River cleanup and mac ‘n’ cheese challenge
This year’s Patchogue River Cleanup will be followed by a mac ‘n’ cheese challenge at Drift 82.

File photo

River cleanup and mac ‘n’ cheese challenge



The third annual Fire Island National Seashore Patchogue River Cleanup will be followed by, for the first time this year, a mac ‘n’ cheese challenge hosted by Drift 82.

The cleanup will begin on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. and last until about noon. A volunteer signup and check-in will be held at the Patchogue Watch Hill Ferry Terminal at 150 West Avenue, where supplies and light refreshments will be provided.

FINS park planner Kaetlyn Jackson, Drift 82 owner John Sarno’s sister-in-law, said the cleanup usually draws about 100 volunteers and though the trash collected in the first year wasn’t weighed, last year’s event, which was cut short due to rain, collected over 550 pounds of garbage.

“We are really excited about this year and hope that the challenge will be an incentive for more people to come out and clean the community,” she said, also happy to have a new source of revenue to support the cleanup next year.

In years past, she explained, the cleanup was mostly funded by donations for supplies such as gloves, water, garbage bags and pickup tools. 

“We have done the best we could in the past, but this year we are looking forward to getting more out of the event and partnering with Drift 82,” she added.

The mac ‘n’ cheese challenge will commence at 12 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 82 Brightwood Street. The challenge, which will showcase about 15 different mac ‘n’ cheeses made by local restaurants, including but not limited to The Oar, Tap Room, That Meetball Place, Village Idiot Pub and Locale, was the creation of Sarno, who also owns Village Idiot Pub. 

“It’s a great cause and we are hoping to add this component to the annual event,” he said. “[Plus], who doesn’t love mac ‘n’ cheese?”

Drift and VIP’s recipe is a secret, he said, for now. 

For a $10 donation, or $5 for volunteers, participants will be able to taste all the dishes and vote for their favorite. There will also be raffles, educational activities and live music. All the proceeds will go to next year’s Patchogue River Cleanup.

Restaurants interested in participating can contact drift82@yahoo.com or call 631-714-4950 and are asked to arrive by 11 a.m. for setup. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/FIIS/PLANYOURVISIT/CALENDAR.HTM or contact Jackson at 631-687-4770 or by email at kaetlyn_jackson@NPS.gov.