Yorktown Ice Cream Shop, Dog Park Association, Connect Over Singing Dog
YORKTOWN, N.Y. – If you heard a howling version of “Happy Birthday” sung at the fifth annual Yorktown Festival and Street Fair Sunday, it was JJ the dog.
The singing dog is the face of JJ’s Scoop House, a new ice cream shop in Yorktown. His owner, Justin Fagan decided to open the new business because, he said, JJ loves ice cream. The shop itself is in a tudor building on Rear Street near the biking path.
“We decided the town really needed a little ice cream shop,” said Fagan, a chiropractor.
During the festival Fagan and JJ roamed over to the Yorktown Dog Park Association’s table. It is raising money to clean the park, which just received approval from the town board in September, before it opens to the public. The park had been in the works for a decade and the association is organizing a cleanup event on the National Community Service Day Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sylvan Glen Park on 202 Lexington Ave. (off of Morris Lane).
Fagan is anxious to use the new dog park with JJ and offered to help with fundraising for the cleanup.
“We’re trying to bridge the gap between health and activity in the town and animals,” he said.
Sunday, Fagan and his wife Ghenya Gorbatko also had a table at the festival, which was expected to draw more than 20,000 people this year. In the spring, they plan to open another store called Trail Side Café, which will offer a healthy, organic alternative, something he said is missing in northern Westchester.
“In the city on every block you can find healthy food, and that’s what we want to offer here,” Fagan said.
Gorbatko, originally from Russia, has made it her mission to make people healthy and fit. She would run the new store, which will offer a green breakfast smoothie that mixes fruits and vegetables, including avocado, and a gluten- and sugar-free protein shake, she said.
For now, Gorbatko offers her hand-crafted health foods at JJ’s Scoop House. The couple plays a subtle tug-of-war over their customer’s eating habits. She doesn’t hide her dislike of sweets and may even try to talk you out of buying ice cream in favor of her juices, smoothies, salads, soups and gluten-free baked goods. Sabotage aside, Fagan says it strikes a good balance. If you buy ice cream, you can also buy salad, so it’s not that bad, he said.
In the middle of all of this is JJ, who Fagan says will soon have a storybook made about his life.
“He’s lived an interesting life,” Fagan said.
Among the thousands in attendance Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. was Thomas Pavletich, who grew up in Yorktown. He has taken his wife, Tammy, and son Thomas, 7, to the festival each of the last five years.
“It’s a Yorktown thing,” said Tammy, who moved to Yorktown from Wisconsin.
Thomas Sr. said a few of his friends are vendors at the festival, who he plays pickup basketball with as part of Lakeland’s continuing education program. The family reached a consensus that the wings from Nuttin To It Wings was the best part of the festival.
The event, which closed Commerce Street and Veterans Road, also had plenty of games for the kids, including bouncy castles, face painting and rock climbing. Danielle Palonisano watched as her daughter Kaelym, 11, climbed the rock wall and her niece Madison had her face painted. She moved to Yorktown from the Bronx two weeks ago, while her sister Helen moved about six months ago.
Christian Sinagra, 11, rose to the test of strength game, while the 12U Yorktown Huskers held a raffle to raise money to go to Cooperstown next summer for a week-long tournament.
“I think this turnout is better than last year,” said Christian’s mother Lana, of Yorktown. “I think this whole town is lively with a lot of community spirit.”
About 250 street vendors had tables lining Commerce Street and Veterans Road Sunday.