The spirit of Ludwig lives on in New Paltz

Friends and family gathered in Hasbrouck Park in New Paltz last Saturday afternoon in honor of the late Ludwig Montesa. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Four years after his untimely passing at just age 34, Ludwig Montesa is still remembered fondly by his friends, which seem to include everyone who lived in New Paltz during his lifetime. “He just unconditionally loved everyone, no matter who they were,” says Amanda Sisenstein. “He was always really positive. He just wanted everyone to be happy, and no matter how bad a mood you might be in, he would make you feel better.” In fact, she adds, Ludwig was such a welcoming and loving person that he inspired other people to be on their best behavior around him. “He just had this presence,” she says, “and there was something simply good that radiated from him.”

The onetime “unofficial ambassador” of New Paltz, as Montesa was called — and how many people had a Facebook fan page dedicated to them? — was officially remembered by those who loved him last Saturday, May 27 in the fifth annual Ludwig Day, billed as “a celebration of love, community and being fabulous.” The idea of having a celebration each year, explained Sisenstein, is just about bringing everyone together in unity to carry on Ludwig’s good energy and sense of community and compassion for everyone.

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Sisenstein helped organize a “Wig-out” at Hasbrouck Park that lasted all afternoon, with live music by Shamsi, NCM acoustic, Nick Collins and Shabbat. There were kids’ activities and lawn games, and a potluck dinner was open to all afterward.

Festivities moved into the village at night, with live bands at Snug Harbor, Oasis Café and Bacchus. Snug Harbor held the annual Bloodwig Fest — a Ludwig-themed punk/metalfest — and Oasis Café offered a Ludwig-style karaoke party with open mic, briefly interrupted by a “New York, New York” sing along and kickline at 8 p.m., to honor Montesa’s well known passion for doing karaoke of show tunes and torch songs.

This year’s Ludwig Day was dedicated to the memory of New Paltz’s Michael Hale Mironchik, who passed away in March at age 38. His friends say that, like Ludwig, Mike was a kind soul and a friend to all he met.

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