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December 06, 2016
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The family that plays together...

"We are family," declared weekend visitors Michael & Lisa with son Indie at Callicoon Creek Park, who "stumbled on the place" after dining on main St

My online dictionary defines “family” in a number of ways: “A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household,” “A group of people related to one another” and “People related to each other and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy: I could not turn him away, for he is family.” Lest we forget, American journalist and author Edna Buchanan once declared that “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”

The definition of family is subjective these days as we embrace individuals and groups as our own. Here in the Upper Delaware valley, this notion is (IMHO) even more evident, since we encounter one another on a daily basis, at work, at play and sometimes, we gather in solidarity for a common cause. As I traversed the countryside this past week, I observed all of the various family groups gathering for one reason or another and, happily, felt connected to each.

As we all know, cats are particularly prolific and that saloon ( on Route 17B has spawned another offspring, this time in the form of the Stray Cat Gallery, a new home for local artists to exhibit their talents and share stories with friends and family on how it all comes together. The grand opening last Friday was a collage of artwork created by a diverse family of like-minded individuals and several were on hand to schmooze and celebrate during the event. Multimedia guru Ray Fiero, sculptor Zac Shavrick, woodcarver Paul Stark, potter Ellany Gable, ice sculptor Tom Holmes and jeweler Tamera were but a few of the 20 creative geniuses represented. Sullivan County entrepeneurs Stacy Cohen and Monty Sachs were both on hand at the reception and as usual, Dharma ( the “official dog of the Dancing Cat”) and I ran into our incredible family of friends who embrace us as one of their own.

On Saturday, we both zipped over to Callicoon Creek Park and once again observed the family unit gathering for the final concert in the 2012 series dubbed “Under the Moon in Callicoon.” describes the music festival as “spotlighting the energy and creativity of the Delaware River Valley and our own Catskills. Our performers will be homegrown, fresh and ready to do some pluckin’!” As families gathered on blankets on the grass, the picnic tables were filling up as well, with fresh flowers and candles enhancing the ambiance. Children played before the bands took the stage, and Dharma joined the growing family of dogs, who instantly formed a pack and cavorted down by the riverside.

Local faves “Hoy Polloy” and “Richard and the Secular Sextet” were on the bill and actually performed by the light of the silvery moon. The music was swell, the kids had a ball and the feeling of community unity was abundant and uplifting as neighbors, families and friends came together. Feeling the love, I snapped some pics (“like” The River Reporter on Facebook to see them all!) and my good humor carried over into the next day, excited to check out another great event: the DeBruce Family Labor Day Parade.

Although Debruce, NY shares a mailing address with Livingston Manor, parade enthusiast Carol Montana is careful to point out that “DeBruce is five miles outside of the Manor and very proud of who they are. They may share a zip code, but they cherish their individuality.” Having never been, I had no idea what to expect, but the town was abuzz by the time I arrived, and I learned a lot about the DeBruce family and what community means to the tiny hamlet that celebrates in a very big way. The man behind the magic is Steve Dill, and wherever I wandered, I met members of the Dill clan who pointed me in the direction of Steve—but I never cornered him, as he was mobbed by friends and family throughout the day.

I learned that the parade began 20 years ago with “six people walking down to the corner displaying a flag,” and that Dill continues annually to open his home to an ever growing family of friends and neighbors (the crowd was huge!) who flock to his gorgeous property to take part in the festivities. More than 50 classic cars, the Mountain Tones Marching Band and the Sullivan County Soap Box Derby winners joined the vendors, face painters, fire baton dancers and Karate demonstrators, along with entertainment provided by the “Little Sparrow” band and country crooners “Somerville,” who took time out of their busy Nashville recording schedule to assist in raising funds for the Livingston Manor Free library in this year’s parade, aptly themed “Cars, Crafts and Country.”

According to one of the many Dills, patriarch Steve claims that he “won’t be doing it again, unless he can get an elephant,” since he is tired and has been at it for so long. I may be a new member of this particular family, but don’t believe it for a moment. In fact, I’ve already placed a few calls to some of my circus friends, since I refuse to allow this amazing family tradition to fade away. I don’t think this guy means it—his heart is clearly as big as all outdoors. I have a feeling that his kinfolk won’t let that happen either, since the family that plays together...