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Friendship Fair returns to Rockville Centre

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Later this month, the biannual Friendship Fair at the Church of the Ascension in Rockville Centre returns for two full days of festivities. The fair is the church’s largest fundraiser, raising up to $40,000 in past years, and while it always offers eclectic items, attendees can expect an even wider selection of rare finds this year.

Church member and fair volunteer Judy Broadhurst has an extensive collection of Mickey Mouse items that she has decided to donate for the silent auction. A retired elementary school teacher from the Lynbrook school district, where she taught kindergarten for more than 20 years, her love of the Disney character began 45 years ago. Broadhurst first visited Disney World in 1974 and started teaching soon after she returned.

“I needed something to decorate my classroom and I figured I’d use Mickey Mouse,” Broadhurst said.

In those days, there were not as many items available. So, she started by drawing the iconic mouse and putting his image up around the classroom. “It just caught on and before you knew it, I was getting Mickey presents for Christmas and parents would bring things back for me from Disney World,” Broadhurst said.

Her collection now includes an assortment of clocks, puzzles, trays, cups, picture frames, a scale and posters, plus hundreds of little figurines. And they are all in a display case at the church in preparation for the silent auction.

When Broadhurst retired, she had a hard time letting the collection go at first.

“I remembered that it was such joy walking into my classroom,” Broadhurst said. “No matter how down you were, you would walk in and have these happy Mickey faces looking at you. It always made me happy, it made the children happy and I thought, what better place than this church that has brought me so much joy and happiness over the years. This is the perfect place for it.”

Broadhurst has been a part of the church since 1981, when she and her husband were searching for a church to get married at. She said they felt welcomed at the Church of the Ascension, they stayed with it, having their children baptized here and remaining active in the parish.

Frank Seipp has been involved with the church for 50 years, starting the fair 40 years ago. Seipp, 86, is a licensed appraiser and auctioneer, and brings his professional knowledge to the fair for assessing the value of items and setting the prices for the donations.

The church holds the fair every other year and includes baked goods, home-cooked food, jewelry, dolls, antique furniture and tools and an art gallery. There will also be activities for the kids. This year (Phil Weiss) from Antique Road Show will be doing appraisals.

“A lot of work goes into it, which is why we only do it every other year,” Broadhurst said.

The fair will be held at the Church of the Ascension at 71 N. Village Ave. in Rockville Centre, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19.

“What’s so wonderful is that it brings not only the parish together, but it’s such a community draw,” Broadhurst said. “People get really excited about it.