Arts & Entertainment – Elizabeth Mascia Music Festival Fundraiser at Pierson Park Aims to Draw 1,000

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by W.B. King – 

For 50 years, the Elizabeth Mascia Child Care Center has been dutifully, and often selflessly, devoted to serving families in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Irvington. To help support efforts to modernize the center, an all-day music festival fundraiser will take place on Saturday, May 19 at Pierson Park.

“Ticket sales are moving nicely, and with good weather we expect a very good crowd,” said Tarrytown resident, event coordinator and executive board member, Myles Birritella who conceived the idea for the “rain or shine” festival.

“We are building the festival out to handle well over a thousand people,” noted Birritella who added this is the first large scale festival to take place at Pierson Park. “Tarrytown’s board of trustees, the police department and the village administrator (Richard Slingerland) have been very supportive and cooperative.”

Stella Blues Band (The Ultimate Grateful Dead Tribute), Damn the Torpedoes (A Tribute to Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers) and SoulShine (An Allman Brothers Experience) are scheduled to each perform long sets of fan favorites.

“I have played in Pierson Park in the 1990s and in 2008, but have not played on the new stage,” said SoulShine singer and guitarist Norm Dodge. “I’m looking forward to being inspired by the beautiful Hudson River and make music alongside the other bands playing that day. It is a privilege and an honor to be asked.”

Dodge, a 1984 graduate of Sleepy Hollow High School, logs roughly 300 gigs per year. For 25 years, he has played with Bob & Norm/Powderfinger and has also performed guitar in Off Broadway productions, including The Wanderer: The Story of Dion and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The upcoming festival performance, he said, is both nostalgic and forward-looking.

“Growing up and living in the area, it has been a unique opportunity to watch the transformation of the Tarrytown waterfront. When I was a kid, the waterfront was mostly industrial and not a place for people to congregate,” said Dodge. “We (SoulShine) are very excited to play the festival and to raise awareness about The Mascia Center and what it was does for the community.”

A History of Caring

Founded in 1967 as the Day Care Center of the Tarrytowns, the center was renamed 20 years later to honor its founding president and champion, Elizabeth Scarborough Mascia, who passed away in 2012.

“Everyone knew her as ‘Libby.’ The center was her vision and she was the force behind every phase of the center’s growth,” said Alice Blood, one of the center’s directors who has been affiliated with the center since the early 1970s. “Whether it was going for funding to the county, going to a foundation, finding a place to hold our fundraiser or finding a new location as we grew—no one could say ‘no’ to Libby.”

Blood, who has served as the center’s treasurer and president, further explained that the center’s quality child care is expensive with many children requiring scholarships to attend, which makes donations essential. Fundraising, the center’s website states, “allows us to serve our local families of all economic backgrounds by providing the inclusive, affordable child care, which establishes a strong foundation for each child’s future.”

In 1967, the center initially served approximately 16 students. This year, Birrittella said the center will care for more than 222 children, age two to 12, including the Pre-K students at John Paulding School, which the center administers.

The center, he added, has touched so many area families over the years that one person has made a generous, special pledge.

“The center has received an offer to match up to $50,000 in donations received in 2018 for our 50th anniversary,” said Birrittella. Raised funds will be earmarked for “capital improvements” on the center located at 171 Sheldon Avenue in Tarrytown.

Food, Fun and Music for All

Along with live music, there will be bounce castles, a playground, splash pad, arts and crafts and face painting for children (from noon to 4 p.m.). For each adult ticket sold ($30 in advance; $40 day of the festival), Birrittella said one child is admitted for free (additional tickets for children are $10 each).

Beer and wine tents will be featured as will roughly 10 food kiosks offering varying cuisines from area businesses, such as the Taco Project. The Flavor Vaults’ Michael Shanker will serve “savory and sweet” items and BeBe Gonzales, owner of Ba­balu’Q, will provide authentic Cuban dishes. Gonzales is also the festival’s food court coordinator.

“A festival like this has been a long time coming. It is great for Tarrytown and it’s for a tremendous cause,” said Gonzales who noted that he will be transforming his Green Machine Laundromat, located on Tarrytown’s Main Street, into a Cuban restaurant, The Cube Inn, in the coming year.

“All the food vendors are excited to participate, listen to great music and enjoy a day at beautiful Pierson Park with family and friends,” said Gonzales. “And it’s terrific that all the money being raised will further support the great work the Mascia Child Care Center does for our community.”

For tickets and more information, visit: www.masciamusicfestival.com.

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