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Aquefest Feels 'Like Family'

HASTINGS, N.Y. — After beginning in Yonkers, Sleepy Hollow and Ossining on Saturday, Aquefest continued its second day of celebrating the Old Croton Aqueduct in Irvington, Hastings and Dobbs Ferry on Sunday.

Those who attended the festival said they found it to be a folksy, family-like atmosphere. Many people took advantage of the clear weather on Sunday to experience the surrounding nature, and various food and music stops that were set up along the aqueduct trail.

At 11 a.m. on Hasting’s Edgars Lane, Andy and Stephanie Tuckett had just arrived from a 14-mile bicycle ride with their kids Hannah, 7, and Will, 5.

“We live in Irvington, so we bike the trail quite a lot,” Stephanie Tuckett said, adding that the family found out about the festival for the first time this year.

Organized by the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, a nonprofit organization that counts 500 members, Aquefest is now in its seventh year.

“We missed it altogether,” said Stephanie, just after Hannah -- wearing a harness attached to a rope -- came down from a 25-feet-high tree climb.

Just a few steps from there, Anne-Marie McIntyre was teaching kids how to paint with walnut black ink, a material found along the Old Croton Aqueduct trail.

“This year, we will try to make them draw birds and plants,” said McIntyre, an arts teacher who has a studio in Dobbs Ferry.

Three-year-old Aliya Meyers’s drawing looked neither like a bird nor a plant. What is it? She wouldn’t tell.

“She is a typical artist. She is not going to tell you,” said her grandmother Karin Meyers.

But Aliya did say something.

“I am done.”

At that time, a crowd already gathered to listen to Daniel Elias play Klezmer on his clarinet.

“It’s the music of East European Jews,” Elias said.

Not very far from there, on Irvington’s Dows Lane, people also listened to music – Irish this time – as a homage to the immigrants who built the aqueduct.

Jamie Gehman, of Irvington, danced with her daughters Nina, 6, and Mimi, 3, to the sound of the Fair Haired Tinkers’ violin and accordion.

Like Aliya, Nina didn’t want to talk.

“She is a bit shy,” Gehman said, though Nina didn’t seem to have a problem dancing with her mom.

In what was perhaps the biggest event of the Aquefest, Grammy Award winner Tom Chapin, brother of the late folk singer and humanitarian Harry Chapin, played at Dobbs Ferry for more than 200 people.

Despite Chapin’s fame, the feeling of community was still present, with people leisurely sitting on the grass at the old aqueduct keeper’s house, bicycles set down all around. Standing on the portico with his guitar, Chapin, at intervals, talked about old times and old songs.

“We are family and we are tree. Our roots go deep down in history,” his song went, while the audience waved hands and arms.

“We are family,” Chapin sang at his last accord. “Yes, we are.”

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