Written by Dr. Cynthia Paulis Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
It may have been a polar vortex outside, but inside Farmingdale’s Village hall things were heating up with the first annual Winter wonderland. Close to 800 people filled the village hall over two hours on a frigid Wednesday evening to eat, laugh, and mingle with Main
Street’s finest, the business owners. While K 98.3 played music outside, inside the wonderful aromas of a variety of hot food from the local restaurants filled the air. There were rice balls, and chicken picatta, pastas and meat balls supplied by Cascarino’s and Palmer’s
Grill, along with Shepard’s pie, hot wings from Croxley’s Ale House. The guacamole from Caracara Mexican Grill was so fresh and delicious it would make a Texan jealous. There were 37 business represented all giving away free samples, food, and discounts to a packed crowd ranging in age from infants to seniors.
A year ago if you walked down Main Street it would have seemed like a ghost town since there were 22 empty storefronts. Now, with the revitalization program to restore Main Street, it is thriving with new businesses. Today there are only two empty stores.
The wonderland event was the brainchild of Marketing Masters NY which is owned by JoAnn and David Saul, the public relations firm hired by the village.
According to JoAnn Saul, “We wanted to get something to unite the residents, the merchants and the town, so we thought, why not have something in village hall. The theme was winter wonderland because things are kind of slow so we figured we can get people out and meet the merchants.” Looking around the packed room, David added, “We were hoping for 10 people at least, this is amazing. This was our first one so next year either we raise the roof or get a big tent.”
When asked about the reaction of the merchants when he approached them, David commented, “Their first reaction was that’s great, but can you get people there?” Looking around the packed room he smiled, “They’re here.” He acknowledges and gives credit to the turnaround in the town to the mayor and trustees. “ I think our current mayor and board of trustees are 100 percent committed to making everything a success. I have never seen a more dedicated group of people. I have been resident of Farmingdale for 26 years and it has had its ups and downs but I have never seen it on such an upward swing as it is right now, just look around.”
Mayor Ralph Ekstrand beamed as he looked around the packed village hall. “The whole idea of this event, and it is working perfectly, is to get people out of their houses during the cold winter months and to interact with the merchants and vendors on main, and get rid of cabin fever. I can’t believe how festive this is. You look around and this is the first time we have done this and it is a success.”
“The Farmingdale chamber of commerce is doing a tremendous job promoting and advocating for those businesses in our community and those businesses are clearly on display here,” said Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto, who also attended the
Winterwonderland festivities. “Luckily we are indoors as it is quite frosty outside but the feeling is very warm here with many residents from the community coming out and sampling all of the wares, we are having a great time.”
Brian Harty, the village administrator was very pleased with the event. “I think this is just great. Bringing the community together is a wonderful thing. Businesses need a little boost in these cold months and this is what the village is trying to do. We have had a recent surge in businesses and I think this is extraordinary. Businesses are anticipating really good things in the village, we are really on the upswing and I think we are going to become a destination point for Farmingdale in both Nassau and Suffolk county.”
The villagers were treated to food of every kind, all donated. There were also free raffles given out for beautiful gift baskets all donated by the merchants. Even the dogs got into the act. Jodi Ekberg and her husband showed up with their three beautiful Siberian Huskies Frankie, Tsar and Cain who mingled with the guests.
There was such a happy vibe in village hall between the merchants and the villagers who all enjoyed the music, the food, the samples and the winter decorations. The only thing that was missing was the snow. But hey, that’s coming this week. Farmingdale has set the bar high for other communities to take notice that with innovative ideas, cooperation and dedicated people great things can happen for a community.