Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, people around the country are getting ready to celebrate this holiday season. In Oyster Bay, nothing puts people in a festive spirit like the hamlet’s Holiday Stroll and Tree Lighting.
Organized by the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Association, and Dawn Riley, from Oakcliff Sailing, the event was originally called the Holiday Market and focused around the bandstand. Like with everything else, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the organizers to adapt by spreading the market across Audrey Avenue as well, turning it into a “stroll” through town.
“This was enacted actually as a way to control crowds and enforce social distancing, but it has become so popular we decided to keep it,” Meredith Maus, executive director for the Main Street, explained. “This really helps our brick and mortar stores and has only served to grow the event.”
This year, with Covid mostly under control across the country, the event turned into a boon, as the Holiday Stroll was able to accommodate more people than ever before. In fact, Riley, a board member of the Chamber of Commerce and the executive director of Oakcliff, said that she believes this was the largest event they’d ever held.
“We did a few calculations, and we figure that there was between 2,500 and 3,000 people who came to Oyster Bay, which is great,” Riley said. “So having that many people there was pretty cool.”
The heart of Oyster Bay was awash with visitors and residents who took part in the festivities. Whether they were kids who got their faces painted or went skating on the portable ice-skating rink, or adults enjoying a meal at the food court or a beer from the Oyster Bay Brewery, there was something for everyone at the Holiday Stroll.
Amy Reilly Hanley, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, explained that this event really provides the community with a chance to enjoy the beauty of the hamlet, while also supporting their local businesses. Reilly Hanley also asserted that not only does the event provide a chance for people to get out of the house despite the weather, but also to explore and appreciate their historical little hamlet.
“So many people still came out and braved the cold and had a good time,” Reilly Hanley said. “It really looked like it was out of a storybook, which is one of the great parts of this hamlet of ours. It’s very picturesque.”