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The Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce only established its current form less than a month ago, but in that short time it’s already full steam ahead on a number of ambitious projects.

“It’s gangbusters, and it’s a challenge, but we wanted to get something on the map right away,” said John Tochterman, chamber treasurer and the branch and financial services manager for the Teachers Federal Credit Union in Rocky Point.

The chamber hosted its first meeting in August, but already it is planning several events including multiple festivals, expos and golf tournaments. Gary Pollakusky, the president of the new chamber and managing partner of Media Barrel LLC in Rocky Point, said the hamlets of Rocky Point and Sound Beach need a group to champion not only those on the highly trafficked Route 25A, but the businesses on the roads leading to the North Shore.

“The first piece of what we do is bring business into the area and inspire our merchants to do things that are a bit out of the box,” Pollakusky said. “We have to get customers to our different business districts — to our Sound Beach business district and our Route 25A business district.”

The chamber started to come together in January, when Marie Stewart, the owner of Brooklyn Bagels & Café in Rocky Point began gathering local business owners, slowly building the chamber until it formed a new board in March. In June, the chamber incorporated and attained 501(c)(6) chamber status.

In October 2017, the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, which covered businesses from Port Jefferson Station to Wading River, dissolved because the time commitment proved too much for volunteers in such a large coverage area. It was then decided the chamber would split up to take on original shapes, which focused on businesses in just a handful of hamlets.

Pollakusky said the North Brookhaven chamber collapsed because it simply couldn’t reach every nook and cranny of businesses in its coverage area. Now more people are stepping up in local communities to fill the void left behind.

Members of the Port Jefferson area created the Port Jefferson/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, people in the Mount Sinai area established the Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance, and the community in the Shoreham area created Wading River Shoreham Chamber of Commerce.

Jeff Davis, owner of the Rocky Point Funeral Home was part of the North Brookhaven Chamber before it dissolved, and he said the new chamber focusing on the local businesses is heading in the right direction.

“They have all the right ideas — I’m hoping they can pull it off,” Davis said. “We’ve talked about [the fall festival] for years. It takes people who want to get involved to do it.”

Already boasting approximately 40 members, according to Pollakusky, chamber leaders are still looking for new people to fill positions on the board. They are asking local business people to fill positions to help welcome owners to the neighborhood, hold ribbon cuttings, drive membership, find sponsorships and plan events, among others.

“The more the merrier,” said Stewart, who now serves as chamber vice president.

Plans are set for the Fall Festival in the Rocky Point business district Oct. 27. The event will include a children’s costume parade, hayrides, local vendors and demonstrations from the Rocky Point Fire District. After hours, the event will also include a late-night adult-only session including live music, a beer garden and costume contest.

Events are being planned into next year. The chamber hopes to establish a spring festival to be set in Sound Beach next year, along with a senior expo and golf tournament fundraiser. Pollakusky said they were still ironing out the full details for those events.

“There’s all kinds of businesses that need our support, it could be our lawyers, our doctors, our nonprofits, it could be our home-based businesses, our brick and mortar craft merchants, our restaurants, there are many categories of business that need our help,” Pollakusky said. “To look at every category and see how we can support them that is the difference maker in this chamber.”

The chamber is looking for more volunteers and vendors for its upcoming Fall Festival. Contact the chamber through its website, www.rpsbchamber.org.

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After living in our new house in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a few weeks, we were delighted to receive an invitation to a block party to meet our neighbors.

Up to that point, we’d only seen and spoken with one neighbor. She and her family welcomed us to the area, offered an air-conditioning reference and shared the garbage pickup schedule.

The morning of the upcoming gathering, my wife and I took a walk through the neighborhood. We admired the landscaping and architecture of nearby homes. We moved off the sidewalk as runners passed us. We trotted up one lawn to clear space for a biker whose steering wheel seemed to be pulling left and right.

Most of the people in cars waved as they passed, a regular occurrence here, even when they didn’t know us.

My wife believes I alert the canines in the area that I am a “dog person.” A golden retriever and a black Labrador spotted me from across the street and stared, causing their owner to stop and wait as they watched us disappear up the block.

A friendly man with a small dog stopped and chatted. He asked if we were residents and if we were attending the block party that evening. When we told him we moved here with our kids, he asked what brought us down.

“Work,” we said.

“Oh,” he said, turning to me. “Did you get a job with one of the banks?”

“No, my wife did,” I replied, directing his attention to her.

