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Duck Pond Day

Tents traditionally line Shoreham’s Duck Pond during the annual festivities. File photo by Kyle Barr
By Sofia Levorchick

On the hot, sunlit, summery day of Sunday, June 11, many gathered at the Wading River Duck Pond on North Country Road to partake in the annual Duck Pond Day hosted by the Shoreham-Wading River Chamber of Commerce. 

People from all across Long Island browsed a diverse array of vendors ranging from small businesses to nonprofit organizations while also getting a bite to eat at local restaurants or food trucks. As many as 80 vendors attended throughout the event.

The head coordinator, Samantha Nagorski of R.E.N. Design Company, a store situated just in front of the duck pond, has managed this event for six years, devoting six months to its organization annually.

The primary purpose of Duck Pond Day is “to get the community together to just celebrate the beautiful pond,” Nagorski said. And it has consistently drawn a significant turnout every year. 

“Even with rainfall,” she added, “we still have our community come out in droves.” 

The success of Duck Pond Day can be attributed to its tradition, Nagorski explained. 

“People love the deep history and grew up with it over the 30 years of it going on. You came here as a kid, and now you’re bringing your kids to it.” 

‘Even with rainfall, we still have our community come out in droves.’

— Samantha Nagorski

The tradition initially stemmed from the community’s search for resources to clean up debris from the pond. After gaining town approval and support approximately 15 years ago, the event has expanded and flourished into what it is today. As attendees strolled around, smiles spread across their faces as they caught the delectable aroma of funnel cakes and enjoyed the sounds of live music. The vendors enthusiastically engaged with customers, diffusing joy with every transaction. 

However, the vendors’ roles extended beyond selling products. For instance, the Shoreham-Wading River Special Education PTA used the opportunity to promote awareness for the organization’s cause, encouraging volunteer sign-ups and donations. 

This year was their first time at Duck Pond Day, and one of the PTA volunteers expressed her appreciation. “This is an amazing community event, and everyone has been so friendly and happy,” she said.

The event puts a substantial emphasis on supporting small businesses, such as Etsy shops, community businesses and student-run shops, generating opportunities to promote and sell products, build clientele and strengthen the local economy. The festival also allows for much more as community connections often emanate from Duck Pond Day.

The event works to catalyze collaboration, networking and support within the community, empowering entrepreneurs and encouraging a sense of pride in the unique offerings and talents of Long Island.

“Duck Pond Day is something where the community really comes together,” a graphic designer from True Artistic Media (T.A.M) said. “It’s just a great event for everyone. Everyone is so pleasant, and everyone is having fun.”

Duck Pond Day at the Wading River Duck Pond has established itself as a cherished and highly anticipated annual tradition for showcasing the strong sense of community within Shoreham-Wading River and across Long Island. This vibrant event not only supports local businesses and offers a platform for various vendors but also fosters meaningful connections among community members. 

By celebrating the beauty of the pond and bringing people together, Duck Pond Day has transcended its role as a simple gathering, serving as a reminder to locals of the importance of cultivating a strong community spirit and coming together to celebrate and promote small businesses.

Locals were out in force June 2 for the 25th annual Duck Pond Day, and though there was a conspicuous lack of fowl in the pond, visitors got to have a taste of music from the Jan Hanna Band, pet young calves and goats at a stand by Bakewicz farms and check out the wares of a multitude of local vendors.

Hosted by the Wading River Shoreham Chamber of Commerce, events started at 8:30 with a 5K run, where the $1,500 raised from the run was donated to the Fight Like a Girl Army, a Wading River based nonprofit that fundraises for breast cancer research and local scholarships.

The Shoreham-Wading River Chamber of Commerce hosted the 24th annual Duck Pond Day June 3.

The event included a parade, games and activities, vendors, food and drinks from local chamber businesses.

Man of the Year Rob Nasta, owner of My Creperie in Wading River, was honored for his hard work and dedication and his military service.

Duck Pond Day was started by the civic association as part of a wetlands coastline cleanup effort. The task of sprucing up the ponds turned into a community day where volunteers clean up and then put down their rakes and set up picnics around the ponds. A few years later, the parade was added and as the years passed, Duck Pond Day turned into an annual full-day event.

North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce is was in charge of the historic train car on the corner of Route 347 and Route 112. The Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce will take over responsibility of it. File photo by Elana Glowatz

By Desirée Keegan

Plans for the future of businesses formerly joined under the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce are coming into focus in the wake of the organization’s dissolution.

