Vendors, bands, entertainment and arriving visitors were all geared up for the 2017 debut of the Alive on 25 street festival this evening in downtown Riverhead, but Mother Nature had other plans.
Just before the 5:30 start time, it began to rain. Organizers, vendors and people who had arrived hoping for an evening of outdoor summer fun — many carrying umbrellas just in case — hoped for the best. Then a thunderstorm rolled in, lightning sizzling in the darkened sky and rainfall became a downpour.
“It looked good for a while,” Riverhead BID president Steven Shauger said. But then the second cell moved in with lightning and we had to call it,” he said.
Band members and their crews scurried to protect their equipment from the weather and vendors worked quickly to pack up their wares.
Then, as suddenly as it started, the rain stopped. The passing storm cooled down what had been a steamy, sweltering afternoon. Some vendors wondered aloud whether organizers had pulled the plug prematurely. But those ruminations were barely off their lips when black clouds pushed in overhead and flashes of lightning lit up the sky once more, followed by another downpour.
“We’re shooting to use the rain date on Aug. 31,” Shauger said. There are four planned festival Thursdays, once every two weeks, with one rain date for the season on Aug. 31. “We need to bounce that off everyone, but that’s the plan right now.”
Outdoor events like this are always “a crap shoot,” Shauger said.
Cancellations are rough on outside food vendors, Shauger said. “But walking along Main Street tonight, all the restaurants were packed, so it worked out well for downtown businesses.”
“Most people were in good spirits,” he said.
Among them were Sunny and Jim Liszanckie, owners of Sunny’s Rivehead Diner and Grill on East Main Street. They had set up a hot dog stand in front of their restaurant — and even sold a few dogs before the thunderstorm shut things down.
“We’ll be having some great specials on dishes made with franks in the next few days,” Sunny Liszanckie said, laughing.
Her husband said he didn’t open that many packages. “We’ll be back in two weeks,” Jim Liszanckie said. “Looking forward to it.”
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