The Same Boat
By Joey Macellaro
“We did not all come over on the same ship, but we are all in the same boat,” wrote financier Bernard Baruch. Although some of us are homeowners, some hotel visitors, some business owners, some day-trippers, some renters, and some laborers, we all have a stake in our community, a bustling village, and its neighbors at the heart of Fire Island. Many of us who were transients here have made the slow move toward permanency, often transitioning from renting or working to proud citizenship.
Regardless of how we arrived, some of the best opportunities for embracing our positions as stakeholders are found during election seasons. Over the last several weeks, the talk-of-the-town often centered on the impending Village of Ocean Beach elections for mayor, two village trusteeships, and village justice. As occupants of the “same boat,” many of us in the community did our civic duty by actively participating in debate and casting votes on Friday, June 1.
After meeting friends at the ferry dock on Saturday, May 26, Patty Brahe noted that we had already missed the first few minutes of the candidates’ forum being hosted by the Ocean Beach Association at the Community House. Mayor James Mallott, Trustee Brian Power, and trustee candidates Tara Schoen Fishman and Dawn Hargraves participated in the well-attended event, addressing questions submitted by members of the audience. Opinions varied, although the candidates received a collective round of applause after speaking unfavorably about the 1 a.m. ferry, cancelled a year ago last week.
Saturday was the bright spot of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, as rain threatened on Sunday and Monday. Due to weather, the Ocean Beach Fire Department moved its Sunday morning Memorial Day celebration to the Community House, where Sgt. Hank Clemmons spoke on the significance of the holiday and why its meaning differs from that of Veterans Day. Chief Ian Levine reported that the fire department’s annual blood drive on Saturday afternoon was successful and drew about 50 donors.
The Ocean Beach Community Fund (OBCF) will be hosting a flea market and bake sale on the ball field on Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact Gail Stamler at 516-312-6774 for more information. The OBCF also wishes to extend an early invitation to the Fund’s screening of John Favreau’s film “Chef,” on the athletic field the evening of Friday, July 6. Additionally, the Fire Island Animal Welfare Society and the Free Union Church are planning to screen a film on the work of the Society’s president, John McCollum, the weekend of June 30, with details to be announced.
The Ocean Beach Association (OBA) is a non-profit organization that for nearly four decades has raised funds to benefit the community through events, projects, and funding of groups including the Ocean Beach Historical Society, the lifeguards, and the police and fire departments. The OBA would like to extend an invitation for current and prospective members to attend its summer meeting at the Community House, at 11 a.m., on Saturday, June 23.
OBA President Maria Silsdorf reached out to invite the community to a fundraiser she is hosting with Gail Miller, Ann Biederman, and Judy Kahn to benefit Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley of Amityville. Grechen Shirley recently received national media attention for winning the right from the Federal Election Commission to use campaign funds for childcare expenses. The event will be held at the Island Mermaid at Bay Walk and Ocean Breeze this Saturday, June 9, from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. The cost of a plate begins at $100 and pre-registration is not required.
Now is the time to register campers for the Ocean Beach Youth Group (OBYG), which is moving back into Windswept, its longtime home on the bay at Ocean Road, this season. Parents may register their children, ages 3 to 13, for the week, the month, or a full season, with a counselor-in-training program available for 14-year-olds. June 25 is the first day of the July session. Additionally, a welcome back fundraiser is being held at Windswept, from 6 to 10 p.m., on Saturday, July 14, with drinks, appetizers, live music, and a silent auction. Tickets are $50 per person or $80 per couple and may be purchased at the camp office at the community house or at www. obyg.org.
The OBYG’s homecoming is among several changes in town. After 24 years of ownership by Mark Miller and his family, Jamie Ragusa purchased Michael’s Pizza at Bay Walk and Evergreen last year. Ragusa has revamped the restaurant and reopened this season as Big Al’s Sip n’ Surf Kitchen & Beach Bar, leaving Town Pizza as the sole pizza spot on the strip.
Across the street, a void has been left at 930 Bay Walk as longtime resident Shirley Wersebe has moved upstate full-time. Members of Wersebe’s family had previously owned the commercial buildings on both sides of her bayside bungalow and were active members of the community.
As previously mentioned, Ocean Beach lost longtime resident Thomas Sigelakis on March 5. His daughter Jennifer Sigelakis writes: “‘T’ was well-known for awesome breakfasts, an eclectic art collection, and his peaceful and generous nature. He was lovingly called ‘the mayor of Ocean Beach’ by his daughter because he couldn’t walk through town without greeting and talking with everyone. He was a lover of nature and all animals, but cats (usually named for radical leaders) held a special place in his heart. Music, art, and literature of nearly every genre were a big part of his life, of which he spent much time enjoying with friends and family.”
In happier news, Thomas’s sister Daphne Sigelakis married longtime boyfriend Kevin Gillespie of Summer Club on May 26. Both were previously employed in transportation for the Fire Island School, with Daphne later working in the post office. Both are now retired and reside upstate.
I hope to be on the same literal boat as you sometime soon. Until then, enjoy the beach.
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