A note about our Fourth of July Celebration
On Friday, July 1st, the Southampton Fresh Air Home held its 29th Annual Picnic with Fireworks by Grucci. Sadly, the evening was cut short by unexpectedly bad weather. What had been forecast (even late Friday afternoon) to be possible showers turned into an electrical storm and torrential downpour that lasted well past 10 pm. We determined to end the party before possible strong wind gusts and lightning threatened the safety of both guests and the many staff involved in the event.
This was extremely unfortunate for all. The SFAH invests an enormous amount of time and money into the Picnic (the fireworks alone cost almost $40,000). Income from the event is used to provide scholarships and activities for 150 physically challenged children who spend each summer with us. We are, of course, highly dependent on the weather to be able to host hundreds of people outside on Meadow Lane. Usually, the Picnic is a magical evening with a family BBQ and a fantastic fireworks display. Weather has occasionally impacted the event, but never to the extent that occurred last week.
It is always tough to postpone the evening. The decision must be made at least 36 hours before the Picnic and often guests who have purchased tickets have other plans on the alternate date. In 2014, when a hurricane threatened, we did indeed move to a later date and it was still a wonderful but much less well attended party.
This year, the weather outlook for Friday (and our rain date Sunday) was for possible scattered showers. We determined to move forward with the scheduled date.
When we take this decision, many parties move into action- Fireworks by Grucci, Robbins Wolfe Catering, Event Kings (who provide entertainment), the party rental company, the Village and Town of Southampton police and fire departments, and others. Reversing course once the parts are set into motion becomes almost impossible.
At one point Friday evening, as the weather rapidly deteriorated, we explored the possibility of delaying the fireworks until Sunday. However, because of safety and logistical issues involved in returning the barge to land and unloading the explosives in an electrical storm, there was no choice but to set off the fireworks that evening. All who saw them confirmed that they were indeed spectacular, even as the storm raged.
We want to thank everyone who bought tickets to the event and in particular, our chairs and benefactors whose support is critical to underwriting the cost of the Picnic. In addition, we thank the town and village of Southampton, whose police and fire departments ensure the safety of all. Thank you to Mayor Epley who did indeed come to the party (and got very wet, as did many guests). Thank you to Robbins Wolfe Catering, who ultimately fed a small but happy group under the catering tent and even provided take away containers to those who wanted to eat at home. Thank you to Fireworks by Grucci whose people worked bravely in the dark bay setting off the fireworks on a stormy night. Thank you also to Danielle and David Ganek who have generously allowed SFAH to hold the Picnic at their home for 14 years. A special thank you to our Executive Director Tom Naro and the SFAH staff who work tirelessly for months to organize this special party, and on Friday worked late into the wet night to manage a challenging situation.
The SFAH is an extraordinary place for the disabled children who spend each summer with us, irrespective of each family’s ability to pay. The Picnic is not only a beloved Southampton tradition with a fireworks display enjoyed by the whole town, it also provides essential funding to the camp. Despite the challenges of this year’s event, we have had 29 Picnics and we hope to continue hosting this wonderful evening for many years in the future. We are deeply grateful for the support we have received and the goodwill shown to us by so many in the community. We are looking forward to our 30th Annual American Picnic with Fireworks in 2017.
Catherine Kuehn Price
Southampton Fresh Air Home