Back to business as usual now, but last Thursday night, May 19, was magical. As some 300 community members, advertisers and readers know firsthand, we had a 40th anniversary party aboard the P.T. Barnum, one of the ferries of The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company. There are three vessels in its fleet that sail between the two shores of the Long Island Sound, and the reason we reserved that particular one was its wide center aisle, which we converted into a dance floor after we ate.
Speaking of eating, the food was simply delicious, if I do say so myself. Catered by Elegant Eating of Smithtown, owned by Myra Naseem and Neil Schumer, the supper was a choice of Thai chicken, orange salmon, a vegetarian and a vegan meal. Each guest was handed a shopping bag with the entrée of choice inside as he and she came aboard. It was like being given a grab bag with surprise contents to be pulled out, one at a time, once the passengers were seated. Included were a small tray of appetizers, a fun salad, a larger box with the main course and sides, and a little bag of scrumptious mouthfuls of desserts. Bars at either end of the boat provided white or red wine — or water — to accompany the meal.
All of this played out against a backdrop of quiet dinner music from our talented DJ, who was able to stop and get a bite to eat himself when he was temporarily replaced by the High C’s, a delightful a cappella act. Drawn from Stony Brook University students, the group harmonized beautifully and was widely praised throughout the evening.
We also viewed a short video of different staff members at work and a slightly longer film clip previewing seven dramatic episodes we will be releasing in two months about the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring. The video action came to life, as actors in Revolutionary War costumes seemed to leap from the film and began dueling across the ferry’s main cabin. Unlike the AMC popular cable drama, “Turn,” ours will be authentic and will be accessible through a QR code — that is, a matrix barcode — on our Three Village map. Wait for it until July.
As soon as the formal, albeit brief program was over, we turned the floor loose for dancing. The DJ encouraged guests to rise and “cut the rug,” with his lively music. Some guests drifted outside to the stern or up to the top deck to watch Nature’s spectacular show. While we gladly take credit for the many other logistics of the party that worked, we can only give thanks for the turn the weather did that afternoon. What dawned as a gray and uninspiring day, with a damp chill and the distinct possibility of rain, became sunny and warm. The skies cleared to allow a Hollywoodesque sunset.
As the ferry slowly turned around from its “cruise to nowhere” and re-entered the harbor, we were honored to have state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. offer some deeply appreciated kind words about our newspapers. Comptroller Kennedy brought a proclamation marking the occasion and Assemblyman Englebright, who has been in public office about as long as we have been publishing and hence knows us well, talked about our track record over the years. It was a lovely finale to what was for us a memorable evening.
Other officials have sent proclamations as well, including Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia on behalf of Huntington, and members of the government of Brookhaven Town, led by Supervisor Ed Romaine. We will be proud to publish them over the next couple of weeks as space allows. As always, news comes first.
I want to offer heartfelt thanks to others who generously contributed to making our party a reality, including our law firm Glynn Mercep and Purcell; John Tsunis, the spark plug behind both the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook and Gold Coast Bank; and our accountants, Covati &d Jahnsen. Fred Hall, the general manager of the ferry company, is himself celebrating his 40th anniversary with the company and deserves our admiration for his steady hand over those years.
And, finally, to you — our readers and advertisers — who have supported us over four decades, and to our dedicated staff, past and present, who make the newspapers and websites trustworthy sources of news week after week, my profound gratitude.
Thank you! Hope to see you at our 50th party.