June 4, 2012


The ABCs of H2O

21st annual water festival celebrates life-giving liquid


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Zachary Leach, 8, of Cortland investigates the world of aquatic creatures Saturday at the 21st Annual Cortland County Water Festival at the Cortland Water Works.

Staff Reporter

Water was on display once again Saturday at the Cortland Water Works — where water comes from, how to keep it clean, how it serves people and animals that live in it.
Lessons in those topics were mixed with games for children at the 21st Annual Cortland County Water Festival, sponsored by the county Soil and Water Conservation District along with other agencies.
Children flocked through the Water Works off Broadway, parents in tow, as gray skies threatened rain. They raced rubber ducks on a creek, cast a fishing lure toward plastic hoops on the grass, putted with a golf ball, gaped over frogs and turtles, and fired water from a fire hose held by city firefighters.
Adults took part in a taste competition for water from six municipalities.
The Homer Lions Club sold food.
Even toddlers could aim a fire hose at orange cones set up a short distance away, as firefighters showed off their trucks and demonstrated how they spray water at fires.
Madison Singleton of Cortland, age 5, sat in a fire truck’s driver seat and then tried aiming a hose, as her mother, Jennifer Locke, looked on. Fire Capt. Scott Buchanan held the hose for her, then held it for two brothers, Tucker and Barrett Trabucco, who beamed with pride and accepted congratulations from their mother, Patti, and aunt Karen Burns.
The boys’ triplet sister Abigail declined to try it. The three siblings are age 4.
Soon about 15 more children had spotted the stream of water and come over with their parents. Most were boys.
Daniel Caragher, 20 months, used one hand to steer the hose while he held a balloon with the other. His father, Dan, held the hose and quizzed firefighters about the water pressure needed from the hydrant they were using.
His wife, Kari, took pictures while her mother, Barbara Hilsinger, watched.
“We thought we’d do something as a family, and Daniel’s day care center had a flier about this,” Kari Caragher said.
Two terrariums and an aquarium held reptiles and amphibians, caught at Lime Hollow Center for the Environment and Culture in Cortlandville. There were turtles, salamanders and frogs.
Three Lime Hollow workers — Tess Ruswick, Mary Downey and Danielle Zgardzinski — explained the animals’ life cycles, pointing out red efts that would become adult red-spotted newts.
“Imagine when you turn 20, your fingers sprout webs and you go to live the rest of your life in water,” Ruswick, an AmeriCorps volunteer from Ithaca, told children gathered around the display. “That’s what happens with this frog.”
Downey held a 5-inch spotted salamander for children, showing its dark body with yellow spots.
Downey and Zgardzinski, both students at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said they caught the animals, and told the children it can be easy to find amphibians — just turn over a log in the forest.
“Spring is a good time to see these,” Ruswick said. “The first warm rain, frogs and salamanders migrate from where they’ve been hibernating, to the lower ponds to breed.”
The other Water Festival sponsors were the city Water Department and Department of Public Works, county Health Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County.


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