Sandy Survivors at Festival of Lights

L-R: Nancy Notaro, Hurricane Sandy survivor; Carol Ferguson, Notaro’s mother, from Ocean City, New Jersey; Councilman Jay Furfaro, Elizabeth Freeman, Festival of Lights founder and head. Photo by Sue Kanoho

by Anne E. O’Malley

Neck deep in planning and implementing this year’s Festival of Lights — it’s the 16th year — Elizabeth Freeman received a call from Hurricane Sandy survivor Nancy Notaro. She and her mother, Carol Ferguson, were booked on a cruise that would be in port on a Thursday, she’d read about the Festival of Lights and didn’t want to miss it.

Says Freeman, I said I’d open it up just for her.” Of course, Freeman extended the invitation to Notaro’s fellow passengers, as well.

Notaro and Ferguson showed up on the appointed night and got the deluxe, in-depth tour from Freeman.

Freeman learned that Notaro’s house was on higher ground and she rode out the hurricane there. While her home was not deeply affected, adjacent houses had serious damage.

“She got lucky,” says Freeman. “She volunteered at shelters and helped gather food, clothing and other necessities for others.”

About the exhibit, Freeman says, “Nancy was just beaming from ear to ear. She said she had no idea of the extent of the exhibit and that she was really touched that we opened it just for her.”

What was extra sweet, says Freeman, was that Notaro brought special gifts for her — saltwater taffy and candy corn from her home town.

Councilman Jay Furfaro was leaving his office late and the visitors just arriving, so Notaro and Ferguson actually met a representative of county government.

The building is open weekends with Santa and Mrs. Claus in residence, Friday through Sunday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., continuing through Dec. 24.

For more information, visit online at; email; or call 808-639-8564.

Click here to read the heartwarming tale of Josie Chansky’s folk art Christmas decorations, and be sure to visit the historic county building to check out this year’s 9-foot tree, trimmed with easily 130 ornaments themes “If Can, Can” made from recyclable aluminum cans.


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