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Riverhead BID plans LED light display, bench dedication in memory of Ray Pickersgill

The Riverhead Business Improvement District is planning a tribute to Ray Pickersgill, the former president of the BID Management Association, who died in April at the age of 71.

Mr. Pickersgill was the BIDMA president from 2010 to 2016 and a BIDMA member from 2007 to 2016 and has been credited with reviving much of downtown.

During his time with the BIDMA, Mr. Pickersgill helped establish a number of popular events in downtown Riverhead.

These included Cardboard Boat Race, the indoor Farmers Market, Alive on 25, the Fourth of July fireworks show and concerts, the antique car show, and the Edgar Allan Poe Festival, which is now called the Halloween Fest. 

The plan the BIDMA is currently working on would be an LED light display in the walkway just east of Twin Forks bikes that would have different color lights shining down, and white lights at the entrances.

It would be tribute to Mr. Pickersgill as well as an art installation, and it would also have a security function by lighting up the walkway, according to Steve Shauger, the current BIDMA president.

“It’s a nice little tribute to Ray because he definitely did a lot for downtown,” he said. 

Mr. Pickerskill often sought to get better street lights downtown.

One time, he counted all the lights that were out in Grangebel Park, Main Street and the downtown parking lots, his daughter Lisa said. 

“He was concerned that it wasn’t safe enough,” she said. 

The BIDMA also in planning to name a bench by the riverfront in Mr. Pickersgill’s honor.

“Ray was a great guy and he really was the impetus to the downtown revitalization,” said former Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter in an interview following Mr. Pickersgill’s death. 

Lisa Pickersgill said her family is “absolutely” in favor of the plans to honor her father.

“Anything they do in memory of my father, we’re definitely in favor off,” she said. “He worked very hard for everything.”

Lisa and her mother, Margaret, continue to run the business Mr. Pickersgill owned on Main Street — Robert James Salon — since 2004. He also was on the Riverhead Parking District Advisory Board, and the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization.

Almost all of the work he did for the town was as a volunteer. 

Mr. Pickersgill and his daughter and wife owned hair salons in Port Jefferson Station and Miller Place before opening the Riverhead location, his daughter said. But that wasn’t his background.

“My dad wasn’t a hairdresser,” his daughter said. “He owned a junkyard, he had a body shop, and he had his own construction company.”

The junkyard, she said, “was his dream.”

Lisa said she originally wanted to be a mechanic, as she used to work in the junkyard with her father. 

“But he didn’t want me to be a mechanic,” she said. That’s when she went to BOCES to become a hairdresser.

Her father discovered Riverhead while selling tow trucks here, she said, and eventually, Ray, Lisa and Margaret all went to work at Robert James Salon in Riverhead. 

“We’re very, very happy that people have recognized my father’s efforts, because he did so much and everything he did was for the betterment of the town,” Lisa said. “Even when the salon had to close because of downtown events, he felt it was for the greater good.”