Eleven-year-old Sophia Benno, from Bellmore, adjusted her bright pink hat as she stood next to her sisters, Violet, 8 and Clara, 5. The sisters were eager to continue exploring the attractions at Freeport’s 32nd Nautical Mile Festival on June 2.
“It’s been fun, but very hot,” Violet said with a smile. “I’ve had fun spending time with Daddy.”
For a few hours, Freeporters were hesitant to visit the Nautical Mile because of potential rainy weather. At one point, there was a short conversation about possibly canceling the festival. But according to Victoria Dinielli, the director of the Freeport Recreation Center and the event organizer, Mayor Robert Kennedy assured her that the weather would hold and the day would be ideal — and it was.
With a laugh, Dinielli said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that Kennedy might consider a job as a weather forecaster for having confidently predicted a sunny Saturday, despite many prognosticators’ assertions to the contrary. With only a short rainfall, the festival carried on as planned under clear skies.
“The phrase of the day is ‘Don’t trust the weatherman,’” Kennedy said. “All week they’ve talked about rain, and this has been the best day we’ve had in a long time.”
After grabbing fried pickles and a vanilla milkshake, the Benno sisters made their way to the end of the Nautical Mile, on Woodcleft Avenue, with hundreds of Freeporters and other Long Islanders. Along the way, there was a wide range of specialty craft vendors selling clothes and novelty crafts, along with food trucks serving everything from popcorn to barbecue. In the municipal parking lot outside the Operation SPLASH building, screams of glee were heard as children rode on the carnival rides. Children walked around with ice cream cones in hand and tigers and butterflies painted on their faces, while parents chowed on hotdogs or fried Oreos.
A number of Freeport, Town of Hempstead and Nassau County elected leaders were seen chatting with constituents. At the end of the mile, the Blues Festival at Sea Breeze Park featured an Allman Brothers tribute, along with performances by local blues bands like the Gary Seller Band and others.
To give the festival an island feel, on the Esplanade there was a full-fledged steel drum band, Ricardo and Friends, playing a mix of Caribbean-themed tunes. By sundown, the Mile had transformed into a lively party, with music blaring through a number of bars and friends cheering to start the summer season.
“Freeport’s Nautical Mile Festival is a tradition that kicks off our summer for our waterfront community,” Kennedy said. “I’m so proud of the business owners here today.”