North Shore street fairs are back as COVID-19 wanes

North Shore street fairs are back as COVID-19 wanes
The 2019 Williston Day Street Fair saw thousands of attendees and is one of the chamber's biggest events of the year. (Photo from the Williston Chamber of Commerce)

Street fairs are back.

Chambers of commerce and village officials in East Williston, Williston Park, New Hyde Park and Mineola have announced plans for their annual street fairs after a one-year hiatus.

The Williston Day street fair is set for September 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a rain date of the following Sunday. The fair will occupy Hillside Avenue between Willis Avenue and the East Williston Long Island Rail Road station.

“People that grew up here and moved out of state come back for it to meet their friends and family,” said Nancy Zolezzi, past president and current treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce of the Willistons. “Everybody looks forward to it and everybody really, really missed it last year.”

Also slated for September is the village-hosted New Hyde Park street fair, starting at 9 a.m. on Sept. 18. Village officials announced the event following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement lifting health restrictions statewide and a continuous decrease of new COVID-19 cases.

If village officials give their approval, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce expects to host its street fair on Oct. 10 with a rain date of Oct. 17. The event would take up both sides of Jericho Turnpike between Mineola Boulevard and Nassau Boulevard.

Citing coronavirus health precautions, the Williston Day Fair will exclude its traditional petting zoo and rides. All other programming, including a presence by fire departments from East Williston and Williston Park and a booth representing the New York Islanders hockey team, will move forward.

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While the fair promotes businesses that belong to the chamber, Zolezzi said it is also valuable to local nonprofits, some of which face financial struggles even as health restrictions begin to relax.

“It’s also a great day for the volunteer organizations — American Legion, the VFW, the fire department, the Little League, the nonprofits to get out there and let people know what they’re doing,” Zolezzi said.

In Mineola, incoming chamber of commerce President Louis Panacciulli is excited to be leading the organization and anxious to get the show on the road.

“I am just over the top,” Panacciulli said, enthusiastic about how the community will respond. “[To] get out in the fresh air, to see people without masks on their face, to spend their money and just have a good time.”

Panacciulli, who is the current director of the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra, said residents can expect Mineola business to be attending in full force “putting the tables out, handing out things and welcoming everybody back to the community.”

Mineola has not yet decided on whether to let carnival rides operate but will follow health guidance in the weeks leading up to the fair.

New Hyde Park Mayor Christopher Devane hopes his village’s fair is an indication of future events that recapture the vitality of the community. He was able to announce the fair shortly after the governor’s decision to adopt the federal government’s relaxed mask-wearing guidance in mid-May.

“I hope people come and enjoy the day and hope this is the first of many events that we can re-engage and come together as a community to enjoy each other’s company,” Devane said in an earlier interview with Blank Slate Media. “We just want people to know that we’re open again.”

Additional reporting contributed by Robert Pelaez.

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