Radio City Rockettes visit Gingerbread University

Rockettes Melinda Farrell (l.) of Brooklyn & Courtney Rottenberder (r.) of Beth Page (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Rockettes Melinda Farrell (l.) of Brooklyn & Courtney Rottenberder (r.) of Bethpage (Credit: All pictures by Monique Singh-Roy)

Two of the world famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes came to Riverhead on Monday to celebrate Christmas a little early and to honor one of Riverhead’s sweetest businesses, Gingerbread University.

Melinda Farrell of Brooklyn and Courtney Rottenberder of Bethpage were there to recognize the kid’s party event destination for its contribution to the community as part of Rockette’s “Make Time For Joy” initiative. The high-kicking dancers have been issuing proclamations to Tri-State businesses and offering free events for their surrounding communities.

“The Radio City Rockettes are here to tell you about our Christmas Show,” Farrell said. “We’re also here to celebrate places and communities that are bringing joy and Gingerbread University is doing that all day, every day.”

Here, the Rockettes pose with five-year old Brielle Butofsky of East Moriches.

Rockettes Linda Farrell and Courtney Rottenberder pose with 5-year old Brielle Butofsky of East Moriches.

To celebrate the special day, Gingerbread University owner Fred Terry Sr. threw a party and invited 50 children from the area to come and decorate their own gingerbread house.

Owner Fred Terry Sr. welcomes the children to Gingerbread University with the help of Rockettes.

Every table was filled with children and their families adorning the sugary houses. Here 10-year old Amelia Vricella of Wading River works on her gingerbread house.

10-year old Amelia Vricella of Wading River decorates her gingerbread house.

Reggie Moore of Riverhead brought his daughters, Rebecca, 4 and Andrea 12, to the party.

“This is great, they should have invited adults to do this,” he joked.

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14-year old Faitra Pittarese of Middle Island showed off her gingerbread house.

14-year old Faitra Pittarese of Middle island shows off her gingerbread house.

Maryann Lamonde from Wading River brought her 10-year-old daughter Carley to decorate a gingerbread house.

“I’m loving this,” she said. “It’s way too early for Christmas, but this is awesome and it will put us in the Christmas spirit.”

10-year old Carley Lamond of Wading River decorates her gingerbread house as mom, Maryann Lamond looks on.

Four-year old Isabella Arp of Riverhead beamed with pride after decorating her gingerbread house.

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At the end of the event, Santa’s helpers (A.K.A. Gingerbread University employees Krista Farrell, 15, of Riverhead and manager Christina Ragone of Mattituck) wrapped up everybody’s gingerbread house to take home.

Santa's helpers and Gingerbread University employees Krista Farrell, of Riverhead, and Manager Christina Ragone, of Mattituck, wrapped up all the gingerbead houses when it was time to go home.

Then the Rockettes presented Terry with a certificate of excellence for Gingerbread University’s contribution to the community.

The Rockettes present owner Fred Terry Sr. with a certificate of excellence for Gingerbread University's contribution to the community.

“We’re here as the ‘Make Time for Joy’ initiative for the Radio City Rockettes,” Rottenberder said. “Gingerbread University is a place that’s doing that and we’re here to celebrate that.”

As a way of saying thank you, Terry announced he will make a $1,000 donation to Smile Train, the international children’s charity that provides free cleft palate repair surgery.

Rockette Courtney Rottenberder (1.), Gingerbread University owner Fred Terry Sr. and Rockette Melinda Farrell (r.)

Rockette Courtney Rottenberder (1.), Gingerbread University owner Fred Terry Sr. and Rockette Melinda Farrell (r.)

Gingerbread University is located at 3225 Sound Avenue in Riverhead. For more information call (631) 727-7309 or visit gingerbreaduniversity.com.

For more information about the Rockettes and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, visit rockettes.com.