Nautical Mile Festival brings joy to families


It was sunny and summery for Freeport’s annual Nautical Mile Festival last Saturday, June 1. The village’s famous strip of cafes, restaurants, bars and gift shops was vehicle-free and walkable, and a variety of vendors, some 70 in all, did brisk business.

Families took advantage of the beautiful weather, sipping on lemonade, indulging in ice cream, watching the construction of balloon animals and shopping along the sidewalks, with many staying for dinner on the Mile.

At noon, a number of speakers gathered near Front Street to praise village officials and the event, and then Mayor Robert Kennedy cut the ribbon symbolizing the official opening of the Mile for the summer.

“Today we’re celebrating our 34th Nautical Mile Festival,” Kennedy said. “Though we missed a couple during Covid, we plan on many more successful events in the Village of Freeport.”

There was live music, fishing boats available for charter, and amusement rides for children. Kennedy thanked Liz Comerford, of the Recreation Center, who took the lead in organizing the event, as well as Rob Fisenne, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, and Police Chief Michael Smith, Assistant Chief Michael Smith, and Deputy Chief Carl Hetzel.

The attendees included State Sen. Kevin Thomas, Assembly members Taylor Darling and Brian Curran, County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Legislators Seth Koslow and Debra Mulé, county Youth Services Executive Director Ladonna Taylor, Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, village Comptroller Elaine Phillips, Trustee George Martinez, Housing Authority Chairman Phillip Mataragas, Chamber of Commerce President Ken Dookram, Housing Commissioner Steven Patrick, Community Development Agency Executive Director Jeanne Jordan, Freeport Village Justice Roy Cacciatore, and Fire Department Executive Director Ray Maguire.

“Thank you, Mayor Kennedy, and thank you for the great job you do in Freeport,” Blakeman said. “Also, the Freeport Police Department, the Freeport volunteer firefighters, the EMTs — thank you for keeping us safe each and every day,” he added, describing the festival as a “bipartisan love-fest.”

The Herald spoke with Ilona Jagnow, of Otto’s Sea Grill on the Mile, whose mother, Barbara Jagnow, along with Bill McDermott, of the Tides restaurant, and Frank Cositore, a well-known resident of the village, created the festival in the 1980s.

“I’m very happy that we have a beautiful day,” Ilona Jagnow said. “I’m happy to see the families walking the Mile, and I’m so happy to see the Mile blossoming.”