Every January for the past 65 years, members of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce have dressed to the nines for a festive evening on which they have installed a new executive board and recognized the previous year’s achievements.
Although the chamber didn’t hold its 66th annual installation in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, there was still a lot to celebrate this year, said new President Richie Krug Jr.
“Now that the vaccination’s out, I’m very excited to get back to things we couldn’t have in 2020,” said, Krug, 33, referring to events like the Easter egg hunt and Culinary Delights — the chamber’s biggest fundraiser. But the group had a successful year nonetheless, he said, and hosted new events like its reopening festival in August and Trunk-r-Treat on Halloween.
County Legislator Thomas McKevitt swore in Krug with the rest of the board on Zoom on Jan. 6. The 2021 board, Krug said, includes a combination of new leaders with fresh ideas and old members who could guide them.
“Everyone brings their own personality, everyone brings their own ideas and everyone brings their own experience,” he said.
The new board plans to kick off a number of events and fundraisers in the next month. Vice President James P. Skinner is coordinating a Super Bowl box betting pool, Treasurer Mitchell Allen is in charge of creating and selling “Welcome to East Meadow” signs and Secretary Marcella Pizzo is hosting a “sip and paint” night on Zoom.
One of the most ambitious plans the chamber has for the future is to host a chamber street fair similar to those held in neighboring communities like Bellmore and Merrick.
“There are multiple sticks in the fire right now,” Krug said.
In April 2019, Krug led the chamber’s first Easter egg hunt in Veterans Memorial Park, and explored the area for the first time since he was a child. But after reliving some memories, walking past the pool and around the park’s less-visited areas, he said, it became clear that there was a lot of work to be done to restore it to its former state.
That summer, the chamber partnered with the Town of Hempstead to start making long-needed repairs and renovations at “Town Square,” as many residents call the park. So far, the town has repaved the basketball and tennis courts, renovated the locker rooms and installed new benches throughout the park. It also replaced the lighting in the parking lot, the toilet seats in the men’s restroom and the nets on the basketball hoops. This summer, the town will open a new spray park by the pool.
“It’s nice to see that the town is more than willing to work with the chamber to get this done,” Krug said. “The community is very important to us. If the community is thriving, business is thriving.”
Krug graduated from East Meadow High School in 2005, and studied liberal arts at SUNY Old Westbury for almost two years before finishing an associate’s degree at Nassau Community College in 2007. He earned a real estate license in 2010, and joined his family’s business, the Krug Team, at Century 21 American Homes.
He joined the chamber four years ago, and was elected to its board of directors in 2017 under then-president Frank Camarano. Krug lives in East Meadow with his wife, Taleen, 32, who also works for The Krug Team, and their children, Christian, 5, and McKenzie, 3.
“Tal and I were raised here, and we’re choosing to raise our kids here, too,” he said, “so that should tell you everything you need to know about how I feel about the community.”