Written by Dave Gil de Rubio Friday, 08 June 2012 00:00
Ever since May 1905, the Belmont Stakes has been run at Elmont-based Belmont Racetrack and ever since 1931, it has served as the third leg of the Triple Crown series behind the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The popularity of this prestigious Long Island–based horserace is such that according to The Original Racing Almanac, Belmont ranks fourth in attendance of North American stakes races behind the Derby, Preakness and the Kentucky Oaks. This year’s Belmont has even more meaning given the fact that I’ll Have Another has a shot at becoming the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978. So it’s no wonder that the communities surrounding Belmont have made a point of celebrating this annual affair, oftentimes with a slew of events held the week leading up to the race. One of the more celebrated fetes is the Garden City Belmont Festival, an annual event that’s evolved from a parade into a family-friendly gala held on the eve of the race.
This year promises to have plenty of fun packed into the four hours that it will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday night, June 8. Sponsored by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the Garden City Hotel, the Garden City Belmont Festival will feature an array of dance groups, live music and a “Wing Off” chicken competition, during which time several village restaurants will be vying for the title of Garden City Chicken Wing Champion with proceeds going to Nassau County Firefighter’s Operation Wounded Warrior project. Not surprisingly, a local theme runs throughout whether it’s the participation of eateries like Walk Street Restaurant, J.P. McGeever’s Pub and Rein at the Garden City Hotel or a performance by Garden City’s Broadway Bound Dance Center. There’s even a poster contest featuring the work of village students that’s coordinated by Garden City’s Sunflower Fine Art. This along with the assortment of activities like carnival games, face painting and pony rides reflect the village’s small town ambiance in an area that’s around 40 minutes outside of New York City.