By Rebecca Hoey
Saturday, June 8, 1683 was the Living History of Islip Town Day at Islip Grange Park in Sayville. No, you didn’t just read a typo in the date because it really did feel like we were back 335 years ago, reminiscent of the actual birth-year of the town in 1683.
In continuum for the year-long celebration for Islip’s big birthday bash, this bright and sunny day was the perfect backdrop for the re-creation of the town’s valuable history. It was filled with soldiers, antique fire engines, a replicated WWI plane, games that were representative of what children played years ago, and more.
A staple in the reenactments was Co K. 67th NY Historical Association, who offered us a part in the Civil War. You could feel the tension the actors dealt with planning their next move in the tent as you stood near.
From the other side of the battlefront, members of The Society of the Grand Army of the Republic were dressed in their redcoats marching proudly around. The British side of the battle was represented well here.
The more we saw as we walked around, the more we felt a part of the era and the battles that took place. Of course the appreciation for all that has been done and sacrificed for us, grew as well.
My daughter and I were also really excited to see our friend from the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps/Lt. Michael Murphy Division at the event. We made sure to get a shot of this dedicated and honorable young group.
The special airplane that we were lucky enough to get a shot of is a ⅞ of a scale replica of an actual WWI fighter, presented courtesy of Bob Mott, president of the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York. Such objects are from a bit further down the Islip history timeline of course, but seriously, who doesn’t want to check out one of these?
Upon speaking with Historian Tom Rinelli, we learned that the fire engine at the event, humbly named “Honey Bee,” was built in 1856, and purchased by Patchogue Fire Company Engine Company 1 in 1880 for $300. It has since remained there, where it was eventually combined with a 1960 Mack by fire department members. “We greatly appreciate that the Patchogue Fire Department brought this special truck here today,” Rinelli said. The other fire truck we were lucky enough to be able to view has been with the West Sayville Fire Department since 1891. Rinelli shared the fact that it was actually the department’s first ladder truck, and was hand-drawn. It was previously on view at the Islip Town Fire & EMS Museum and Education Center. But it is now back home at the West Sayville Fire Department.
The stunning antique water-pumper we viewed has been here since 1891. Incredibly, it can still be pumped by hand. If you missed this masterpiece of fire equipment, you can view it at the Islip Town Fire & EMS Museum and Education Center.
We also were happy to see that this event was combined with the Sayville Farmer’s Market, as it allowed us the chance to check out the fresh farm produce, delicious baked goods, and much more. This also allowed us to visit an extra special little guest.
Attendees were able to visit with a newborn lamb. Rejected by her mom, this baby was attached to Chris Van De Wetering of Goodale Farms. “This is nothing unusual, and now I get to bottle feed her and take her wherever I go,” said Van De Wetering. You too can visit with this baby weekly throughout the summer at the Farmer’s Market to watch her grow.
Most of the folks who worked so diligently to create this special day agreed that despite the low turnout, which some think was possibly low publicity, or it being the first year of the event, felt that it was a good day for an incredibly special town.
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