RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A popular ghost story often told in one Long Island town is coming to life.
Ronkonkoma is rich with Native American history, and now one artist hopes his next project will lift a mythical curse from an Indian princess that’s said to haunt the hamlet’s lake.
Todd Arnett has spent most of his free time 32 feet above the ground, taking his chainsaw and carving his latest creation into a tree.
“I have 150 ideas, however as I am carving I carve from the top to the bottom, the tree is going to reveal what is rotted what isn’t,” he tells CBS2.
He’s looking to tell the tale of the Princess of Lake Ronkonkoma, which is older than the tree itself which sits on Virginia Schutte’s property next to her floral shop and across the street from the lake.
She says the tree, which was brought over from Europe in 1820 to celebrate the 200 year mark of pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, died in 2015. She didn’t want to just knock down what she considers a historic landmark.
“I thought it would be nice to have something in the town to bring tourists,” she said.
Now, the tree is helping to turn a story Schutte and most locals are raised on alive.
“Lake Ronkonkoma has its own Indian princess, Princess Tuskawanta,” local historian Ellyn Okvist said.
The Lake Ronkonkoma historian says after the princess’ father forbade her from being with the one she loved, she took her own life on the lake — cursing it for years to come.
“To have this story where every year, a man is drowned because she is lonely and wants to have someone with her,” Okvist said.
The tale’s proven not true. Many years have gone by with no reports of drowning. Arnett says maybe his new creation will even break the so-called curse altogether.
“I want it to be a beautiful sculpture,” he said. “If I had a hope for it, it would be that it would appease the princess spirit, if there is that and there would be no more drownings.”
No more drownings, that is, as the princess’ eyes now watch from above over her water below.