Aug. 7 is Purple Heart Day, a national holiday commemorating George Washington’s creation of this prestigious medal in 1782, which is awarded to any American soldier injured or killed in battle by an enemy combatant.
This year, Hope’s Land of Candy, celebrating three years of business in Island Park in July, honored the day on its eve by hosting a World War II-era armored car in the old-fashioned candy shop’s parking lot on the corners of Austin Boulevard, Texas Avenue and Long Beach Road.
“We decided that we didn’t just want to celebrate us,” Hope’s co-owner Joan Cohen said of the event. “We felt that we really wanted to celebrate the vets. You know, life is tough, but a vet’s life is tougher, and we wanted to do something special for them.”
The car, provided by Marc Renton, director of the Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage, was an M8 Greyhound variant, used during World War II for reconnaissance and infantry support missions, and was replete with a crew of reenactors wearing era-specific equipment.
While the car provided spectacle, there was also free food and candy, face painting, and a harmonica and a capella group. Other businesses contributing to the event included Outback Steakhouse, Puma’s Auto Body in Island Park, Non-Stop Towing in Freeport and Shane’s Dollar Daze. Additionally, Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty, Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Assemblywoman Missy Miller and county Legislator Denise Ford were on-hand to say a few words in honor of the holiday.