Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 02 September 2011 00:00
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said he and NYS Senator Carl Marcellino had never been upstaged before by a coatimundi. It happened at the Oyster Festival kickoff Thursday, Aug. 25. Festival promoters Harlan Friedman and Kerry Gillick-Goldberg raised the bar this year as they opened the meeting with American Idol singer Jerome Bell belting out The Star Spangled Banner; the Kings of the Coast pirates streaming through and telling Coast Guard Commander Joe Orlich, “You’ll never catch us!”; as members of the Island Xtreme All Stars Cheerleading Team flew in the air; and a sweet tame coatimundi enchanted the animal lovers in the audience.
The coatimundi will be in the Petting Zoo brought to the festival by the R.W. Cummerford Zoo. Rotarian Judith Wasilchuk, who was a 4-H leader, made friends with the member of the raccoon family that comes from South America. He is very tame, was bottle fed, and brought up in Pennsylvania, and is de-clawed, said Jerry Deziel, his handler.
It was a great kickoff to what everyone knows is a “Great Family Festival.”
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said of the Oyster Festival, “It is our signature event.” He praised the work of the committee that does an immeasurable job in organizing the annual event. He said the organizers and the sponsors are the key to the success of the event and he thanked them all for their great work. “The event is so central to putting a face on the town. Every year it goes well and shows that Oyster Bay is a wonderful place to live and raise a family!”
NYS Senator Carl Marcellino said it gets better and bigger each year. He said, “The glitches get fixed and things get changed. Everywhere I go in the state people ask me about that town where the Oyster Festival takes place. It is all thanks to my fellow Rotarians and member of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce.” The senator urged people to buy a raffle ticket saying, “The money stays in the community and helps create a fund to fulfill needs. And the raffle prizes are fantastic,” he added. The winner gets to pick either a 3-year lease on a 2012 Audi A4 or $15,000 cash. The supervisor and the senator are co-hosts of the festival.
“See you at the Oyster Festival,” said the senator.
Mr. Venditto said traditionally, the night before the kickoff, he and the senator see which one will get the chance to buy the first raffle ticket. The two are the honorary co-chairs of the festival. “We had a tie this year,” said the supervisor. Rotary President Chris Gallagher sold them tickets #1 and #2, as they held up their $20 bills for a photo op. Only 3,000 tickets will be sold at $20 each or six for $100.
Mr. Gallagher looked out the window at the Community Center where it was raining, and said, “I’m praying that Mother Nature gets it all out and done and we don’t have a washout like we did two years ago.” [That Saturday the storm closed the festival but Sunday proved to be a great day.] Mr. Gallagher read off the list of all the not-for profits that benefit from the Oyster Festival Food Court sales. One of the first mentioned was the St. Dominic Memorial Tom Reardon Internet Club, the young people’s Rotary, in honor of “Oyster” Reardon and his commitment to the Oyster Festival for 27 years. His daughter-in-law, Kristin Reardon, is the co-chair of the festival along with Paul Rosen, once again.
Mr. Gallagher said, “All the organizations that participate collect revenue to disburse all during the year. It’s a wonderful thing they have been doing for 28 years, and hopefully another 128 years.”
Len Rothberg, event coordinator, said he was going to talk about the lighter side of the festival. “I really like to welcome people to the largest totally family friendly event on the northeast coast. We have a new layout, which will make the flow in the Theodore Roosevelt Park easier. We have a new food court area. The 9/11 fireboat, The J.J. Harvey, built in 1931, is coming to town. It is one of the most powerful boats. It was decommissioned in 1994 and is now privately owned. It sprayed water onto the World Trade Towers site after the attack. It is powerful enough to spray water over the George Washington Bridge.”
“The tall ship the Lynx, America’s rivateer, a 122-foot ship, will be docked at the WaterFront Pier.
“Our food people are back, as is Frank M. Flower & Sons. Dave Relyea would have been here but he is out in the bay planting seedlings before the hurricane comes here.” Mr. Relyea sent Mike... to shuck fresh-from-the-bay oysters for the event. Chris Ivers of Whole Foods had a buffet table set with snack food and Illy issimo cappuccino and caffés for the crowd.
Mr. Rothberg said, “Chris Ivers is back and will run the Best of the Food Court Contest again. There are new animals including the friendliest coatimundi. Local singer Charlie Dane will be appearing. There will be the annual Oyster Eating and Shucking Contest. There are 150 arts and crafts people under two and a half tents. This year there is new Oyster Festival merchandise, T-shirts, chains, and prints. Things to buy for holiday gift giving.”
He introduced Jeff Clark, Cablevision coordinator of governmental affairs who said he and the company were happy to be back for the second year as the title sponsor of the Oyster Festival.
Joe Orlich, Flotilla Commander U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in Oyster Bay, said they will be repeating their Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstration that is now available on YouTube by calling up on the Internet, Flotilla 2205. The SAR demonstration will be Saturday or Sunday based on when the team can arrange to come. He said there will be the Coast Guard Auxiliary Band playing on Saturday and the remote-controlled tugboat, Coastie will be there to amaze children both days.
Hold on to your hats – the Oyster Festival countdown has begun!