By Barbara Placilla
The summer season officially begins on Fire Island with the arrival of Memorial Day, when the first issue of the Fire Island News hits the stands. For all of the long-timers, it’s great to see you again, and to all the first-timers, welcome to the Park and the summer of 17!
I always find this first column of the year the hardest to write. How do you condense what happens in Ocean Bay Park between Labor Day and Memorial Day into 1,000 words or less? Does anyone really have an interest in what goes on after the summer? Does summer ever really end on Fire Island? Summer morphs into the “off-season” and homeowners and renters continue to enjoy life in Ocean Bay Park up until and even after Thanksgiving. When they leave, there is a small contingent of us (the ones who don’t fly south) who settle in and keep things going until you all come back for more fun and sun and the cycle repeats itself.
We kept the season going with the annual fishing tournament, which was a damp and drizzly day but still a lot of fun. You never really need an excuse to sit on the beach with good friends in the rain drinking champagne while your husbands try to catch fish, do you? Then we continued the tradition of the Association Halloween Party. Each year it seems there is a new bunch of kids to keep Steven Jaffe busy as he takes them door-to-door for trick-or-treat. And each year the potluck dinner gets bigger and better.
Winter passed rather quickly and was kinder to us this year than others, although there were a few curve balls in the form of several snow storms and some coastal flooding. The beach held up despite a few nor’easters and we did not lose a lot of sand; it’s long and wide and we are poised for a great summer. The sad thing is that Ocean Bay Park will lose its beachfront houses to the FIMI project. During the winter four houses were relocated to available lots behind Traffic Avenue. The remaining houses will be taken down sometime after Labor Day when the Army Corps of Engineers completes the last phase of the beach replenishment project. Next summer Ocean Bay Park will have an entirely different look, but just as the beach morphs with each season, so do we.
Living on Fire Island, I am constantly reminded that we are fortunate inhabitants of a National Park and that we are not alone. This past winter, in addition to the usual deer and raccoons, we saw an abundance of fox. They are beautiful animals and quite shy but don’t feed them and remember to keep your trash can lids secured to keep out the raccoons. JD and Joan D’Serio found that Dracula the Raccoon was living in the deck box they keep their cushions in. JD forgot to lock the box so Dracula lifted the lid, crawled into the box, which is rather coffin-like, and made a comfortable resting place for himself during the day. Not a fun thing to find when you reach in for a lounge cushion! When it comes to raccoons you don’t need holy water or a stake, just a strong bungee cord and/or a lock.
I’m not sure if spring ever really arrived in OBP, since March was very mild and more like May, the weather seemed to fluctuate each week. May started out so rainy I thought we would need to build an ark. The first event of the season was the opening of Schooner and the annual Kentucky Derby party, which was packed with all the regulars. Since Pat and Mike Supple (habitual winners) were not there, I thought we had a good chance of winning one of the pools. Being good friends we picked numbers for them and of course, they won by proxy! The other big winner was JD D’Serio, who also has a tendency to win. Despite the rain and a nor’easter, the annual OBP FD Spaghetti Dinner went off without a hitch and was a big success. Steve and I left in the rain for a trip to Bermuda, where I can tell you the weather was so much better!
One of the best things about the start of a new season is learning what went on while friends and neighbors were away. I especially enjoy reporting about the young people in our community since they are our future. So please send me your information or tell me when you see me on the street. Everyone likes to brag about their kids and grandkids, myself included. I have watched my next door neighbor’s children, Melody Rose and Anthony, grow up and it’s hard to believe that Melody, aka Rosie, is graduating from St. John the Baptist High School and is off to Iona College in the fall as a biology pre-vet major. Her brother, Anthony, is on the varsity track team at SJB and was named to the National Honor Society with an overall average of 96! Last year Melody did volunteer work in Peru and this year she is working on a farm where she delivered 13 piglets. Angelo Sakonas’ grandson, Nicholas, is also graduating and is off to Syracuse University where he has joined the Marine Corps ROTC and will be heading to basic training this summer.
If you see something – say something. The something is a sturgeon, which is a highly endangered fish. Lanny Vannoni spotted one of these rare, prehistoric creatures as he drove off the other day. Steve and I took a look and at first I thought it was a shark but thanks to Google, I learned that it was indeed a dead sturgeon. I emailed the picture to the Chief Park Ranger, John Stewart. If you happen to spot one of these fish, please call the National Park Service at 631-661-2556.
Until next time, thanks for reading and WELCOME BACK!