Fireworks, rescue at the BID’s annual downtown Holiday Bonfire

The Riverhead BID's annual Holiday Bonfire was held downtown Saturday evening.
The Riverhead BID’s annual Holiday Bonfire was held downtown Saturday evening.

This time, rain did not cancel the downtown Riverhead fireworks show, as it had done twice before this year.

But there was still some unintended excitement at Saturday’s annual Holiday Bonfire, as a woman looking to get a closer look at Santa as he got off his boat, fell into the Peconic River at a time when the outside temperature was in the 30s. 

The 64-year-old woman, whose name was not released,  was quickly helped out of the water by other attendees of the event, and she was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for observation, though police says she’s expected to be OK.


Kevin Fleming of Flanders, one of the people who helped get the woman out of the water, said he and about three or four other pulled her to safety.

“She was in for about one second,” said Chris Keating of Manhattan, another of the woman’s rescuers. “She was in good spirits and she even made a joke.”

At the time, it was no laughing matter.

“We heard a plunge and we didn’t know if it was a kid or what,” said Neil Marion of Monroe, N.Y., who was with Mr. Keating and also helped in the rescue.

The event went smoothly otherwise, with children lining up to meet Santa Claus inside the Business Improvement District’s Gingerbread House and people listening to Christmas songs by the bonfire, which was set up along the river behind the former Sears store.

The fireworks show by Bay Fireworks was originally scheduled to be part of the BID’s Fourth of July celebration and then October’s Edgar Allan Poe Festival, but was rained out both times.

The 15-minute fireworks show was launched from Grangebel Park.