The New Hyde Park Village Board had been carefully observing the radar Saturday morning, watching a band of brightly colored dots move across Long Island and headed right for Jericho Turnpike and the 18th annual village street fair.
Earlier before the start of the fair, mayor Robert Lofaro had told a small group of people in front of the village hall that he had hoped the rain would hold off for the fair.
“It was just a very narrow band that came up right up from the south shore right to the street right over us,” New Hyde Park Deputy Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said. “A lot of the merchants were complaining that we should shut down and re-engage next week.”
The village wanted to avoid using the rain date at all costs, not only for the additional expenses which would have been incurred due to overtime for village crews, police, and the closure of Jericho Turnpike again for merchants, but also it would have meant canceling the New Hyde Park Memorial High School homecoming parade scheduled for Sept. 28 as well.
The rain did end up coming, lasting for about a five-minute span when the fair first began at about 10:45 a.m., dropping enough water to send patrons scattering and merchants scrambling to cover their wares.
“This was the only one where we had a real significant rain,” Montreuil said, noting the 17-year streak of relative dryness and amicable weather conditions.
“We saw that it was going to stop in five minutes and sure enough in about five minutes,” craft fair president Tony Ciuffo said.
“I think overall it was a great success,” Montreuil said. “The rain was a little dampener but what was really neat was right after the rain stopped the crowds came out pretty fast. That tells me that a lot of local people came out and were just waiting to enjoy the street fair.”
This year the fair boasted a total of 138 sidewalk participants, comprised of village merchants, charities, school fundraisers, service groups and chamber of commerce members. For the first time, the children’s carnival in the Central Boulevard parking lot across from village hall was expanded to include additional rides and the newest feature was a petting zoo located on Lakeville Road, courtesy of Green Meadows Farm.
“I think it was somewhat comparable,” Montreuil said of crowds at previous years’ fairs. “At one o’clock the crowds that were here were about the same as they usually are.”
Typically the village street fair draws about 20,000 people from the village and surrounding areas. While an exact estimate was not available, organizers said the number of pedestrians was on par with previous years, though a bit lower because of the weather.
“The rain didn’t help but even with the rain the crowd, I don’t say was comparable, but was highly respectable,” Ciuffo said. “May not have reached the peak of previous years because of the rain, but when I looked down and saw the crowd I was very pleased.”