Jamesport celebrates Independence Day with socially distant ceremony

COVID-19 canceled parades and fireworks across Long Island, but it couldn’t stop the Greater Jamesport Civic Association from hosting its second Independence Day celebration.

The group, which launched last year what it hopes will grow to become an annual event, received a permit from Riverhead Town to host a socially distant celebration Saturday.

About a dozen local residents joined a handful of elected officials and other community leaders for the 20-minute ceremony at the George Young Community Center Saturday morning. Attendance was limited to just 25 people due to the coronavirus.

“Today we remember a group of patriots who did something unprecedented for their time,” newly elected civic association president Patrick Derenze said of America’s Founding Fathers. “They declared that it should be the people who make the decisions and not those born into royalty, wealth and privilege.”

Mr. Derenze addresses the crowd. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Mr. Derenze noted that the celebration is the only public event of its kind in the Town of Riverhead.

“You should be proud of what you’ve been able to do under such unique circumstances,” he told this year’s organizers.

Following a presentation of the colors, the audience participated in a group singalong of both the National Anthem and God Bless America, something they bravely did without the backing of a band or choir this year.

“Whitney Houston, I’m not,” joked John Newman, who both led the singalong and emceed the event.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar at Saturday’s Fourth of July event. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Old Steeple Community Church Pastor the Rev. Dr. Anton DeWet delivered an invocation in which he prayed for health care workers who have sacrificed so much to treat others suffering the effects of COVID-19. On a personal note, the Rhodesian-born pastor was celebrating 22 years as a U.S. citizen Saturday.

“It’s a very, very special day for my family and myself,” he said.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar — who was joined at the celebration by fellow Riverhead Town Board members Jodi Giglio, Catherine Kent and Frank Beyrodt — also delivered remarks, noting that Fourth of July is a day to put partisan politics aside.

“We are here to commemorate the men and women who served in our Armed Forces and offered the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “There are no words to describe how grateful we are for our soldiers who served in the past, the present and the future, and our Founding Fathers who created our country.”