Wilhelm, President of Greenport Skate Park Inc. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring our community together, celebrate local talent, and support the revitalization of our beloved skate park. We encourage everyone to come out, have fun, and be a part of this fantastic event.”

The event includes skateboarding demonstrations, live music, art, food, and activities for all ages, all in support of the revitalization of the Greenport Skate Park. It also includes skateboarding activities and interactive art projects specifically designed for kids.

The festival will feature a skate contest, hosted by Will Anguilo of Limitless Culture, showcasing the skills of local and visiting skateboarders. It includes prizes in a variety of categories.

The festival will also host more than 40 vendors, including food trucks, handmade soaps, hand-poured candles, CBD products, apparel, artisan goods, and more.

A diverse lineup of bands will provide an eclectic soundtrack throughout the day, and artists will create works of art on large canvases in a Live Painting Showcase, featuring 24 artists from Long Island, New York City & New Jersey.

The event also features a double-sided eight-foot mural directed by renowned face and body painter @painterdeb, inviting kids to contribute to this collaborative project. These pieces are designed to both beautify the event and be part of future fundraising efforts for the skate park.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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