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Oyster Festival Funds Rotary Rides! Project

This year’s Oyster Festival kickoff was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24 – again at the flagpole in Theodore Roosevelt Park. This year, Cindy Smith, president of ImageQuest Communications, promoter of the festival, and Rotary President Jim Fuccio announced Rotary will use the festival to fund their new program Rotary Rides!

Rotary Rides! is a program that will supplement the needs of handicapped seniors from this community that were affected by the discontinued MTA Able Rides program. They were the most affected by the elimination of needed transportation in this north shore community without public transportation.

Rotary provided funding to start the program offering 150 hours of bus service to the handicapped to provide transportation to get the medical attention they need. This program is supported by Harbor House, the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center, and Hendrickson Bus and funded by the Oyster Bay Charitable Foundation.

Rotary is picking up the ball to help the disabled population including war veterans and the aging population that needs transportation to continue being part of the community. They are people who are perfectly capable of having a “real life” but need a little help – from their friends in the community.

Ms. Smith said, “I am most impressed that Rotary figured it all out including how to fund and manage it. The Hendrickson Bus company told us it works out well for them. The drivers are already out and having them do some good for the community is great. Gail Speranza, Doubleday Babcock Senior Center executive director and Paul Rosen, director of operations for Oyster Bay Manor and Harbor House and co-chair of the Oyster Festival talked to the bus company about the program. It’s a great local story.”

Ms. Speranza spoke about the program at the kickoff press conference telling how the program began. It is still in the formation process, although she said, “Currently they are transporting people to dialysis appointments and people are calling about medical appointments and we will be branching out to that.” A press release just went out giving the permanent phone number for the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund’s Rotary Rides! The number is 922-2650.

“Disabled community members needing a ride to a medical appointment, procedure or the like are encouraged to call the number to request an application for service. Once approved, transportation will be arranged with the Hendrickson Bus Corporation who is providing specialized vehicles for a fraction of the cost to the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund,” it said.

Ms. Speranza said, “I volunteered that the phone be here since we already handle medical transportation for seniors. Ours is just for seniors. I modeled the application after the one used by the MTA’s Able Ride. Currently DBSC has its own medical transportation service for seniors – we can take them with canes and walkers [but not wheel chairs or scooters] but they must be seniors. The Rotary Rides! are for the disabled, regardless of age and disability. They must be certified by their physicians, just as for AbleRides.”

Ms. Speranza said of she and her Rotary group, “We have the calling for it. This service really gives people hope again, but we need money. The original seed money from the Oyster Bay Charitable Foundation of $5,000 won’t last long. We need donations.”

“I’m a Rotarian. That’s why we are all involved in this,” she said of the idea the Rotarians initiated. The Rotary motto is “Service before self.”

Donations are needed to help continue this invaluable service. Your tax-deductible gift to the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund, a 501(c)3 organization, will enable a handicapped individual to regain their independence. If you would like to make a donation, you can mail it to the: Oyster Bay Charitable Fund, P.O. Box 132, Oyster Bay, NY 11771. Please be sure to enter “Rotary Rides” in the memo line.

Come to the Oyster Festival

Another way you can help Rotary Rides! is to come to the Oyster Festival.

 The Rotary Club’s main source of fund raising is the Oyster Festival, where the Rotary makes money from selling raffle tickets, carnival tickets, oysters, and corporate sponsorships. The proceeds the club receives are directed toward the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund. The Charitable Fund is not used toward the Club’s operating expenses, but is used to help those in need through four committees: Community Service, Vocational Service, Club Service, and International Service.

FYI: The Oyster Festival is an annual two-day celebration – this year on Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17, of the community’s most precious asset – the oyster. Each year for more than two decades approximately 150,000 Long Islanders and visitors from throughout the tri-state area make the pilgrimage to the beautiful and historic village of Oyster Bay, New York for family fun, food and festivities under the auspices of the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund.

This year’s Oyster Festival celebrates its 27th Anniversary, and will host a variety of terrific culinary, entertainment and shopping features, including an interactive pirate treasure hunt. Proceeds from the event benefit approximately 30 of the areas non-profit organizations.

Shipping News

There is always something special about each Oyster Festival. This year there will be a visit from the barkentine Gazela which is no stranger to Oyster Bay - she been here before.

The barkentine, Gazela Primeiro, was built in the shipyard of J. M. Mendes in Setubal, Portugal. Her records, as she now stands, date from 1902.

Gazela was built to carry fishermen to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Every spring she would leave Lisbon, laden with as many as 35 dories stacked on deck like drinking cups, a crew of 40 men (35 fishermen/sailors, two cooks, two mates and the captain), and a couple of apprentices. Her cargo hold would be full of salt as ballast. The salt would be used for the cod fish that were caught, preserving them for the long trip home.

After a remarkably long commercial career, Gazela‘s last voyage to the Banks as a commercial fishing ship was made in 1969. About the time Gazela was laid-up after her final voyage to the Banks, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum was searching for an historic sailing vessel. Word reached Gazela‘s owners and the following year, she was purchased for the museum by philanthropist William Wikoff Smith. On May 24, 1971, with a crew of Americans (including one former Gazela engineer), the ship left for its new home in Philadelphia, tracing Columbus’ route via the Canary Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico and on Thursday, July 8, made her first entrance into Philadelphia.

In 1985, Gazela was transferred to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, the not-for-profit corporation that now maintains and operates the vessel with the help of donors and volunteers, sending her as Philadelphia’s Tall Ship to events up and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

And There’s More...

This year – with a bow to the emerging arts scene in the Oyster Bay hamlet – there will be inaugural activities dedicated to them.

This year there will be 150 artisans from 32 states taking part in the alcohol-free family fun event.

This year there will be racing held under the auspices of the Oyster Bay Marine Center. The racing is close and exciting. Races are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Start times vary, depending on wind conditions.

This year there will be more information on the festival as we approach the major fundraiser for the Oyster Bay community. Volunteers are always needed to help the festival run smoothly. If you are not already volunteering with an organization, call 628-1625 the festival hot line; if you want to be a sponsor, call Len Rothberg at 935-4944.