Crawling through East Rockaway to benefit Maria victims


About 200 people came to East Rockaway last Saturday to crawl for a cause as local group the11518 held its annual pub crawl fundraiser.

“It was excellent,” said the11518 co-founder Dan Caracciolo, one of the event’s organizers. “It was a gem of a day and an event.”

Caracciolo created the11518 along with fellow East Rockaway residents Joe and Lauren Forgione in 2012. Its initial goal was Hurricane Sandy recovery, but it has since shifted its focus to inspire ideas, initiatives and projects that support East Rockaway’s future, while also giving back to other areas hit by natural disasters.

The ER4PR pub crawl was one such event to help other areas, with the proceeds aiding Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico. Caracciolo said the donations were still being tallied as of press time, but he estimated that the event raised between $9,000 and $10,000 for the cause, meeting the organization’s goal. Proceeds will benefit the Puerto Rico-based La Maraña, a grass-roots nonprofit group led by women that is helping with ongoing recovery efforts and long-term planning for the island. The inaugural pub crawl in 2016 aided those affected by floods in New Orleans, while last year’s proceeds went to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.

This year’s event began at noon with registration at Michael’s Porthole, and Caracciolo said there were a lot of day-of participants. Stops on the crawl included Barrier Brewing Co., Reel, Lazy Lobster, Grandpa Tony’s, the Bold O’Donoghue’s and Mr. Beery’s Village Pub.

“We can’t thank the restaurant and bar owners enough,” Caracciolo said. “They’re giving up the labor and giving up the cocktails and they’re the ones allowing us to participate in a really nice event, so the fact that they were so supportive and so on board is really driving the success of it.”

Tickets cost patrons $40 for the early bird special and $50 from Sept. 18 until the day of the event. Participants received goodie bags that included a red cup, a the11518 koozie, an event bracelet, a map of the crawl locations, a list of specials at participating establishments, a lanyard and information about La Maraña.

A lot of the businesses added their own flair to the event, as Reel had a DJ, Lazy Lobster and Mr. Beery’s provided live bands and Grandpa Tony’s organized raffles. Caracciolo said he was grateful to all who participated and noted that in addition to East Rockaway residents, people from areas like Queens, Long Beach and Farmingdale registered. He also lauded village officials for offering free parking for designated drivers.

Caracciolo said a lot of planning goes into the event and the11518 will soon host a meeting to discuss how to improve it next year. He added that despite the anxiety that comes with undertaking such an endeavor, the crawl was a success.

“At the end of the day, the event just spoke for itself and really put everyone at ease because it did run so smoothly,” he said. “It was definitely worth it in the end.”