Toni Boornazian

Let the Light Shine Bright

Chanukah Candle Lighting

On December 5th, members of the SPNA community and the East End Temple joined together for a celebratory candle lighting, marking the eighth and last night of the festival of Chanukah. Rabbi Joshua Stanton began the event with a short holiday blessing and SPNA provided hot chocolate and traditional jelly doughnuts called sufganiyot. Above is a photo of SPNA President Jason Money and Rabbi Joshua Stanton in front of the resplendent menorah.

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Its My Park Day

Caring for Our Community Together

On October 16th, members of the SPNA community came together to care for their park for It’s My Park Day. They joined thousands of New Yorkers who come together each year to volunteer and celebrate their neighborhood parks and public spaces through It’s My Park. Volunteers of all ages and sizes pitched in to weed, plant, sweep, and provide key maintenance for the public space.

We especially thank Friends Seminary for bringing a large group to assist with the many tasks on It’s My Park Day.

On November 6th, for our special volunteer day, we worked to prepare the park for the cooler months ahead. Below is a family who came out to help with the event.

We are very grateful to SPNA Gardening Chairperson Doris Dieter (pictured below working on the fountain bed) and board member Claire Brennan for their efforts in organizing all of the gardening days throughout the year.

In addition, our bi-weekly Gardening Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, weather permitting. Masks are required. No experience is necessary.

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Dapper Dogs Walk The Red Carpert

Halloween Dog Park Costume Parade and Contest

On Sunday, October 24th, our neighbors and their furry friends came together for some friendly competition for the Halloween Dog Park Costume Parade and Contest, organized by SPDogs. Pets and their owners walked the red carpet, showing off their creative, cute, and classy ensembles. Awards and cash prizes provided by SPNA were given for Best Doggie Costume, Best Dog Duo or Group, and Best Parent and Pup. In addition, one duo received an honorable mention. A photo gallery with the winners and many of the participants is included below.

SPNA sends a big thank you to SPDogs’ Jeff Fagan, who organized the event with help from Gale Bond. Both Jeff and Gale were indispensable in helping to bring this first Halloween pet parade to the Stuyvesant Park Dog Run (shown above). In addition to cultivating a joyful and fun event, they collected donations for Animal Haven here in New York City, helping to spread love and joy to animals across our city. You can still donate online by clicking on this link.



Below is a photo gallery with many of the participants:

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Phase Two

Caring for Our Trees

In early 2020, SPNA reached out to Bartlett Tree Experts to conduct an assessment of the trees’ needs in Stuyvesant Square Park in order to maintain their health and beauty. Eric Anderson of Bartlett Tree Experts then submitted a three phase plan to SPNA.

Phase One of the plan, which centered on providing key maintenance for the park’s two 100+ year-old heritage elm trees, was executed in January 2021. Thanks to the generosity of our community, which participated in a matching grant provided by Partnership for Parks, we were able to raise the $6,200 needed for Phase One of Bartlett’s plan.

With a $9,300 grant from the Greenacre Foundation, SPNA was able to cover the costs of Phase Two, which entailed pruning trees that cast a heavy shadow over flower beds, preventing the beds surrounding the fountains from receiving sufficient light and air for the plants to grow. This work was accomplished across three days in November. The photos above and below depict work from this phase.

SPNA is very appreciative of Partnership for Parks, of the grant from the Greenacre Foundation, of the work of Eric Anderson from Bartlett Tree Experts, and of the support of the Stuyvesant Square community in our continuing efforts to protect the many beautiful trees in our park.

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Toxic and Protective

Monkshood, also known as aconitum, aconite, wolfsbane, and devil’s helmet, is a member of a genus of over 250 flowering plants in the Ranunculaceae family. These herbaceous perennial plants are native to the mountainous parts of North America, Europe, and Asia, and grow in mountain meadows in moisture retentive but well-drained soils. They prosper in full sun to partial shade in temperate climates and grow to two to four feet tall and one to two feet wide. The leaves of the plant are palmate, meaning they resemble hands with lobed “fingers” that often have toothed edges and vary in color from light to dark green. The two- to ten-petaled flowers come in shades of blue and purple. However, rare species of monkshood can have white, yellow, and even reddish pink flowers. The plants are not invasive and are moderately difficult to grow. Once planted, they do not take well to transplantation.

The name monkshood is derived from the helmet-shaped petal distinguishing each flower, which is called a galea, also deriving its name from a Roman helmet. The conical shape resembled the hoods worn by English monks. Other common names for monkshood, such as aconitum and wolfsbane, stem from the plants’ most popular trait: they are poisonous. The roots and tubers of monkshood are particularly toxic and contain aconitine and related alkaloids. When touched, numbness occurs. When ingested or absorbed into the skin, diarrhea, convulsions, ventricular arrhythmia, and other symptoms develop, eventually leading to death.

Monkshood galea

Monkshood galea

Monkshood galea

Poisons from the plant were used to coat weapons. The name aconitum derives from the Greek word for dart or javelin, the tips of which were poisoned with the substance. The Minaro in Ladakh used the poison on their arrows to hunt ibex, while the Ainu in Japan used it to hunt bears. In addition, the Aleuts of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands used the toxin on their harpoons to hunt whales. The Greek name lycoctonum, which translates literally to “wolfsbane,” refers to the practice of coating arrows with the poison to kill wolves. In Greek myth, wolfsbane originated from the toxic slobber of a three-headed dog named Cerberus, the fearsome canine guardian to the gates of Hell.

In addition to hunting, the poison was used for warfare, espionage, and protection, inspiring its inclusion in numerous facets of popular culture. For example, the 1931 film Dracula began the trend of associating wolfsbane with protection from vampires. It is only when Mina discards the wolfsbane from her room that Count Dracula is able to approach her. In the Harry Potter series, Remus Lupin, a tormented werewolf, drinks a potion of wolfsbane carefully concocted to control his transformations, inspired by the use of the plant in the Middle Ages to treat lycanthropy and deter wolves. In Game of Thrones, one of Tywin Lannister’s commanders is assassinated by a dart, identified as being coated with wolfsbane.

Despite the toxicity of monkshood, the plant still has medicinal properties. It can be used to reduce fever, as a topical anesthetic, and to treat neuralgia. However, the plant is no longer used for medicine because of the slim margin in determining the correct dosage. The risk of using too much outweighs potential benefit of the toxin.

A few monkshood plants can be found in Stuyvesant Square Park. They are best enjoyed from afar – even gardeners must use gloves when caring for them. Bees and butterflies, however, are immune to the toxins. Although spooky season is over, the plant will offer protection from any vampires and werewolves who may still be among us.

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