Thousands of people made their way to Baldwin Park Saturday to celebrate the 24th annual Baldwin Day.
The sun shone down on residents from Baldwin and surrounding communities as they grilled hot dogs and burgers, listened to live music and, later in the night, enjoyed a fireworks show.
Chamber of Commerce President Erik Mahler summed up the day this way: “Perfect weather, perfect people, perfect chamber members supporting the community.”
“It’s wholesome activities and attractions like these that make living on Long Island worthwhile,” said Dr. Jaffer Ahmad, a Salisbury resident. “From enjoying juicy burgers to singing along with Journey to being mesmerized by a spectacular fireworks show, the fair was the perfect family night out.”
What started out many years ago as the Chamber Picnic, organizers said, evolved into a much larger event. The tradition was started in 1996 by Ginny Foley, then the Chamber president and now a board member. The fireworks show was added in 2008 to celebrate America’s independence — the event is typically held about a month after the Fourth of July. The 2008 show made Baldwin one of the first non-villages in Nassau County to hold a fireworks display.
“Baldwin Day has long been a time for our community to come together in celebration and give back to the residents and small businesses that chronicle the soul of Baldwin,” Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement. “Growing up in Baldwin with my family, I have always looked forward to this event and continue to proudly celebrate our roots and local history thanks to the tremendous generosity and hard work of the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.”
The chamber provided thousands of hot dogs and hamburgers, local pizzerias donated pizza pies, and New World Music Center, at 1858 Grand Ave., provided live music featuring local musicians.
Despite concerns a few months ago about whether the chamber could bear the entire cost of the fireworks show, the tradition carried on. The decreasing number of sponsors and lack of donations to support the annual tradition — which cost about $15,000 — had organizers worried. Mahler said “not enough” money was raised this year, and the chamber board will have to decide if the fireworks show will continue next year.
Nearly 50 tents were set up in the park featuring the merchandise of local businesses, Mahler said. Sponsors who supported Baldwin Day include Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Cecere Family Funeral Home, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Koch-Glackin Agency, Carousel of Learning, Fullerton Funeral Home, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, South Nassau Communities Hospital, H&B Premier Tax & Accounting LLC, Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, County Legislator Debra Mulé, Kitty O’Hara’s and Gala Fresh Farms.
"I congratulate the Baldwin Chamber for a successful Baldwin Day 2019," Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney said in a statement. "This event is a terrific opportunity to bring the community together, celebrate with great music and programming, all right here at beautiful Baldwin Park. It is so important to shop local, and I thank the Chamber for all their efforts to encourage commerce here in this community."
Residents sat in beach chairs as a Town of Hempstead concert concluded the night before the fireworks display.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially under the summer sky — it’s gorgeous,” said Peggy Costa, a Freeport resident. “We’re looking forward to the fireworks later, too.”
“It’s a beautiful night,” said 21-year Baldwin resident Milagros Santiago before the fireworks. “We bought a local pizza at a local pizzeria, and we’re eating.”
“Every year, Baldwin Day highlights a community with a rich history and an even brighter future,” Mulé said in a statement. “I am always proud to stand with Baldwin residents, celebrate its beautiful diversity and work alongside community leaders as an advocate for this vibrant part of Nassau County.”
“The Chamber of Commerce is so vital to our community,” Debbie Pugliese, the deputy commissioner of the Town of Hempstead Department of Senior Enrichment, told the crowd before the fireworks. “We need to support the businesses in our community . . . You really need to remember that the fireworks are by your local business community who puts this together for you.”