Organizers are getting ready to light the bonfire for the town’s 15th annual holiday bonfire.
The celebration begins at 4 p.m. on the Peconic Riverfront, where Santa will arrive by boat at approximately 5 p.m. to light the town’s Christmas tree and visit with children in his gingerbread house, said Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association, which hosts the event along with the Town of Riverhead.
There will be free candy canes, hot cocoa and cookies provided by the BIDMA and free pictures with Santa, Councilman James Wooten said. A DJ will play Christmas music and people are invited to sing along, said Wooten, who emcees the event each year.
At approximately 7 p.m. there will be a special fireworks display — a first for the community bonfire event. Downtown fireworks got rained out twice this year. The fireworks will be shot off from inside Grangebel Park for viewing from the bonfire site.
No rain is in the forecast tonight, though. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures falling into the mid- to upper-30s this evening.
There was some confusion today about the time of the fireworks display. The town put out a press release on Nov. 19 stating the fireworks would take place at 8 p.m., the traditional conclusion of the event. But the BIDMA, which is sponsoring the fireworks, had advertised the start-time of the pyrotechnics show as 7 p.m.
“We don’t want people waiting with their kids for too long to see the fireworks,” Pickersgill said today.
Wooten said Santa is usually visiting with kids right up until the end of the evening, anyway. “We don’t want kids to miss the fireworks because they’re in line to see Santa Claus,” he said. “I guess we’ll play it by ear and if Santa still has a line at 7, we’ll hold off on the fireworks until he’s done.” Wooten said he will make an announcement over the loudspeaker this evening.
“It’s going to be a nice night and with a roaring fire to stand around, it will be very pleasant,” the councilman said.
The bonfire usually consumes five to six cords of wood, which is purchased by the town.
The event is dedicated to the memory of Loretta Trojanowski, a Riverhead Town employee who was a member of the town’s bonfire committee and worked very hard to make the event a success, Wooten said. Trojanowski passed away in 2013 at age 58 after a battle with cancer.
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