NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- The snow was falling from the sky like powdered sugar and the roads were icing up, but mere bad weather couldn’t keep dozens of folks from attending a Valentine’s cookie bake-off in North Salem this past Sunday.
The event helped raise more than $2,500 for the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which needs to buy new equipment.
Among the 125 hearty souls who braved the winter storm to enter, judge and taste the baked goodies were Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who came with his 7-year-old daughter, Ashlin; North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas, Westchester Legislator Francis Corcoran, Dick Button, retired Olympic figure skater; and, of course, Cookie Monster.
The event was sponsored by the North Salem Republican Committee, according to organizers Karen Aronian and Susan Lucas.
There were 30 entries in the adult, youth and business categories.
Taking first place in the former North Salem resident and volunteer firefighter, Dan Koch, who used his father’s secret recipe to make a chocolate walnut holiday cookie.
Tied for second place were Corcoran (sugar cookie), Janice Hellwinkel (raspberry jam shortbread heart) and Nanette Chiappetta (pignoli nut cookie).
Jeannine DiBart took home a third-place ribbon with a rosette chocolate ganache cookie.
In the business category, Captain Lipinski of Lewisboro's Volunteer Ambulance Corps took first place with his “hilariously titled and delicious Anaphalactic Peanut Butter Cookie" that everyone wanted to die for!” Aronian said.
Second place went to the Farmer & The Fish, a restaurant in Purdys, which submitted an almond shortbread cookie. Heritage Fuel took third with its "thumb print cookie."
In the youth category, Kaitlyn Thayer, a North Salem high school junior, took first place with a butter cookie.
"It took me all day on Thursday's snow day to make the beautifully decorated Valentine Butter Cookies. My mom is still cleaning up after the mess I made, but I guess it was worth it," Thayer said.
North Salem Girl Scout Troop #2952 placed second with a "Silver Stone" cookie while third place went to Callie Miller (Butler), who made a heart-shaped sugar cookie.
According to NSVAC Capt. Maria Hlushko, the 15-member corps really, really needs a new “stair chair.”
When it purchased its new ambulance a few years ago, it got a deal on a stretcher and a Stryker “stair chair.”
The one that is used with its 7-year-old ambulance is about two decades old, Hlushko said.
The handy device has a patented tread that allows anyone, not just emergency crews, to carry elderly, disabled or ailing patients safely down stairs. The chairs cost between $4,000 and $5,000 smackers.
The corps, while not as busy as the one in nearby Somers, answers about 450 calls a year, Hlushko said.
While it works very closely with the township and fire department, it is not affiliated with either and receives “minimal financial support from tax dollars, according to the NSVAC website.
Only a small portion of its budget comes from other areas, meaning that the large majority of funds comes from insurance billing and donations from community members.
Those funds help buy new life-saving equipment and supplies and are also used to continue education and training for members.
Another fundraiser for the corps has been set for Saturday, March 4, at the North Salem Country Club.
Gift cards that were donated to the cookie bake-off will be sold at a silent auction at the Winter Gala.