He was embarrassed and immediately apologized for assuming I had landed a job that required us to relocate. We reassured him it was fine and we kept walking.

I am proud of my wife and her professional accomplishments. I also recognize, even in a world where people regularly discuss equal opportunity, that we are still far from situations in which people can’t assume anything about the roles husbands and wives play when they meet a couple.

Later that evening, with our children in tow, we walked the few blocks to the party, waving politely at a man who almost certainly carried a beer the same way 20 years ago when he was in college, although his clothing, like ours, was probably a few sizes smaller. Maybe that’s an unfair assumption, too?

When we arrived on a tree-lined cul-de-sac, we noticed that most of the children were considerably younger than our pair, who snarled about an early exit.

After urging them to stay, we made some selections in the crowd and broke the social ice. Consistent with our experience since our arrival, we found people who came originally from Long Island, New York and New Jersey.

We chatted with a proud father, who pointed to his high school senior and proclaimed her the best athlete in her entire school.

“You must be in public relations,” I said.

He and his daughter laughed.

“That guy over there,” he said, pointing to a house.

“Yes?” I replied.

“He is a neurosurgeon who works with football players. His attends games and he does concussion protocol.”

“Really?” I asked.

“The players are supposed to say ‘spaghetti’ when they see him after a hard hit. They get hit so hard that they say things like ‘ham’ or ‘bologna’ because they can’t remember the first concussion word,” he offered.

Our children, despite their initial disappointment, found contemporaries that night and are cellphone buddies with the kids on the block. We received restaurant recommendations and local service provider referrals, while we also will recognize a few of the people who exchange pleasant waves on and off the block.

Sound Beach resident Todd Leighley’s mustache is freckled with gray and his face shows lines of age, but he doesn’t mind. Though his left leg was amputated below the knee after a motorcycle crash in 2009, and now he wears a thick carbon fiber prosthetic, all that matters to him is that he continue the sports he played as a kid, namely skating. He has embarked on a mission to try to get a skate park built in his community.

“I’m fat, middle aged and one legged, and I’m having the time of my life,” Leighley said.

For the past four years Leighley, the 47-year-old emergency services specialist for public electric company Public Service Enterprise Group, has been advocating for the construction of a skate park in the Sound Beach area, which he hopes to call Hawks Nest All Wheel Park. What he has in mind is something to help those kids in the area who aren’t keen to participate in the usual team sports.

“Skateboarding is looked down upon — it’s not embraced and supported like football and lacrosse,” the skateboarder said. “The parks are coming, and they can’t keep fighting it forever.”

When he was 6 years old Leighley said he learned to love skating. He became mired in a culture that conveys freedom: freedom of expression, freedom from problems, freedom to go where you want. His appreciation for the culture deepened when he moved to Hawaii in his 20s and became involved in the surfing scene. It was a continuous part of his life until 2009 when he was involved in a motorcycle crash, suffering compound fractures in his femur, tibia and fibula. The leg had to be removed, and he did not know if he could continue with all his favorite sports from his childhood.

It was around the time shortly after the accident he said he learned, in the Brooklyn Bike Park, which was a different type of skate park, of something called a “pump track,” where riders build momentum through the up and down motion of wheels on a track with several ups and downs, either with a bike or skateboard.

“It’s like a roller coaster, but instead of a roller coaster that would use machinery to pull carts up hill, here you’re using your muscles,” Leighley said. “You’re pumping and using it to get speed. It tricks you into using your muscles.”

He said that type of skate park revitalized his lifelong passion for skating. The transcendent experience of boarding around the block is something he said he wants his community to feel.

While the skater exudes passion from every pore, Leighley has had trouble generating the right type of interest for the project from the community. While there are multiple mountain bike trails in the area and the Shoreham BMX track right behind the Robert S. Reid Community Center, there are very few options for a skateboarder other than sidewalks and roadways, not unless they want to travel many miles to either Riverhead, Amityville or Huntington.

Joseph Mannix, a Copiague social studies teacher, is also a community leader when it comes to the Huntington skateboarding community and has walked the steps Leighley is trying to follow. As a veteran skater who has been boarding since “the clay wheel days” of the 1970s, he is the one chiefly responsible for the East Northport Veterans Park Skate Park. It was built after years of working with his community, starting with skating lessons that eventually built up into clubs and a driving interest of local children, adults and eventually support from the town.

