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Veterans Cancel Pearl Harbor Event

This year, Oyster Bay will not hold its traditional Pearl Harbor Day commemoration held annually on Dec. 7, at the waterfront at Theodore Roosevelt Park. American Legion Commander Reginald Butt, Jr. explained the reasons saying, “Last year there was a total of 42 veterans attending and 25 of them were from the Bayville Post and there was a 125-piece band from the Plainview Old Bethpage School District. Last year, the band outnumbered the veterans and with the problems the Bayville American Legion is facing, they might not attend this year.”


Actually, the Bayville Legion called Reggie to see if Oyster Bay was going to do the Pearl Harbor event. Even if they had it, Bayville wasn’t going to send the same number of people, said Reggie.     


The legion’s problem in Bayville revolves around the financial difficulties the Robert H. Spittel American Legion Post 1285 has been having since their caterer at The WaterView didn’t pay his rent and finally left to open a new facility. The legion built the building and uses the downstairs for themselves and needs that rental money to pay their bills. Recently they have been trying to convince the Bayville Board of Zoning Appeals to give them a variance to hold outside weddings. Post Commander Vincent Libertini said they were having trouble getting permission for holding outside weddings, which he said, today, everyone wants. He said they plan to allow nothing noisier than harp music for the weddings. At the time he was seated outside the Food Basket, IGA, at the Northwinds Shopping Center selling raffle tickets for a discount on home heating oil as well as publicizing their fundraiser, a Veterans Day Dinner Dance on Nov. 16 from 7 to 11 p.m. at 45 Bayville Avenue. 


Reggie said last week they went to court but the ZBA gave no decision. It was put off. “But the Dinner Dance is sold-out, they sold 200 and something tickets. A lot of people in Bayville are supporting them,” he said.


New Veterans Venues


Butt said today the Pearl Harbor ceremonies are being held indoors such as at the Air Power Museum and at the Armory in Freeport.


He said the Oyster Bay event used to have 200 people attending, not just 50. “The POB band has been coming here for 23 years. They came because the president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was their school custodian. He died before just before Pearl Harbor Day and they have been coming every year since. I just had to call the POB band director and let him know we weren’t going to do it this year.”


Heavy Workload


Reggie said, “We used to go back to the post for cake and coffee afterwards. The event was expensive and not well attended. And, today, I’m doing most of the work. 


“We worked at the Oyster Festival. There were nine of us: the youngest is 72 and the oldest, 90. We’re killing ourselves working at the event. After those two days, I had to rest four days to recover.”


The Veterans of Foreign Wars Oyster Bay Memorial Post #8033 were selling fried calamari at Booth 35, and the American Legion Quentin Roosevelt Post No. 4 was next door at Booth 36 selling soft shell crabs, clam strips, and fried

shrimp. “We sold out. We’ll do it until we can’t stand up any more. This year we had more help from our vendor. They put in a stove. All we did was pass out the food and collect the money. His men did all the cooking for us.


“The money from that fundraiser goes to different needs. We support the Northport Veteran’s Hospital and different programs supporting veterans. It also helps pay for the lights and the utilities.” 


Reggie said he is looking for younger veterans to come and join the legion. “They are busy raising their own families, but they can contact me at 922-7135 if they are interested in joining.


“We got two new members last year but we lost 13. Each year we lose 10 to 12 and only get two or three to make up the numbers, so it is hard,” he said.


On Monday, Nov. 11 the veterans will be commemorating Veterans Day with a ceremony in front of Town Hall East starting at 11 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.