The iconic Sea Cliff Mini Mart scheduled for Oct. 3, has been pushed back until Oct. 2, 2022. The Village of Sea Cliff, which hosts the annual event, and the North Shore Kiwanis Club, which organizes the event, decided not to hold the festival this year; a decision that caused disappointment and confusion for attendees of the annual event.
The decision was jointly made primarily because of concerns over the highly infectious delta variant of Covid-19, according to the event’s organizers.
“Our number one concern must remain in protecting the health and well-being of our residents and visitors,” Mayor Elena Villafane said.
The annual Sea Cliff Mini Mart, an arts and crafts exposition showcasing the small businesses of the village and surrounding communities, takes place on the first Sunday of October in downtown Sea Cliff. Each year, over 100 vendors line the streets of downtown Sea Cliff, showcasing their businesses, gaining exposure and offering attendees their products or services.
“This event funds many worthy not-for-profit entities each year, but the public’s health is paramount,” Lisa Larsen-Hill, President of Sea Cliff Mini Mart, said.
Due to Mini Mart's popularity and the location logistics of accommodating over 12,000 people in Sea Cliff's confined street space, organizers said they would not have been able to assure social distancing.
“I don’t know about other events, but Mini Mart gets insanely crowded,” Jess Woodrow, of Sea Cliff, said. “Last time I went, everyone was shoulder to shoulder. I imagine that was a consideration [in making their decision.]”
Both Villafane and Larsen-Hill agreed that if the tide turns and the virus retreats, the Mini Mart will return in 2022.
Many residents who look forward to the event each year were disappointed to hear that once again, the village’s beloved Mini Mart was cancelled for the second year in a row. Others were confused over the decision to postpone once again, pointing to the number of similar events taking place around the Island, despite Covid concerns.
“Heartbreaking that the Mini Mart gets canceled when we’ve been showing a 70 percent vaccination rate, as other Long Island events move forward,” Mitchell Schlimer of Sea Cliff said in a Facebook comment. “It’s really sad, especially for the small business who seriously need all the revenue they can generate.”
At the time of publication, 78 percent of Sea Cliff’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, on par with the county’s vaccination rate and higher than the state’s rate at 72 percent, and the national rate of 66 percent.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infections in fully vaccinated people happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can be infectious and can spread the virus.
The CDC recommendation for large gatherings suggests organizers should continue to assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone or cancel large events and gatherings, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for events.
“I trust this decision was made thoughtfully,” Woodrow said.“People are getting sick at events and concerts; I think the choice was reasonable, but disappointing.”
Although the Mini Mart was unable to go on this year, some community leaders saw it as an opportunity. Deep Roots Farmers Market partnered with K. DiResta Collective, a Sea Cliff business, and Cove City Arts, a branch of Glen Cove Arts Council, to have a similar, downsized event in place of Mini Mart on Oct. 23. The organizers wanted to create a space where local artists can present their work and gain exposure. Proceeds from the event will be donated to North Shore Kiwanis, a local organization that works to better the lives of children.
The Glen Cove Creek Artisan Fair hosted this year by Amy Peters of Deep Roots Farmers Market will also support the Kiwanis Club, which lost its biggest fundraiser for a second year in a row with Mini Mart’s cancellation. The fair will include a number of local vendors.
“Thankfully the Creek event is spread out and even in the height of lock down last year we were able to accommodate and safely usher over 1,000 patrons and get artisans’ work seen and sold,” Nicole Loizides Albruzzese, Board Chair of Cove City Arts said. “It just takes forethought, which unfortunately, many of our local governments fall short on.”