OCEAN BAY PARK
By Barbara Gaby Placilla
Fifty years ago, the Beach Boys wrote a song called “All Summer Long” and the lyrics “T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs. We had fun all summer long” epitomize the summer of 2016 in Ocean Bay Park. It’s hard to believe that Labor Day is upon us and that summer will officially end because so far it doesn’t show signs of stopping.
The Lillian Laikind Gourmet Fair is an annual fundraiser that the Ocean Bay Park Association has held the third week in August for the past 40 years. The late Lillian Laikind started it as a “cook a meal/buy a meal” event. Over the years a silent auction, raffles and goods for sale have been added. It’s a day when we all come together as a community to raise the money that goes towards maintaining and improving the quality of life in Ocean Bay Park.
I attended the Gourmet Fair for the first time 30 summers ago when Steve and I were shares in a Flynn house on Seneca Street named “One Flew Over.”
I met Lillian when she came to the house to ask us to donate something. I have no recollection of what we contributed but I do remember that Lillian loved talking with us and never turned down a cocktail. She was a charming woman and I doubt any one ever turned down her request for a donation.
This was my first year as co-chairman of the Fair and I can honestly say I had no idea how much work goes into the event. My co-chair, Cami Meyer, told me “don’t fret; it’s a well-oiled machine that runs itself.” She was correct. Everyone who volunteered to solicit donations of goods and services, cooked, served food & drinks, sold raffle tickets, happily painted the faces of little kids, as well as those came and spent money at the Fair exemplified the spirit of Ocean Bay Park.
The generosity of the merchants who provided us with food and prizes is amazing. OBP’s own “corporate sponsors” Citarella (Joe and Yusi Gurrera), Love and Quiches (Irwin and Susan Axelrod) and The Silver Palate (Peter Harris) along with Wes and Lynn Little of the Seaview Market came through as always. Jim Grashow, Marty Juvelier, Jeff Lewis, Ellie Mal and Gene Raicovich stood in the broiling sun at the grills cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs and ladling out the clam chowder I made.
There are so many people to acknowledge and thank, it would take up the rest of my column. Cami and I have posted a formal thank you on the OBP Association website. However, I will say it again, to one and ALL who participated in any THANKS! I’m looking forward to working with you again next year and keeping the tradition going.
When you think about food, what’s something that you can’t get on Fire Island? The answer is Chinese Food! I still remember when there was a Chinese restaurant in Ocean Beach and how disappointed we were when it closed. It’s not that we can’t go off and bring it back, but it’s never the same. So when we received the invitation to George and Joyce Greenberger’s 50th wedding anniversary party and the invitation said “Please join us for a Chinese Banquet” I knew we were in for a real treat. The party was held at Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street in the heart of Chinatown. Steve volunteered to stay home with our three grandchildren, so Patti Loesch and I did the “planes, trains and automobiles” trek off the island and into the city. It was well worth it. Joyce and George are a wonderful and gracious couple and it was an honor to help them celebrate 50 years together.
Joyce wrote this column in the FI News for many years and George is currently an OBP Fire Commissioner. The party was an eclectic mix of people. Friends and family flew in from out of town and guests came from Fire Island, East Hampton and Manhattan. Pepe, who many of us know from his gigs at the Fire Island Hotel, provided the music and people were up and dancing even after all ten courses had been served. Like, Cinderellas, Patty and I had to dash off in order to make it back in time for the 10:50 ferry to Ocean Beach. So, we grabbed a bottle of Prosecco off the table and a few glasses and toasted Joyce & George’s 50th wedding anniversary in the limo back.
I’m sad to say that this is my last column of the year. Our editor asked us to recap the season and say what we’ll miss as summer comes to an end. For me, this was the summer that Ocean Bay Park seemed to come into its own. We have morphed, like a butterfly, into an eclectic, inclusive family focused community that is aware of and proud of its history. We love to party in this town and welcome everyone, whether you are a home owner, a renter, a visitor or just passing through. Someone mentioned to me that OBP has become the “Brooklyn” of Fire Island and I took that as a compliment. So I’ll miss talking to strangers who are experiencing FI for the first time, seeing and hearing kids wiz by on bikes, scooters and skateboards, all the attractive, young people on the beach, Happy Hours at Flynn’s and Schooner Inn, Bingo for a bike, the smells of summer: sunscreen, bug spray, garden flowers, melting ice cream, just picked tomatoes and the summer sunsets. But most of all, I will miss my friends who don’t have the advantage (actually they’re just not crazy enough) to live here year round. Thank you for reading and don’t put away those t-shirts, cut-offs and pair of thongs just yet!