ONONDAGA COUNTY. N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Ladybug’s Garden was an ambitious project that started in the original Channel 9 studios at Shoppingtown in DeWitt. Well, it actually started in the imagination of Ladybug herself, host and producer Cathy Stampalia. She created it in the early 1970s as part of a Master’s thesis at SU, and it grew into a nationally-syndicated children’s program.
The first year was produced at Channel 9, the second at the WCNY studios.
Cathy Stampalia Hawkins came to Syracuse as the Romper Room teacher at Channel 9. Teaching was her life. She spent 25 years as chair of the TV/Radio Department at Onondaga Community College.
When she retired, she was the longest-tenured department chair in the SUNY system, and she’s credited with creating a Radio/Television Department that has produced broadcast professionals working at all levels across the country, including her latest successor as department chair.
“I think one of the things I liked about her was the wisdom that she gave you that necessarily wasn’t about radio and TV, but about you as a person and life in general,” Mike Kaminski said.
Some of the set pieces from Ladybug’s Garden have been stored at OCC for nearly 50 years. Now, they are making their way into history. They’ve been donated to the Onondaga Historical Association, to join other memories from our childhood in front of the TV.
“When people come into this room in particular, they are sort of overcome with emotions. They’re immediately back to being an eight-year-old kid watching the black-and-white or watching the color TV. To watch that reaction, it makes it all worthwhile,” Bob Searing said.
Plans call for Ladybug’s gate and tree stump to be used in a new interactive Children’s Corner at OHA, where kids of today can interact with the history of the community, including some treasured memories we all shared on TV.
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