Ocean Beach Area

Like Father, Like Son

By Joey Macellaro

Seyla Wachlin with her former fourth grade teacher Loretta Ferraro, now superintendent of the Fire Island School District.

Growing up in Plainview on Long Island in the 1940s and ’50s, my father spent his summers at our family’s place on Lynbrook Road in Mastic Beach, then a summer-only community of bungalows on the Great South Bay. Dad had a small boat with an outboard motor that he would tie up amongst the reeds, and he and friends from the neighborhood would take the boat across the bay to Fire Island. The area that is now home to Smith Point County Park was open, undeveloped space, a playland for the kids and families on Long Island with access to a boat. My mother remembers taking the ride to the beach many times when she and my father were dating.

Change came when the Smith Point Bridge was opened on the Fourth of July in 1959, a couple of months before my parents married, connecting LongIsland to Fire Island and turning the beach my dad and his friends had all to themselves into a very public place.

Maybe a love for the beach is hereditary. Sometimes I wish I had a dinghy tied up in reeds down the block; it would make my commute a bit easier. Many decades may have passed, but my family, including my parents from Plainview who are celebrating their 58th anniversary, still spend time together on this same strip of sand.

Founded in the days when dad was a kid on the beach, the Ocean Beach Youth Group continues to provide a wide variety of activities for young people in the community. There are several opportunities the week of Aug. 20 for children and families to participate in multi-day intensive programs.

“Parents can sign up online for soccer, basketball, chess, hip-hop, sailing, and wakeboarding,” said Patty Brahe of the Youth Group. “Camps are by-the-day.” For more information visit the website at, www.obyg.org.

Held annually since 1980, the Ocean Beach Sandpiper Run will provide more fun for the kids on Saturday, Aug. 19, beginning at 1 p.m. Children may be registered in one of four age categories ranging from 4 to 14 years, with courses along the beach starting at Surfview Walk varying from 1/8 to 1 mile. Registration must be completed at the village office before the day of the race and is limited to the first 130 applicants.

After initially announcing several weeks ago that all lumber would be prohibited from the freight ferries through Labor Day, village officials decided on July 27 that lumber would be allowed for transport only on Wednesday freight ferries beginning Aug. 2.

The Ocean Beach Historical Society will be opening its third exhibit of the season, titled “Gone Fishin’: Ocean Beach Fishing, Past and Present” on Saturday, Aug. 12, with a wine and cheese reception in the Society’s space at the east end of the community house at 7 p.m. The show will feature the work of photographer Carl Richards.

After 24 seasons, the Miller family transferred ownership of Michael’s Ristorante and Pizzeria at the corner of Bay Walk and Evergreen to Jamie Ragusa, a familiar face in the community as a member of the fire department and bartender at Island Mermaid for many years. Best wishes to Mr. Ragusa in his new endeavor.

A transformer fire on a telephone pole at Ocean Breeze and Midway shut down both walks in the vicinity on the afternoon of Saturday, July 22. The Free Union Church, which was evacuated as a result of the fire, wishes to thank all those in the community who signed up to volunteer for its first Vacation Bible School program this year, however the decision has been made to postpone the program until next summer. A meeting will be announced for volunteers later in August. Additionally, the church will be hosting a family movie night on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m.

Every year since 2007, members of Free Union have cheered participants in the Run for Rose as they pass the church on their way through Ocean Bay Park, Seaview, and Ocean Beach. The 5K race, which begins and ends at Flynn’s in Ocean Bay Park, is organized by the Rose DiGangi Foundation, named in honor of the East Islip resident who lost her life to brain cancer. Runners may register for the race at www.fi5k.org.

News12 Long Island reporter Erin Colton will be hosting a charity fashion show at the Landing at Ocean Beach on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. Shops in town, including Flair House, Bambootique, Salty Stitch, A Summer Place, Fire Island Outfitters, Ooh La La, and Hanalei & Kula’s, will be contributing their wares. Proceeds will be donated to the family of Ocean Beach Police Officer Mark Mkwanazi, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. Tickets may be purchased at the Landing.

The winners of the Community Fund’s children’s art show on July 22 were Jack Brennan, for his drawings and paintings, and Eli Gitter-Dentz, for his pencil and charcoal drawings. Both won themselves spots in the Fund’s fine arts and crafts show on the village green on Saturday, August 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, August 13, from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

It is with regret that we announce the death of Doris F. Kirtzman of Brooklyn and Ocean Beach on July 24 at the age of 84. We send our condolences to her children and grandchildren, many with ties to Fire Island.

Former Woodhull School seasonal student Seyla Wachlin of Oakleyville and the Netherlands is to receive a master’s degree in computational science, cum laude, from the University of Amsterdam. After a short vacation here on the beach, she will be taking a position as a software engineer with Google in Zurich, Switzerland, in September. Congratulations and best of luck to this fifth-generation Fire Islander.

Until next time — see you on the beach.

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