Written by Chris Boyle, Editorial@antonnews.com Thursday, 30 May 2013 00:00
Coming off the first annual Massapequa Chamber of Commerce Street Fair, Chamber President Patricia Orzano said that strong community support for the new fundraising event, combining food, fun, and excitement for families, has ensured it will become an annual tradition.
“I would say it was a spectacular success,” she said. “We were blessed with great weather; we had terrific local businesses as sponsors...we probably a one point, during our peak hours, had about 5,000 to 7,000 people attend.”
The Massapequa Chamber of Commerce, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, is an organization whose goal is to help local businesses grow, prosper, and develop, as well as get involved with the community in general with events such as food and toy drives. “Any group that provides services to the community, we’re an active player,” Orzano said.
As a way of raising funds and giving back to a community that supports its local businesses, the Chamber has held an annual three-day Family Festival for the past 16 years. However, with changing times, Orzano said that the Chamber felt the event had grown stale.
“Every year we held our festival in the Massapequa train station parking lot. We would have rides, games, and food for the community,” she said. “However, it had become redundant, it wasn’t really growing, and we had been given restrictive dates from the Town of Oyster Bay because of parking issues. We were finding it more and more difficult to do something new there.”
About a year ago, the Chamber decided to try a street fair instead. Approaching Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto with the idea, they found him very receptive to it, and as a result, on May 4 and 5, the Chamber held the event on Broadway from Veteran’s Blvd. to Clarke Blvd.
“We had about 40 street vendors, 10 food vendors, and children’s rides,” she said. “We also had magic acts, face painting, live music, a community talent show, a karate school demonstration, a petting zoo, pony rides, and many other events involving the community.”
The response of the Massapequa community was overwhelming, said Orzano.
This year’s fair was spread out over two days as a general “feeling-out” affair to gauge community and vendor response. Due to the overwhelming support, Orzano said that the Chamber already has more expansive plans on the drawing board for 2014.
“Next year it will be a one-day event,” she said. “It will be on a Sunday, as that’s typically a family day. We’ll have more vendors, more food, more children’s entertainment, and more blow-up rides. I think the community was really, really happy with this year’s event, and with our success this year, the word is out.”
The funds raised by the Street Fair will go to the Chamber’s efforts to promote Massapequa businesses. Given the nation’s current economic woes, it appears that the Chamber will have its work cut out for them.
Local merchants have been hit hard as families tighten their purse strings in the face of economic uncertainty. Orzano said it’s difficult to gauge how much, if at all, Massapequa merchants are bouncing back in 2013.
“Some businesses are still suffering the effects and ramifications of Hurricane Sandy, so they’re not growing as well. Retail and restaurants have been hurt very much,” she said. “However, home improvement, cleaning services, construction...those companies have been growing. Car dealerships also did very well in the fall, since a lot of people, like myself, lost their car to flooding waters.”
Among new businesses Orzano cited as opening in Massapequa in the near future are a Dairy Queen and an art gallery. In addition, she mentioned the return of a well-known older business long thought closed for good. “The Nautilus Diner on Merrick Road, which had been around for over 40 years, is going to be rebuilt and reopened,” she said. “It closed about two years ago, and some members of the original family purchased it and plan to reopen it.”
Other plans include a possible new bank in the area, as well as ongoing attempts to reopen popular bar Katie Daly’s, and overall business revitalization efforts in East Massapequa.