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Bonding over blueberries

Group of friends spreads holiday joy through song

Created date

November 26th, 2013
Bowl of blueberries

As Brooksby's Baldwin Court residence building began to fill with new residents in 2005, those who called the community home also found themselves in good company. "One by one, as each family moved in, we more or less bonded," says Charlie Vorosmarty, who moved to Brooksby with his wife Marge from East Chester, N.Y. "It happened to be that we were compatible people living close by on the floor," adds Hal Fohlin, who moved to Brooksby from New Hampshire with his wife Barbara. The group grew to six couples, known as the Blueberries for their penchant for the blueberry pancakes served Tuesday mornings at Brooksby's Greentree Cafe. At the time, one of the Greentree Cafe's managers was advertising blueberry pancake breakfasts on Tuesdays. The new neighbors often filled two tables for the event. "It was a spontaneous thing; it was nothing that was very deeply thought out," Hal says.

Holiday cheer

Following the spontaneity of the blueberry breakfasts, more organized events emerged among members of the group, including Mexican train dominoes on Monday evenings and holiday caroling. A former elementary school teacher with an appreciation for volunteerism, Marge saw an opportunity to gather as a group to spread holiday cheer within Brooksby's continuing care community. As many as 30 people join to perform hymns and holiday carols with both Christmas and Hanukkah songs for crowds of more than 50 people. The Brooksby community looks forward to the annual visit from the carolers, dressed in red and white, and Santa and Mrs. Claus Hal and Barbara Fohlin who pass out candy canes and tell stories at the end of the musical performances. "They look so unique and so wonderful," Marge says of the Fohlins. Under Marge s tutelage, the group of carolers began practicing last month for its eighth annual performance, but when she first shared her idea for the event, Marge was met with skepticism. "Group members claimed they couldn't sing. I said, 'It doesn t matter.' We're going to bring the joy of Christmas," Marge says. The group of performers naturally grew beyond the Blueberries, through word of mouth. "We didn't ask anyone; they came to us," Marge adds. "It keeps us active, it gets us out as a group, and we have a lot of fun with it," Charlie says. "Especially with the caroling, you don t have to be a professional."

Active tradition

Now, the Blueberries meet for dinner every Thursday evening in one of Brooksby's private dining rooms, where they share stories and conversation. "It's just off the main dining room, and it gives us more freedom that we can do things and talk about as a group," Charlie says. Family, the daily news, jokes, and current and past experiences are all fodder for discussion. Outside of their dinner conversations, many of the group members are active throughout the Brooksby community, as volunteers in the on-site TV studio and as participants and facilitators of the wildly popular Team Trivia, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. "That's what Brooksby here is known for," Marge says. "If you have a skill or talent and you want to help, opportunities abound."