Students bring holiday spirit to Newark merchants

During a visit to her hometown of Woodbury for Thanksgiving, Tracey Kelly learned community members painted holiday decorations on the windows of businesses in a show of support for local merchants.

That sparked an idea of something she could do in Newark. It would involve Newark High School students, especially seniors like her daughter Meghan Johnson, who can’t participate in things they normally would because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Kelly’s first call was to Joey Nicosia, owner of Joey’s Northside Market, who made a donation to help defray the cost of paints and other supplies the window-decorating artists would use.

“I remember years ago when windows in downtown Newark were painted for the holidays and this project reminds me of that kind of community spirit,’’ Nicosia said, noting two of the windows in his store were painted. “They did a great job. I think this is a very good project for the kids to do.”

Marie Colacino, treasurer of the NHS Varsity Girls Volleyball Boosters, authorized a $100 donation for the cause.

By the end of the project, 28 merchants had their windows painted or were decorated by 28 seniors, 14 students from Newark Middle School, members of Girl Scout Troop 40540 and others. 

A reindeer scene at Save A Lot, 100 Mason St., painted by Kamryn Ellersick, her sister Makayla and mother, Amanda, and Erica Puff.

Participating businesses included Angel’s Attic, Arcadia Thrift Shop, BB’s Pizzeria, Bodine’s Southend Market, Canal View Family Restaurant, CrossPark Family Restaurant, Dance With Me Studios, Deb’s Craft and Things, Doug Kent’s Rose Bowl Lanes, En Vogue Salon, Gurcan Tailor, Love’s Furniture and Carpet, Main Street Restaurant, Marlock Electric, Marshall Exteriors, Mason’s Barber Shop, National Sweepstakes Company, Parker’s Grille & Tap House, Pontillo’s Pizzeria, Premier Martial Arts, Revive Salon and Spa, Ruffalo Appliance, Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria, Save A Lot, Siren’s Salon, Tom Wahl’s and Woody’s Hometown Pizza.

Teri Pierce, who owns National Sweepstakes on Union Street, had a snowman, trees and “Happy Holidays” painted on a window by Johnson and fellow senior Faythe Burns. 

“Hopefully Newark keeps this up each year,’’ Pierce said. “This could be a really nice tradition.”

A snowman is painted at National Sweepstakes Company, 1143 E. Union St., by Meghan Johnson and Faythe Burns.

Pierce, and her daughter, Marek, a freshman, painted windows at nearby Pontillo’s Pizzeria and Gurcan Tailor with junior McKenzie Peters and her sister Hannah Peters, a freshman, plus their dad, Todd Peters, owner of Premier Martial Arts on West Miller Street.

“We had a great time,” Pierce said. “It was a lot of fun to get together with others and do something special for our community.”

Johnson and Burns also painted a window at Woody’s Hometown Pizza on West Union Street and helped paint four windows at Marshall Exteriors on East Union Street with senior Jensyn Cintron and Sodus High School junior Montana Gahr. 

“I think this was a good experience for us and the community,” Johnson said. “The merchants were very appreciative.”

NHS seniors Jaston Brooks, Jack Comella, Isabelle Figueroa, Ryan Hermenet and Brenna Stefanides, along with sophomore Jordan Brooks and 2019 graduate Nadia Rothpearl, painted three windows with “Peanuts” characters at Canal View Family Restaurant on West Union Street.

“We had a lot of fun,” Hermenet said.”It was a great way to work together and do something as friends with everything that’s happening with COVID. The people at Canal View loved watching through the window as we painted. It is wonderful how our community came together and helped make our senior year as great as possible, and that we could give something back to the community.”

Newark students paint Schroeder from “Peanuts” on a window at Canal View Family Restaurant, 247 W. Union St.

Like so many others, Kelly is happy with the outcome of the project.

“It really has brought out a lot of community spirit,’’ she said. “It especially lifted NHS seniors’ spirits, who loved doing this for their community that has supported them for so many years. Even though everyone was wearing masks, you could see the smiles in their eyes.”