People from the Stony Brook University, Stony Brook Southampton and local communities flocked to the Southampton campus for the annual Lighting of the Windmill on December 5.
The festive holiday tradition celebrated the cherished landmark and historical icon, which has stood at its current site on Shinnecock Hills since 1888.
Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis addressed the crowd at Chancellors Hall, noting how the windmill has overseen so much over the years, from Tennessee Williams making it his home in 1957, to the rich local arts history of writers, painters and musicians, to the educational impact that has been made on the region.
“It’s humbling to think about, isn’t it? That while Long Island, Southampton, and Stony Brook have been striving and changing, the Windmill has been there, watching—a symbol of resilience and constancy,” McInnis said. “In this season of gratitude and thanks, I am grateful for the passion of the community that has consistently fought to preserve this very important landmark.”
McInnis praised how the Southampton campus has breathed new life into the community, with its renovated residence halls; the first LEED Gold Certified library on Long Island; the Food Lab center; the Lichtenstein Center, which hosts cutting-edge MFA programs in Creative Writing and Literature, Film, and Television Writing; the School of Health Technology and Management; and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences with its Marine Sciences Center. McInnis also noted that the campus is the future location of the state-of-the-art Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
“The Windmill has become a symbol for this kind of ambition and hope,” McInnis said. “And the restoration of the Windmill at once preserves our past and pushes forward for a bright new future…churning and rotating much like a windmill itself.”
New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who led the effort to secure the $500,000 capital grant that helped restore the legendary landmark, also spoke to the crowd at the event, along with Vice President of Student Affairs Rick Gatteau, State Senator Anthony Palumbo, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.
The event was free and open to the public, and featured refreshments, music, an alumni-sponsored photo booth, guided windmill tours, crafts for children and other family activities, along with a visit from Wolfie himself. Chris Paparo, manager of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Marine Sciences Center, also delivered a lecture, “Wild Long Island,” which reviewed the plethora of wildlife that inhabits the air, land and sea of Long Island.
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