Participants in Riverhead PAL's annual bike rodeo on May 21, 2022 at Stotzky Park. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Youngsters in grades K-6 competed in Riverhead PAL’s annual bike rodeo yesterday at Stotzky Park, testing their bicycle-handling skills in the hope of winning a brand-new bicycle or one of dozens of other prizes like tickets to Splish-Splash and the Long Island Aquarium.

Thirty-nine children participated in this year’s event. Girls and boys with the top total scores in each of three grade groups won new bicycles.

Grades K-2 winners of 16″ bicycles were Alisson Orellana and Dylan Flores;

Grades 3-4 winners of 20″ bicycles were Beverley Ceverek and Owen Dupree;

Grades 5-6 winners of 24″ bicycles were A.J. Yarusso and Adelaide Boese.

The bicycles were donated by Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home, Long Island Ice & Fuel, Riverhead Superior Officers Association, Riverhead Building Supply, Riverhead PBA and RiverheadLOCAL.

Participants also won a slew of other prizes for top scores on the various courses, best effort, good sportsmanship and other honors, including from gift cards to local stores, meals at local restaurants and ice cream at Snow Flake and Dari-Land.

Riverhead police officers grade the kids on each of the courses, which aim to test riders’ abilities to safely handle their bicycles — maneuvering around cones, riding along a straight line as slow as possible, building speed and coming to a complete stop as close to a finish line as possible without crossing over, and more.

The officers offer the children tips on how to wear helmets and control their bikes safely.

Riverhead Police Lt. Jon Devereaux oversaw the rodeo for the first time this year. The event is coordinated and produced by the Riverhead Police Department’s Juvenile Aid Bureau, which runs the Police Athletic League for the town. Like all PAL activities, the rodeo encourages healthy activities for families and provides a chance for police and community members to interact and get to know each other in an informal setting.

Devereaux said he checked the Stotzky Park Columbus Avenue parking lot Friday night and it was so flooded from the rain of the past few days that he didn’t think the rodeo could take place Saturday morning.

“And then when I got here early this morning, it was somehow all drained away,” said Devereaux, grinning.

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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.