“At [the Greenlawn Skate Park] I started a lessons program and summer camp which became so successful that the town got interested, and they saw how much revenue they were making and how healthy it was,” Mannix said. “I was pushing for those kids who are not so into organized sports, or kids into organized sports who want the personal experience of skateboarding.”

While those parks remain popular, Leighley said he believes a park filled with transitions, pools and quarter pipes can only apply to 20 percent of adrenaline sports enthusiasts because of how daunting they seem to a newcomer. He said a pump track can apply to people of any skill level since riders can take any path at their own pace.

Port Jefferson resident Rachel Whalen, 30, a friend of Leighley’s, said she just got back into skating about seven months ago, and as a single mother raising two children, she wants to have a place near her home where she can exercise along with her kids.

“I would use it, I would want my kids to use it to,” Whalen said.

Despite the setbacks in trying to get the project off the ground, the Sound Beach resident said he has become closer to his community through his skate park campaign. Leighley became involved with the North Shore Youth Council, where executive director of the organization Janene Gentile said he teaches local kids basics in martial arts. While Gentile sees him as a caring man, she said others in the community have been unnerved by his classic skater-rebellion style personality.

“[Leighley] has the personality of a very radical dude, and while he’s trying to temper it, some people get taken aback,” Gentile said. “He’s a radical dude, but he’s caring, compassionate and passionate about his vision.”

Skateboarders agree that tenacity is the foundation of the sport. As long as one keeps at learning a trick, despite its difficulty, eventually any technique can be learned. It’s why Leighley said he will not be giving up on his vision any time soon.

“Kids need hope,” he said. “They need these things, they need these lifelines to pull them up.”

Here are some chuckles from the internet. Hope you enjoy them.

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.

2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”

3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

4. A dyslexic man walked into a bra.

5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm, and says, “A beer, please — and one for the road.”

6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

7. “Doc, I can’t stop singing ‘Green, Green Grass of Home.’” “That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome.” “Is it
common?” “Well, it’s not unusual.”

8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, “I was artificially inseminated this morning.” “I don’t believe you,” says Dolly. “It’s true, no bull,” exclaims Daisy.

9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

10. Déjà moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.

11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day, but I couldn’t find any.

12. A man woke up in the hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, “Doctor, doctor, I can’t feel my legs.” The doctor replied, “I know, I amputated your arms.”

13. I went to a seafood disco last week … and pulled a mussel.

14. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says, “Dam!”

16. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Not surprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office, and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer,” he explained to them.

18. A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt, and is named Ahmal. The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him Juan. Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, “They’re twins. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Ahmal.”

19. A dwarf, who was a mystic, escaped from jail. The call went out that there was a small medium at large.

20. And finally, there was the person who sent 20 different puns to his friends with the hope that at least 10 of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in 10 did.

Thousands flocked to the annual Long Island Fall Festival, hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Town of Huntington, in Heckscher Park from Oct. 6 to 9. The event was lively Saturday as unseasonably warm weather brought attendees out to enjoy a variety of live performances, street vendors, carnival rides and games. Rainy weather thinned the crowd later in the weekend, but did not stop the festivities.

Residents of the Huntington area gathered at the annual East Northport Volunteer Fire Department’s fair last weekend. The fair had rides for all ages, games with prizes, raffles, live music and food for all to enjoy.

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Village ready to kick off parade and fireworks on July 4

Antonio Febles, 3, and sister Sofia Febles, 7, from Port Jefferson Station get into the spirit despite the rain at the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s July 4 parade last year. Photo by Bob Savage

Port Jefferson is going to be a sea of red, white and blue on Saturday, July 4.

To kick off the day, the Port Jefferson Fire Department will hold its annual Independence Day parade, rain or shine.

The event will start at 10 a.m., with participants marching down Main Street from the Infant Jesus Church at Myrtle Avenue to the harbor, turning left on West Broadway toward Barnum Avenue, and then finishing at the firehouse on Maple Place.

According to the PJFD, roads along the parade route and participant lineup areas will be closed at 8:15 a.m. that day, including Main Street going as far south as North Country Road; Reeves Road; and High Street between Main and Stony Hill Road. Detour signs will direct drivers to the ferry and downtown area.

Later in the day, weather permitting, Port Jefferson Village will continue its annual tradition of setting off fireworks between its East and West beaches in a salute to the nation’s freedom and its Founding Fathers.

The free fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.

A resident parking sticker is required to park at the village beaches.

The fireworks are also visible from the neighboring Cedar Beach on Mount Sinai Harbor.

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