Riverhead BID unveils plans for 2024 events

The Riverhead Business Improvement District (BID) is seeking to move the location of its annual Halloween “coffin races” from Griffing Avenue to Main Street this fall, according to executive director Kristy Verity.

Ms. Verity discussed the BID’s plans for other changes as well at last Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session. 

In 2017, the coffin races’ first year, the event was moved from Griffing Avenue to Heidi Behr Way, along the riverfront, due to heavy rain the previous day. Subsequent races ran on Griffing Avenue, along the Supreme Court, where spectators can sit on the steps. 

Now, Ms. Verity told board members, the BID would like to move the races to East Main Street. 

“It was great on Griffing , because we have the courthouse steps, but it presents a lot of challenges,” she explained, noting that people who attend the coffin races could miss out on the start of trick-or-treating on Main Street.

Last year was the first time Main Street was closed to traffic to allow trick or treating, and the BID hopes to continue that. 

Ms. Verity said they are proposing to move the coffin races to East Main Street, starting in front of Star Confectionery and moving east.

The police department wants to leave Peconic Avenue and Roanoke Avenue open, while having a traffic control officer help people cross the street, Ms. Verity said. 

“It would be nice to keep everyone in one place,” she said. 

“We just have to be mindful because they have been doing a lot of construction on Main Street,” Supervisor Tim Hubbard said. “That road is pretty choppy right now, although they are going to repave it.”

Still, Mr. Hubbard said, he likes the new location. 

“It makes all the sense in the world,” he said. “That way, one [event] can flow right into the next and nobody is missing out anything.”

Among other BID event changes Ms. Verity discussed, there will be two “Alive on 25” events downtown this year instead of four, as in previous years. The first will take place July 5, and will include a fireworks show. That event has always between very popular, and usually fills downtown. The second “Alive on 25” will be Aug. 9 — without fireworks. 

“I like the fact that ‘Alive on 25’ has been brought down to two dates,” Mr. Hubbard said. “I think you’re going have two really hugely attended programs doing it that way. Before, it kind of watered it down. I think you’re going to see that each of these will be like the fireworks show.” 

Ms. Verity said that having the four events was a drain on the town’s resources. She said this allows the BID to work with other events being held downtown. 

The other big change she presented called for changing the annual holiday bonfire from one large pit to multiple smaller pits that can be placed in locations like the Town Square or East End Arts Council. 

Other BID events proposed for 2024 include the cardboard boat race, co-hosted with the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce. This year’s date will be Aug. 3, with a rain date of Aug. 17.

Also scheduled are the Oktoberfest on Oct. 5; the Halloween Festival — including the coffin races, trick-or-treating and a parade — on Oct. 19; four “Art in the Park” events in Grangebel Park; and a Holiday Parade and Santa House on Dec. 14 on Main Street and along the riverfront. 

Officials said it’s not clear how far along work on the downtown Town Square will be by the time some of the events are scheduled.

Councilwoman Joann Waski noted that the Aug. 17 rain date proposed for the cardboard boat race is the same date as the recently-approved Polish Town Fair and Festival.

Ms. Verity said the police have been given the dates for both events to determine if there is a conflict.