Screenshot from video by Katie Morosky

The crowds were out for Independence Day, despite the cancellation of a number of traditional Fourth of July events in the local area due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shoppers eager to get back into stores after months of deprivation due to the mandated COVID-19 shutdown, clogged Route 58. Visitors to local farms, breweries and wineries created a pretty typical traffic jam on Sound Avenue. Things got busy on Friday, when many people had a day off for the holiday, which fell on a Saturday. In some ways, the holiday weekend seemed almost like any other, despite the pandemic.

But there were no official fireworks displays, which were canceled due to the large crowds these events typically draw. The Peconic Riverfront and downtown Riverhead usually attract thousands of people to view the pyrotechnics display hosted by the town and the Riverhead Business Management Association.

Fireworks on the L.I. Sound beach in Wading River Video: Katie Morosky

There were plenty of illegal fireworks lighting up the after-dark skies from one end of town to the other, however. Riverhead Town Police were bombarded late into the night with fireworks and noise complaints from residents, Chief David Hegermiller said this morning.

There were no injuries reported in Riverhead, Hegermiller said.

Suffolk Police reported a serious injury in Port Jefferson Station where a 29-year-old man attempted to light a “mortar-style firework” at a backyard family gathering at about 10 p.m. and the device exploded, striking him in the face and causing serious injury to one of his eyes. He was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment, police said.

In another incident, discarded fireworks in a garbage can near a house in North Patchogue set fire to the side of the structure last night shortly after 11 p.m. The fire burned the siding an an exterior wall. Volunteer firefighters responded to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported.

Greater Jamesport Civic Association president Patrick Derenze, left, Councilman Frank Beyrodt, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, the Rev. Dr. Anton DeWet, Councilwoman Catherine Kent, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Riverhead VFW Post Commander Tom Najdzion and Jamesport Fire Commissioner John Newman. Courtesy photo: Joan Cear

Yesterday morning, town officials gathered for a ceremony to mark the holiday hosted by the Greater Jamesport Civic Association at the George Young Community Center on South Jamesport Avenue. The annual ceremony, first initiated in 2018, was scaled back to comply with the 25-person limit on gatherings imposed by the state in Phase Three of the New York Forward reopening plan.

Following the presentation of colors by the Riverhead Veterans of Foreign Wars Van Rensselaer Skidmore Post No. 2476 and an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Anton DeWet of Old Steeple Community Church, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar gave remarks honoring the United States of America’s 244th birthday.

In attendance at the ceremony were council members Jodi Giglio, Catherine Kent and Frank Beyrodt, as well as Riverhead VFW Post Commander Tom Najdzion, Greater Jamesport Civic Association president Patrick Derenze and Jamesport Fire Commissioner and civic association member John Newman, who organized the event.

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Denise Civiletti
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.