A beach day for the Spanish community
Fire Island National Seashore welcomes area Latinos to come and enjoy the beach
Thirty percent of the Patchogue population is made up of Latino residents. Many have never been to Fire Island and, according to Fire Island National Seashore superintendent Alexcy Romero, believe the sprawling beach island made up of over 17 communities is solely open to people with second homes. However, he said, as many know, that is not the case. Fire Island is a hotspot for day-trippers, with resources expanding beyond the beach towns with multiple parks.
To combat this misconception and serve an underserved population, for the third year in a row the Friends of Fire Island National Seashore, co-sponsored by FINS, will be hosting a Latino Conservation Day, in which the Spanish community in Patchogue and the surrounding areas are invited to a free day on Fire Island.
In previous years, the event had been held at Sailors Haven, however, by making the switch to Watch Hill they are hoping to see over 250 attendees.
“It’s an opportunity to share what’s special about Fire Island with the local community and invite all to become stewards,” Romero said. “There will be family fun ranger programs throughout the day and a beautiful lifeguarded beach.”
The event, Friends of Fire Island president David Hensen said, was created in an effort to celebrate the National Parks-designated Latino Heritage week, scheduled for the third week of July.
“We really wanted to improve relations between our local Latino community and the Caucasian community on Fire Island,” he said, hoping to peak interest in re-visiting the beach or a possible career in conservation.
Ferry rides are included and will start at 9:45 a.m. From there, attendees will be given a bay-to-beach boardwalk tour with a park ranger, a surf rescue demonstration, a catch of the day aquatic life seminar and a seaside craft session. Spanish translators will also be on hand to help non- or limited-English speakers throughout the course of the day.
A potluck picnic lunch will also be held.
“Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share. It’s a great way to share and celebrate our culture and experience the beautiful national park in the backyard,” added Romero. “It’s really important for those who have never been there before to take advantage of this opportunity to come and visit.”
All are welcome, but they must register prior to the Saturday, July 20 event at fireislandlcd.eventbrite.com. Ferries will leave out of the Watch Hill Ferry Terminal located at 150 West Avenue in Patchogue. Parking is free.
Can’t go? Soon you can grab a pass
The Friends of Fire Island National Seashore is currently working on supplying a day pass for the ferry at Pat-Med Library. Regular round-trip tickets, out of the Watch Hill Ferry Terminal, are about $17.
“The largest hindrance is transportation,” Hensen said, explaining that the beach itself is free, but a ferry ride can be costly.
This summer, he said, he hopes they will be able to provide a day pass for a family of four, two children, or at least two adult tickets. Children’s tickets are about $11 round-trip.
To support the effort, he suggests those interested in donating become sponsors. Sponsorships of the event range from $100-$2,500. All the proceeds will go toward funding the pass. To become a sponsor or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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