Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 07 August 2009 00:00
This season, the constant intermittent rain the area has been having has affected the Tuesday Cruise Nights. On July 7, rain on the South Shore kept many of the participants away as the event opened slowly. “It must be raining on the South Shore,” said Michele Browner, Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce secretary and one of the Cruise Nights crew. Actually, the Southern State Parkway wasn’t moving all the way to Hicksville and was closed in some areas because of the flooding.
“It’s going to be a great night. The weather cleared and they are coming,” said Paula Fox as she sat on a bench in front of Canterbury Ales. Mark Fox is the proprietor and she was giving out discount tickets advertising the oyster house restaurant.
Walking around with her family, Cindy Mudford of English Country Flowers said, “We’re lucky to have Cruise Nights here.” A positive view in spite of the fact that this season had a slow beginning.
Upstairs at 20 Audrey Avenue, Rachel Meyer of Active Motion looked out of her second-floor window. “It’s not as busy as it usually is. Usually by this time it’s packed.”
Carmine Pirollo of White Birch Design, another of the Cruise Nights crew, said, “It rained every Tuesday night this year. It was drizzling when I got here but now it’s great.” He was at the entrance to Audrey Avenue, letting the cars through the barrier and collecting the fee.
One of the great assets of Cruise Nights is that it includes a free concert for visitors. The opening act was Gail Storm, singer, on the synthesizer, accompanied on the sax by Shinole Lattimer. She had a great rapport with her listeners and keyed to music to the event saying, “I think we should take a little trip down Route 66.”
Her strong night club voice entertained the crowd, warming the audience up for the appearance of Richie Cannata, Billy Joel’s saxophone player. He was expected to draw a big crowd and he did. People gathered around the band set up listening to their music.
Besides Richie Cannata, there was on piano Chris Clark, who plays at the Bitter End; Jim Moran on rhythm guitar; Frosty on trumpet; George Panos on the base guitar; Kevin Briganti on the drums. They were joined later by Roxy Perry, a lady blues singer and Eren Cannata, Richie’s son who also sang that night.
Austin Azzaretto knows all the musicians who come to play in Oyster Bay during Cruise Nights. “I go every week into the city and I know these guys. They are my friends,” said Austin. “On July 14, the place was packed. Racket played. They are a rock band. We have a little bit of everything,” he said.
The next week the weather really improved. “This past week, July 14 we had marvelous weather and we had a fantastic turnout. There were about 250 cars,” said Paige Dawson, a regular at the event. “Tuesday night they just kept coming. Usually most of our traffic is before 5:30 p.m. but this time they were still coming after 8 p.m. They were probably waiting with baited breath because we had such bad weather this month, before they finally decided to come.
“We worked our backs off. We have a small core of people who come each week, besides Austin Azzaretto who chairs the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce event.
“There is Bob Basta, who is there just about every week. Me, of course, and some paid young people who help give out handouts and help clean up afterward, as well as setting up. There is also Les Schachter of Memecrafter, who comes out often. He is one of our relied-upon volunteers who helps at the top of Audrey Avenue where the cars come in. And there is Carmine Pirolo of White Birch Design, and Sally Robilotto of Aflac Insurance, together we make up our core group.
“And we had a guest appearance by Bob Martin. He came down this past week to help and that was nice. Best of all, in the 50/50 we gave away $225. The chamber’s part of the 50/50 goes toward funding all the things we do such as putting up the holiday snowflakes; and putting flowers in the baskets and planters; and for the scholarship donation.
“We have lots of volunteers putting up the flowers but we have to buy the product,” she said.
The car show is really wonderful, she said. “It started in the CVS parking lot on Pine Hollow and then gravitated here, and it has been the perfect place for it. Come down and visit. I’m there 22 weeks out of the year.”