A Slow Start: Fire Island’s Memorial Day Weekend Quiet Due to Weather

By Shoshanna McCollum
The crowds were there, possibly in a subdued fashion and modest numbers, but they were there. Folks made due with the lack of a ferry terminal. A few junked kitchen appliances visible in front of summer homes were somehow forgivable. Signs in stating “No Beach Access” along many Ocean Beach walkways were evident that some repairs still had a way to go. The Memorial Day parade was a quieter, more subdued event. Anything else would have been less than honest.Anticipation about the Memorial Day Weekend tourism on Fire Island gave way as inclement weather took over. In other words it was a very typical weekend on Fire Island. With snow in New England and dangerous tournedos in Oklahoma earlier in the week, a cold raining weekend did not seem so bad.

Cocktails did a brisk business at CJ’s as patrons took shelter from the damp weather and toasted with “Sandy shots” and “Rocketinis” (a Rocket Fuel martini) to toast their triumphant return to Fire Island seven months later.

“On Friday afternoon we were still sweeping up and getting the place ready but later that night we had waves of people coming in,” said Laura Mercogliano, the new owner of CJ’s. “I think people had cabin fever being stuck inside their homes because of the weather, but I was very touched by the outpouring of support and the great celebratory feeling.

Indeed business proprietors on Fire Island have withstood dreary holiday weather forecasts before, and this mundane fact in and of itself has spoken of the resilience of Fire Island more persuasively than any slogan, bumper sticker, or political speech making ever could. As the sun tentatively peeked out at the end of the three-day weekend, people gathered and a feeling of normality prevailed. This was an island that had weathered the storm. Progress ongoing.