Hundreds of people turned out to enjoy the blazing bonfire, hot chocolate and cookies on the Peconic Riverfront for Riverhead’s 15th Annual Holiday Bonfire.  This year, the event was capped off with a spectacular fireworks display — thanks to rainouts of two previously scheduled fireworks shows this.

As always, Santa arrived by boat to light the town Christmas tree and visit with kids of all ages in the gingerbread house the Riverhead BID had specially made for the bonfire events a few years ago.

Councilman James Wooten was the event’s emcee, traveling through the crowd with a wireless microphone and greeting Santa’s boat on the town dock.  Volunteers served up free hot cocoa and cookies as a DJ filled the air with Christmas music.

“I think this is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” said Ed Densieski, one of the event’s originators. Densieski,  Ray Dickhoff and Gary Joyce built and tended the bonfire, which consumed more than three cords of wood.

“In all this was a very nice night and a fun family occasion,” Riverhead BID president Raymond Pickersgill said.

There were a few tense moments on the dock right after Santa’s arrival, when one onlooker slipped off the dock and into the river as she snapped pictures of Santa. The woman, a 64-year-old Florida resident visiting her daughter, was pulled from the chilly water by quick-acting bystanders. Fortunately, she did not seem to suffer serious injury. She was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for evaluation. See separate story.


RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti


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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.