Huckleberry Frolic to celebrate 50 years


East Rockaway residents and other event goers will be transported back to 1969 when they walk into Memorial Park on June 8 for the 50th annual Huckleberry Frolic.

There, they will see a 1960s Volkswagen Bus that they will have an opportunity to take pictures in, a hippie-themed photo booth and a variety of decorations straight out of 1969 — including homemade wooden peace signs and flowers. The first 50 guests at the parade will receive a free tie-dyed bandana, and the first 50 that enroll in the HuckleBaby Parade and Contest will receive a tie-dyed stuffed dog.

“It’s a big celebration,” Charlene Fried, chair of the Grist Mill Museum Committee, said of this year’s Frolic, which will raise money for the upkeep and restoration of the village’s more than 330-year-old Grist Mill Museum. The committee created the Frolic in 1969, and last year was the first time it became a two-day celebration.

In keeping with that precedent, the Frolic will begin this year on June 7 at 5 p.m. when food trucks will line the park before a Permission to Launch concert sponsored by Oceanside-based All City Auto Body & Towing. The local band will perform covers of songs by a variety of artists, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, FUN!, Frankie Valli, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones.

“We thought it sounded really fun,” said Mark Eriksen, the drummer for Permission to Launch. The band currently has a residency at the Lazy Lobster, he said, adding that he and his fellow band members love playing in East Rockaway because there’s a “good crowd, good people and everyone has a good time.”

The Frolic will continue the next morning with a parade at 10 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony dedicating the Frolic in memory of the late John “Harry” Conklin, who was a member of the Grist Mill Museum Committee for 40 years, and in honor of the Lioy and Esposito families, who donated artifacts to the museum.

Then, at about 11 a.m., infants through 6-year-olds will take part in the HuckleBaby Parade, which will feature songs with the word ‘baby’ in them. Children of all ages could also enjoy a petting zoo, rides, a video arcade bus, an obstacle course and several inflatable rides in the afternoon.

In addition, local organizations will have activities for children to participate in. The East Rockaway Education Foundation, for example, will have a Maker Space where children can build their own creations. Dan Caracciolo, the president of the foundation, said he decided to have a table at the Frolic to showcase the work the organization does.

“Since folks have been asking what we do and fund, we thought it would be fun to showcase the Robotics Club, [which] we helped provide the seed money for,” he said. “And [we] thought the Maker Space would be just a fun community thing to do.” The foundation is now looking for LEGO donations for the Maker Space, which can be made at Rhame Avenue or Centre Avenue elementary schools.

Those who are more artsy will have an opportunity to purchase a $10 tile to create a commemorative 50th anniversary Memory Wall. By purchasing a tile, Fried said, a guest registers for an art class on June 16 at the East Rockaway Senior Center, where they can decorate the tile with a sharpie alcohol painting, a photo or scrap art. Once all of the tiles are decorated, she said, she would like to hang them up in the East Rockaway Library’s new annex.

“I wanted to make something that would last,” Fried said.

And as all of that’s going on, local groups will provide entertainment. RYU Martial Arts will do a demonstration, ROK Health and Fitness employees will perform a ballroom dance demonstration and Stefanie Bradley from B Bistro A Taste of Vietnam will sing. Fried said Bradley previously performed on “Regis & Kelly” and at a birthday party for Martha Stewart.

The celebration will culminate in a free Lamar Peters Rock and Roll Review concert at the park, where residents are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

“We’re asking that everyone come out, have a good time and support the museum,” Fried said.