Archive for June, 2018

Molly Branch Opens Gates to See Fireflies Spectacle in Knoxville, Tennessee, June 16-28

June 6, 2018

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The private preserve of Molly Branch is inviting the public to join what only a few friends and family have experienced over the years:  a spectacular light show created by thousands of fireflies filling the air and blinking in unison which takes place over a two-week period. This year, nature’s display takes place June 16-28.

“Over the years, we have enjoyed this beauty of nature with family and friends,” says property owner Kenneth Bennett. “As I have advanced in age, I have been wanting to share my find with the world. As you can imagine, there have been some reservations about this. My hope is the public will treat these resources with the dignity that they deserve. I am happy to announce that this year, 2018, I will be opening the gate to allow you and your friends to share in this natural delight.”

Spectators can observe a whole forest of fireflies’ blink in unison.

According to, there are over 1800 species of fireflies, also called lightning bugs.  Of all of these species, there are only three that are synchronous.  The most published is the Photinus carolinus found near Elkmont in the Great Smokey National Park.

A second specie of synchronous fireflies is Photinus frontailis also known as Snappy Syncs.  Documented locations for this species are in the Oakridge Wildlife Management Area which unfortunately is restricted from public viewing because of security reasons.

The best-known area for public viewing of Snappys has been Congaree National Park in Hopkins, SC.  No chairs are allowed as the viewing is on a boardwalk over a swamp.

A large population of Snappys has been found on private property in Knox County, TN.  This site has been documented by Lynn Foust the author of “Fireflies, Glow Worms, and Lightning Bugs.”

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150th Running of Belmont Stakes, Featuring Triple Crown Contender Justify, Kicks off With 3-Day Festival

June 5, 2018

The 150th running of the Belmont Stakes in Nassau County features a Triple Crown contender, Justify. The race is the climax of a three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival taking place at Belmont Park from Thursday, June 7 through Saturday, June 9, when there will be 33 races, including 18 stakes, offering $9.4 million in purses © Karen Rubin/

Belmont Stakes Week was kicked off by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran at Belmont Park. She was joined by New York Racing Association (NYRA) CEO Chris Kay, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) President Phillip Eng and Nassau County Industrial Development Chairman Richard Kessel.

“The Belmont Stakes has existed for 150 years and it is one of the largest sporting events in the world,” said County Executive Curran. “Every year, it provides a major economic boost to Nassau County.”

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival taking place at Belmont Park from Thursday, June 7 through Saturday, June 9, has quickly become an exciting way for sports fans to kick off the summer season in New York. The festival includes the very best in thoroughbred racing alongside world-class entertainment and premium hospitality options, said Kay. Attendance is expected to reach 90,000.

And for the first time since 2015, Belmont Park will play host to a Triple Crown contender with Justify looking to achieve racing immortality and a newly-designed award.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran poses with the new Belmont Stakes trophy designed by sculptor Roberto Santo and created by silversmith Ubaldo Vitali.

The spectacular new Triple Crown trophy, designed by sculptor Roberto Santo and created by silversmith Ubaldo Vitali, was unveiled at the press conference. The trophy stands 36 inches high and weighs about 45 pounds.

During the course of the three-day festival, there will be 33 races, including 18 stakes, offering $9.4 million in purses, according to Kay.

Entertainment will be top notch this year. Third Eye Blind will headline the performance lineup for the 2018 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with trackside pre- and post-race concerts on June 9. Belmont Stakes Day will include a performance from the hit Broadway musical A Bronx Tale. On Friday, June 8, fans can enjoy a performance from the acclaimed Billy Joel tribute band Mike DelGuidice and Big Shot at the end of live racing.

The Nassau County Police Department outlined traffic and security issues and the LIRR outlined its operations for the day.

“The security of all spectators at the Belmont Stakes is the main priority of the Nassau County Police Department,” said Commissioner Ryder. “Numerous resources have been assigned and our Intelligence Unit is working with Federal, State and local authorities to ensure a safe environment.  Visitors are reminded to pack food items in clear plastic bags only and that alcohol, coolers, backpacks and duffel bags are prohibited to be brought onto the grounds. Visitors should expect traffic delays, especially after the main race and mass transit is recommended as a form of transportation.”  (Train schedule at

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