While attending the Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies at the town dock on Saturday, June 16, Town Councilman Fred Pollack announced that the town beach at Manorhaven would soon be opened this season. Councilman Pollack, a strong advocate for high water quality, was pleased to announce that after three consecutive years of positive tests, the waters of Manhasset Bay and the town beach at Manorhaven are safe for swimming. A boom device was delivered and set in place to delineate the bathing area. Lifeguards are available and the actual opening day should be announced shortly.
The ceremony, which is sponsored by the Manhasset Bay Sportsmen's Club of Port Washington, began with a trumpet rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Jeff Byrne, director of the Schreiber High School Band. During the playing of taps, 12-year-old Elizabeth Lata cast flower petals on the bay. President Don Murphy assisted her in casting the ceremonial wreath upon the waters. The prayers and blessings were led by a host of chaplains including Chaplain Allan Ramirez of the Nassau County Police Department and Rev. Kurt Von Roeschlaub of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.
Their new chaplain, Jeff Morris, who was appointed chaplain in March of this year, represented the Port Washington Fire Department. Chaplain Morris is also the commander of the Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, where he has been a member since 1981. Chaplain Morris has spent a great deal of time in his first few months visiting members of his department in various hospitals and recently consoled the family of a deceased member of the Port Washington Fire Department with 60 years of service, Arthur 'Sassy' Poole. A longtime resident of Port Washington, Chaplain Morris is also a superior officer in the Port Washington Police Department.
Don Murphy, who is serving his first year as president of the Sportsmen's Club, supervised the fleet blessing. Murphy was assisted by Past President Bob Dickson, who estimated that since the fleet blessing began in 1945, thousands of vessels have passed in review. When asked about the impact of high gas prices on boating, Dickson said he sees more examples of boat pooling to save gas. Past President Ray Heffernan, a 24-year member of the Sportsmen's Club, was also on hand to lend assistance. Fleet Captain Peter Hults of the Sportsmen's Club continued a tradition of leading the procession for over three decades on the Scuba Luba, a 24-foot Aquasport powerboat. Club officials reported over 75 boats passed in review.
In attendance was Carolyn Weber, a first-year trustee of the Village of Manorhaven. Weber spoke openly with Councilman Pollack on their mutual interests in the waterfront and the preservation of Port's waterfront heritage. Councilman Pollack has always expressed strong support for water-related activities in Manhasset Bay and has attended the fleet blessing since his first year as councilman, which began over a decade ago. Pollack is well versed on issues affecting Manhasset Bay and is presently studying an application to reopen the defunct former White's Marina in Manorhaven.
Former Councilman Wayne Wink, now a Nassau County legislator, expressed satisfaction in once more representing Port residents. He has taken a keen interest in waterfront concerns including those of bond issues, which could have an environmental impact on the bay. The recently installed Town Clerk Leslie Groves attended the fleet blessing ceremonies for the first time. Ms. Gross said she was proud to be a part of the celebration, enjoys the waterfront and had high praise for one of Port's more unique water activities, the water taxi.
The Sportsmen's Club was founded in 1945 to promote conservation in Manhasset Bay. Its membership consists of about 300 men and women of Port who operate approximately 30 vessels from their base in Manorhaven. Over the years, the club has extended many other benefits to the community including lending assistance to the handicapped, Little League and Cancer Care. A reception was held after the ceremonies at the Sportsmen's Club in Manorhaven.