Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg

SUNNA RASCH, LEFT, and David Kaufman, both accomplished Monticello natives, were honored as the village’s queen and king Friday evening at the Schmidt Family Concert on the Sullivan County Courthouse Lawn. Kaufman also won the beard-growing contest.

'This Was A
Good Beginning'

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO — August 31, 2004 – After a summer of rain, the sun shined bright on Monticello’s bicentennial celebration.
From the installation of the new village clock on Tuesday right through Family Day at De Hoyos Park on Sunday, the events of the bicentennial were well received and blessed with good weather.
A Village Barbecue
The barbecue at the Town of Thompson Park was one of the most well attended and joyous events. Natives from as far away as Colorado and Florida made the trip to the Catskills, as did firefighters from Germany.
The Thursday evening event was co-sponsored by the Monticello Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. The West Point Jazz Knights band performed in front of over 1,000 people and a sea of chicken, watermelon and hot dogs.
Les Kristt was awarded a plaque by members of the Bicentennial Committee for his tireless efforts to create a majestic 200th anniversary celebration for the village. Fireworks donated by the Monticello Raceway capped off the night.
Hundreds of families and friends sat together at picnic tables or on the lawn, as children ran around, flying down slides and racing each other. Dozens of volunteers helped serve food and refreshments.
Harvey Lashinsky, whose family owned and operated the famous Lashinsky’s Meat Market on Broadway from 1922-1985, was in town with his son, Josh, “to come back and see everybody.”
Lashinsky, who was a volunteer firefighter and a member of the Boy Scouts, said the village had “changed greatly. I remember its heyday and its low points.
“It’s been coming back,” he added.
The resident of Colorado called his hometown of Monticello “a great place to grow up.”
Village Manager Richard Sush was also delighted.
“You see people from the community that you don’t usually see. That is a real treat.”
Village trustee Victor Marinello said, “Monticello has something to be proud of. We need something like this.”
Kiwanian and lifelong resident Martha Johnson said she enjoyed the barbecue in particular because people can “reminisce and plan for the future.”
A Saturday to Remember
The village board, led by Mayor James Barnicle, dedicated a flag and flagpole to the County Courthouse on Saturday.
United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey was in attendance to help introduce the flag, which was flown over the United States Capitol in honor of the village’s 200th birthday. Hinchey said the village was in the midst of a “resurgence.”
Judge Anthony Kane presided over the ceremony.
The courthouse clock has also been repaired. Kane said the new actions by the community spoke “of great promise” and “commitment.”
Lori Orestano-James sang a sterling national anthem, and during the parade, performed a soaring rendition of “God Bless America.”
The big parade arrived as advertised with loads of local and antique fire trucks, cars, floats, and dozens of marchers on Broadway. Village residents lined up and down the streets to take in the extravagant parade, despite the soaring temperatures.
Afterwards came the official presentation of the new village clock by the Monticello Rotary. Barnicle, who led the unveiling, called it “a great testament to the village.”
King of Beards
Former Town of Thompson Supervisor David Kaufman was the center of attention throughout the weekend. He was named king at the Schmidt Family Concert on Friday evening in front of the courthouse, and he also won honors for best overall beard and medium beard in the beard-growing contest.
The idea for a beard-growing contest stemmed from the same contest 50 years earlier at the sesquicentennial bash. Hundreds of men grew beards for that anniversary. Those that didn’t were fined or sent to a stock.
This time, about 15 men entered the contest. Other top honors were awarded to Jeffrey Gersten for longest beard, Art Woodard for shortest and Dennis Cotton for wildest beard.
Kaufman was impressed that the bicentennial committee had been as successful with a relatively low amount of people involved. He said the committee from 50 years earlier consisted of hundreds more. He had especially glowing words for Kristt.
“They couldn’t have picked a better chairperson,” he said.
Youth Leading the Way
Friday night also featured the naming of local Monticello High School students as ambassadors to the community by youth activist Oliver King. King urged local residents to get more involved in their community.
Finally, the celebration ended with Family Day at De Hoyos Park Sunday, where children were the focal point. They enjoyed an array of different games, including an Army rock wall. A 3-on-3 basketball tournament was also well received. A blues band played energetically throughout the day.
Barnicle said the whole celebration was “something we haven’t had in years.” He noted the collaboration of so many throughout the county made it happen.
“Cooperation is the key. . . . You could feel the excitement in the air,” he said.
Kristt, who was the leading organizer of the event along with Connie Keller and Steven Sharoff, said, “It was well worth the effort. Each of the events [were special].”
He pointed to the barbecue, in which he sensed a “real feeling of community,” and to the parade in which “there was a real cross-section of the community.” One of the best moments for him was Lori Orestano-James singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” which county legislators, county officials, and other local politicians heard.
Kristt believed the celebration and events “will show the community that everybody can get together and accomplish things.” But, he noted, local residents cannot simply relax and pat themselves on the back.
“We have to build on that . . . and continue to have events to make the community feel as one,” he explained. “This was a good beginning.”

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