Nearly 2,500 people gathered in Greis Park Saturday — many decked out in the traditional German lederhosen — to celebrate Oktoberfest and raise money for the Lynbrook Community Chest.
“It really was great,” Mayor Alan Beach said. “There were so many nice volunteers trying to help out and make it work so well. So many people helped. It was really a great event.”
Beach said officials were still tallying how much money was raised for the Community Chest, which provides financial help to village residents who have fallen on hard times. He added that he was grateful for the nearly 50 volunteers, including Larry Swing, who helped in many ways, along with members of the Knights of Columbus; Frank Pignataro, who owns River Mill and provided German food; Bryan Lanzello, owner of Lanzello Roofing & Remodeling, who provided the Ferris wheel; Pat Alonge, who ran activities for children; police and fire department members, who ensured safety; and Department of Public Works employees, who helped serve beer to attendees.
Lynbrook Community Chest Chairman Brian Curran, a former state assemblyman, said he was grateful for the event, and noted that it aided “Lynbrook residents and families that may be experiencing difficult times and are truly in need of assistance.”
Saturday marked the second Oktoberfest after the inaugural event saw similar success in 2019, and the planned follow-up outing was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Children’s activities included German games and face-painting, and there was also a magician and a performance by the Johnny Sinatra Band. Several vendors opened booths around the park’s perimeter, and there was fun for the whole family, as well as beer, brats and bands.
“People really enjoyed the band and the activities that were there for kids of all ages,” Chamber of Commerce Vice President Nazia DeFrank said. “It was a fun, family-filled event that brought people together, and it felt like the joyous times in the village that we had pre-Covid. I hope this event kick-starts the town’s other traditional events.”
DeFrank and the chamber hosted a Bavarian chocolate pie-eating contest, which was won by her husband, Steven DeFrank, who bested 19 opponents by finishing his pie in less than three minutes to earn the crown. The event also featured a beer stein-holding contest, for which participants had to extend their arms and see how long they could hold a liter of beer. Ronan Walsh toppled the others, holding his for 4 minutes, 55 seconds to win. Chamber of Commerce President Cory Hirsch and Lynbrook Police Chief Brian Paladino served as judges.
“The contests were awesome and so funny,” Beach said. “I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.”
The success of the contests means they will return next year, Beach and DeFrank said. DeFrank noted that a great deal of planning went into the event, including meetings of about 15 to 20 residents, business owners and elected officials to ensure that it all went smoothly.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic,” she said. “. . . After such a long time, people got to sing, dance and enjoy festivities all together as a community. I’m hoping this event will kick-start the village’s traditional Halloween and Christmas events.”
Beach said he looked forward to the village’s third Oktoberfest next fall. “It was a community event, and the volunteers are so appreciated,” he said. “It couldn’t have been done without them.”