The North Brookhaven chamber is disbanding, leaving behind smaller chambers for area communities, an idea that already existed before the formation of the now dissolved chamber. Wading River, Shoreham, Rocky Point, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson Station and Terryville originally had businesses forming smaller chambers before the lack of membership forced the groups to consolidate.

Many point to Port Jefferson Station business owner Jennifer Dzvonar as the reason the nine year North Brookhaven chamber has remained afloat. Dzvonar will head up the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce.

“We were losing membership because we were too spread out and some of our members were concerned,” said Carol Genua of Coach Realtors in Mount Sinai. “What Jen did is phenomenal and for her to do it that long I can’t even comprehend how much time she had to put in, and her husband and kids were even helping out.”

Barbara Ransome, president of Brookhaven Chambers of Commerce Coalition, which represents almost 20 town chambers who is also director of operations for the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce in the village, said she thinks the group made the right decision to reorganize its efforts.

“We all sat around the table saying, ‘OK, what’s the next move?’” she said. “There was a strong consensus that there needed to be some level of consolidation. I’m very happy that Jen is not dropping out. She’s trying her very best, she’s the glue that’s keeping it together right now.”

Ransome said smaller membership will mean less money, so the chambers will have to be frugal in their operating budgets.

“People will volunteer when it is beneficial to them and their business, which, often times, will be within their direct surrounding area town,” Dzvonar said in an email. “Many are just too busy trying to keep their local business alive. Chain stores, big box stores, online shopping and outsourcing are what is killing local businesses. However, the small local businesses are the ones supporting the communities and donating to the fundraisers in the schools and other local organizations, with minimal loyalty from the consumers.”

Some are concerned the same issues may arise with the new arrangement as the ones that plagued the larger chamber.

“What happens is a lot of merchants join, but don’t take part in the work that needs to be done — people don’t realize it,” said Millie Thomas, of Landmark Realty in Wading River, who used to belong to the Rocky Point chamber when she owned a business there before joining the Wading River-Shoreham Chamber of Commerce prior to it combining with the North Brookhaven chamber. “What happens is a lot of people want to join the chamber, they pay their dues and they get their name out on the brochures, but when it comes time to do all the work it seems the same specific people do it every year and it gets overwhelming, because we’re all running businesses and trying to do all of these things too.”

Thomas used the example of Wading River’s Duck Pond Day to make her point.

The realtor said putting together the event, which started as a wetlands coastline cleanup effort at the pond and has grown into a picnic following the cleanup with vendors, a parade and a 5K walk/run, takes a lot of time. She has to go to the town and fill out paperwork and pay fees for permits when needed, contact two different police departments to close off the roads, gather vendors, organize everyone involved in the parade and get sponsors whose names go on T-shirts.

“Someone needs to get involved to make all of these things happen — they don’t happen by themselves,” Thomas said.

Genua, who will be working with Donna Boeckel of Awsomotive Car Care to start up the Mount Sinai chamber, which may include Miller Place businesses, agreed that part of the problem was trying to support everything from Port Jefferson Station to Wading River. She’s hoping the step back in time will help regrow a better base of home businesses in hopes of recharging that community connection.

Genua is currently working on creating a list of all of the businesses in the area to make contact with, and already has reached out to local fish markets, restaurants, cleaners and the new Heritage Pharmacy drug store to generate more interest and enrollment. She said she is hoping to bring in local parent teacher organizations and even Heritage Park to create a chamber more entrenched in the community.

“We want to try a new way to get businesses involved,” she said. “We all still have to support each other. My husband had his own business for a while and it’s hard to compete with the big box companies. We want to keep our money local instead of it going out of state. We’re also neighbors. The people who live here, work here, or a lot of them.”

Marie Stewart of Brooklyn Bagels will be pushing forward with her already in existence Rocky Point local business owners group and is welcoming chamber members from Rocky Point and Sound Beach. Dzvonar will lead the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville chamber with help from Sheila Wieber of Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Diane Jensen of Teachers Federal Credit Union. Thomas will be reforming the Shoreham-Wading River chamber once again. All of which will take place in the new year.

“If you have the heart of a volunteer, it’s well worth it,” Thomas said. “Helping to adopt a family and provide relief to a single mom with four kids, or to see children and their families getting excited when Santa is coming down the street on the fire truck, it’s very rewarding. It is a lot of work, but sometimes people get caught up with their daily routine and don’t want to volunteer, and that’s the problem.”

Alex Petroski contributed reporting