As a waterfront community, Glen Cove is a shining example of how much fun can be had on Long Island during the summer. There is no shortage of things for residents and non-residents to do from June through August. While new activities are constantly popping up throughout the city, the Morgan Park Summer Music Festival has remained one of Glen Cove’s biggest attractions for generations and will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer.
The festival began in 1959 under the leadership of then-Glen Cove Mayor Joseph Suozzi and his wife, Marge. Marge immediately became the chair of the festival’s committee, taking care of all of its organizational duties. She shouldered these responsibilities for 56 years until she stepped down from her position in 2016. She immediately passed the baton to her son, U.S. Congressman and former Glen Cove Mayor Tom Suozzi, who now serves as chair in her stead. Marge died shortly after on Sept. 2, 2017. Suozzi said that he is dedicated to keeping his mother’s legacy alive through the festival.
One of the most important aspects of the festival, Suozzi said, is that it is free, something which his mother always emphasized. His aim in keeping it free is to allow for people who perhaps cannot afford tickets for a Broadway show or a big concert in New York City to be able to enjoy free entertainment close to home. Suozzi and his team have raised $100,000 for this year’s festival, which was done entirely through donations at no cost to Glen Cove’s taxpayers.
“It’s about public service,” Suozzi said. “It’s about something for the people. It’s a fulfilling sense of community and it serves no purpose other than that people enjoy themselves.”
Resident Dave Nieri, who served on the GC 350 Committee last summer, described the festival as “a cultural icon” in Glen Cove. He said it is one of the longest running music festivals on Long Island, and likely influenced the creation of similar events along the North Shore.
Since each show is free, Nieri said he thinks that everyone should consider going to the festival. Music lovers, Nieri said, should look into who the groups are that will be playing because they may be pleasantly surprised, recalling one year in which he was excited to see a Rolling Stones cover band of which he had no previous knowledge.
Darcy Belyea, director of Glen Cove’s Parks and Recreation Department, said she considers the festival to be an ideal way for families from across Long Island to come together and enjoy one of the city’s cultural trademarks. The Parks Department is always proud to host the festival, she said. Belyea considers it to be “just one more offering of our great city.”
Suozzi said this year’s festival will be bigger than most due to the 60-year milestone, although it will still maintain the same comfortable, homey atmosphere. He also said the acts represent musical styles from many different cultures, emphasizing the diversity of Glen Cove’s population.
The festival starts off on July 4 as Richie Cannata and the Lords of 52nd Street pay tribute to the North Shore’s resident musical legend, Billy Joel. Eight more shows will follow, concluding with A Band Called Honalee’s rendition of classic 60s songs. Each show begins at 7:30 p.m., and concertgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to set up on the grass.