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As COVID-19 restrictions eased, Town Board approves full slate of downtown events

Downtown Riverhead will come alive once again.

The full slate of popular downtown events — Alive on 25, the Cardboard Boat Race, Halloween parade and coffin races, among others — are coming back this year, officials say.

With state-imposed restrictions on crowd sizes being eliminated, the Riverhead Town Board on Wednesday voted to approve all the downtown events planned by the Business Improvement District Management Association. 

Almost all of the BID’s proposed events were canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

First up this year will be the return of Alive on 25 on July 1, an event that coincides with a fireworks show. The popular Alive on 25 closes downtown Main Street, features live music and vendors selling food and merchandise in the street.

Last year, Alive on 25 was replaced by Dine on 25, in which Main Street was closed to traffic to allow local restaurants to have outdoor dining in the street.

This year, the BID is planning four Alive on 25 events. It originally planned two, but businesses preferred four, Councilman Tim Hubbard said.

“Patchogue is not doing their’s this year, so the businesses felt that if they are not doing it there, maybe we can pick up some extra folks out this way,” Mr. Hubbard. “Businesses had a hard time this past year, so anything will help.” 

The Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce’s Alive After Five, which the Riverhead event was modeled after, is having only a virtual event this year.

The next Alive on 25 dates are July 15, July 29 and Aug. 12. A rain date for fireworks is July 15.

Other events planned this year include the Cardboard Boat Race on Aug. 7; a new event, Oktoberfest, planned for Sept. 25; the Halloween Fest and Coffin Races, set for Oct. 23, and the Holiday Bonfire and Parade, in conjunction with the Lion’s Club. Reflextions, an art installation in Grangebel Park, will take place during all of the events, as well as on June 19, July 17, and Aug. 14.

Mr. Hubbard said that there will be no beer pens or corrals this year, because that would result in people being crowded together. Instead, people can walk freely with an alcoholic beverage so long as they stay within the parameters of the event. 

Last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, all of the BID’s planned downtown events were canceled, as were other non-BID events in town, like the Polish Town Fair and the Riverhead Country Fair. 

In March, BIDMA president Steve Shauger and executive director Kristy Verity presented the Town Board will their proposed schedule of events, contingent on health restrictions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that New York had adopted updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that loosened the mandates on masks and social distancing, saying that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear a mask while participating in activities and no longer had to practice social distancing.

 “This is a good thing, things are opening up,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said.