The Freeport Nautical Mile Festival is reportedly back on for June, one week after village officials said they were canceling it, citing public safety concerns for the popular event that draws tens of thousands of people to the village each year.
Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick announced after a public forum that the festival is back on in June, according to News 12, but its unclear why village officials changed their mind.
The village held the public forum Thursday night at the Freeport Recreation Center, where nearly a dozen residents—most in favor of moving the festival to the fall—addressed the mayor and the village’s board of trustees, after Hardwick sent a letter to residents saying the “Mayor and Board of Trustees have decided that the festival will not take place this June.”
“It’s not something we created,” Hardwick said during the forum, “and we’re not going to be able to get rid of it.”
The festival traditionally brings in more than 50,000 visitors, who come for a carnival during the day and food vendors scattered throughout the waterfront.
But some residents felt that festival has outlived its original intent, which was to provide a family-oriented event for Freeport residents, and to bring attention to restaurants on the mile that runs along Woodcleft Canal.
The festival, some argued, has turned Freeport into “college city” when the sun goes down, making it an overcrowded bar crawl, ignited by disobedient drinkers who litter the neighborhood with beer bottles; forcing residents to clean up their property the next morning.
“Once the sun goes down,” one resident said, “those family people go home to put their families to bed.”
Freeport public safety officials, including the heads of the Freeport Fire Department and the Freeport Police Department, also suggested moving the festival to the fall, citing concerns about congestion and the delay in response time in responding to emergencies. Some residents also called for a much toned-down festival either in September or October.
“My resources are taxed,” said Miguel Bermudez, the police chief.
Frank Rizzo, who runs a charter boat business, said the festival should be held on Columbus Day, to alleviate the stress on cops and fireman.
“It’s a lot more than they can chew,” he added, referring to public safety officials.
Others argued to find a way to make it work in June, so people can see Freeport in the summer, when the streets are buzzing and businesses are in full bloom.
“I think we need to find a better way to make it work in June,” said Thea Tremsky, who lives several blocks from the Nautical Mile. “Because people want to come see Freeport, and they want to come to Freeport when it’s warm out.”
“It’s two days a year,“ she added. “What does it bring to Freeport? Our little community opens its doors up once a year for people to come down and see what we’re all about.”
The festival, which used to be a three-day event, was shortened to one day last year.
“Freeport needs to make it happen,“ Philip Silvers, 45, said of keeping the festival alive. “We have businesses down there that need the money.“