Port residents celebrate HarborFest’s triumphant return

Port residents celebrate HarborFest’s triumphant return
On June 5, Port Washington locals gathered to celebrate HarborFest. The event returned after a two-year hiatus owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

After a two-year hiatus, Port Washington residents celebrated the return of HarborFest Sunday. 

The 30th anniversary of the yearly celebration, which takes place from lower Main Street to the Town Dock, was also recognized. Visitors could choose from over 70 vendors, visit the craft workshops or enjoy entertainment at the “Family Fun Stage.”

Bobbie Polay, executive director of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, said the excitement of the day was palpable. Despite the two-year pause because of Covid-19, she emphasized how the festival did not miss a beat in size or attendance.

“I am looking at these faces, and they’re just so happy to be here and it’s very gratifying. There’s such a great town feeling, [residents] love HarborFest,” Polay told Blank Slate Media. “It’s great for the kids. It’s great for people going to the craft show, listening to the music or coming just for the food court.”

The festival promotes Port Washington’s maritime heritage and conservation of Manhasset Bay. Yacht trips, boat tours and coastal cuisine emphasized this legacy.

But concepts of local solidarity and love for Port dominated the day.

Grassroots efforts, such as Plant A Row for the Hungry Port Washington, made use of the occasion to inspire residents. According to Marvin Makofsky, the group’s chief vegetable garden executive, the event provides crucial education.

“Most of the more than 40 volunteers that are a part of our program have come from meeting at HarborFest,” he said. “HarborFest offers an opportunity for us to explain our goals in person.”

Other leaders, such as Jeff Stone, president of Project HELP Long Island, expressed similar views. The event allowed him to help others by educating and increasing awareness about mental health and addiction.

“I met people who wanted to be professionals in the mental health field, which was really nice. And some adults, too, especially one who was in crisis mode because of her son and I gave her the number of one of our board members to assist,” he said. “It was a great informational fair.”

Although some donned face coverings, Stone, who is also a chamber member, noted that others respected their choice. He emphasized how great it was for the community to be back as one after experiencing the pandemic’s hardest days together.

“It was just a love fest, that’s all I can say: a HarborFest that turned into a love fest. Everybody’s out again, and they really enjoyed it,” Stone said. “That’s something that we can put into books and be proud of.”

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