Ocean Beach Area: Small Town Advantage

By Joey Macellaro

Although the collective population of Fire Island has grown over the last few months from 400 to around 25,000, a small-town feeling is retained here in Ocean Beach and the other communities in spite of the crowds. It is difficult to walk more than a few blocks without seeing a familiar face – and thankfully so.
After photographing the village police and fire chiefs on the docks for our last issue, I realized I had somehow misplaced a notepad containing all the information for this column, a stack of handouts, and two copies of the new Ocean Beach Association directory, among other paperwork. My submission deadline for the column was due in less than 24 hours.
As I make numerous stops while gathering news, the process of retracing my steps required some running. After visiting the post office, the community house, Kenny Goodman’s gallery, the hardware store, and CJ’s without success, I spotted my stack of paperwork on the desk in the Love the Plumber office – behind a locked glass door. Chief Hesse from the police department happened to be walking past me down the street.
“Any chance you’ve seen Gary Cuomo in the last half hour?” I asked. “I left my things in his office.”
“He’s probably taking this boat,” the Chief said.
“Quick – it’s about to head out.” After running to the dock, we found Gary, the captain held the ferry an extra minute, and my column was saved. Gary had called me several times, but I was oblivious.
Speaking of phone calls, I received a very pleasant one from Rita Silver, co-chairperson of the Ocean Beach Community Fund, who spoke about the many programs and events being coordinated by the Community Fund this season.
As previously mentioned in this column, the Community Fund secured rights from Disney to show the 2017 live-action film “Beauty and the Beast” on a theater-sized inflatable screen on the ball field at sunset tonight, Friday, July 7. Popcorn will be served, but attendees are asked to bring their own chairs and water. Also this weekend, the Fund will be featuring Shecky and the Twangtones in two concerts on the dock this Saturday, July 8, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Additionally, the ever-exuberant Les Lieber of Ocean Beach – who celebrated his 105th birthday in March with a cruise to the Caribbean with his wife, Edith – will be presenting his annual Chill Out jazz concert at the community house on Friday, July 14, at 6 p.m.
Silver spoke about the Fund’s upcoming fine arts and crafts show being held on Aug. 12 and 13, and the associated children’s art show being held on the village green on Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. As an added incentive for children to enter their work, the first-prize piece will be entered into the adult art show free of charge. Applications for both shows are available at the village office. Art show entrance fees help to fund grants established by the Community Fund.
Lastly, Silver asked us to spread the word about the Community Fund’s annual gala benefit dance being held on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 7:30 p.m., and featuring the band Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Tickets are $75 per person and include food and an open bar. A silent auction will be held. Tickets $85 at the door. For more information on this and other programs of the Community Fund, email obcfund@gmail.com.
The Ocean Beach Historical Society, founded in 1980, exists as an arm of the Community Fund and is jointly funded by the Fund and the Village of Ocean Beach. Linna Salamone has returned this season as curator of the more than 1,000 items maintained by the Society in its space in the community house. The exhibit, “Wanderlust, Whimsical and Wildlife,” featuring the art of Nancy Ney, Richie Dziuba, and Lelah Cafuoco, is on display from July 15-31. A wine and cheese reception will be held at the Historical Society at the opening of the exhibit at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 15.
The Ocean Beach Youth Group is now in full swing for the season. Patty Brahe dropped us a line to share that campers ages 3 to 13 are welcome to join the fun by the week or the month, and that parents may visit www.obyg.org to register.
The unofficial start of the summer season came this past weekend with the annual children’s parade on the Fourth of July and the awarding of the best-dressed patriotic home. Our village lifeguards are busy. Nick Stertz tells us the date for the annual lifeguard tournament has yet to be set, but will most likely be during the first week of August.
As this column covers not only Ocean Beach but our neighbors to the west as well, we would like to wish Dr. John Ruisi of Summer Club a very happy birthday.
Drop me a line by email this week – and if you spot an owner-less notepad or Fire Island News folder on a desk or countertop in town, it’s probably mine.

Friends celebrating the holiday on the deck at Maguire’s.

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