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Jun 25, 2019 3:00 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Donations For Southampton Village Fourth Of July Parade Continue To Decrease, Causing Some Worry About Its Future

The 2018 Fourth of July parade.     PRESS FILE
Jul 2, 2019 12:35 PM

Organizers of the Southampton Village Fourth of July Parade said the event is getting more and more difficult to put on each year, because it is getting harder to raise the funds needed—and fiscal reserves are dwindling as they are being tapped to cover the difference.

Robert Grisnik, the chairman of the Village of Southampton Commission on Veterans Patriotic Events, formerly known as the Combined Veterans Organization, said last week that the committee has come up short in donations over the past two years. The parade—a regional event on the South Fork for more than 60 years, and a focal point of the summer season for visitors and residents alike—faces an uncertain fiscal future if more support isn’t found.

“I have a little bank account that I’ve been accumulating for over the last 20 years, that we use as a savings account to help cover any shortfalls. And that’s what we’ve done for the last two years,” he said. “The years that we had a little bit of money over what our expenses were, we put into the savings account. And for the last two years, we had to pull out money from the account to help cover the cost of the parade.”

Donations, not the village, pay for the parade, and each year the commission sends out a letter to the community seeking assistance in its efforts.

Robert Gill, the treasurer of the commission, said on Tuesday that the cost of the Fourth of July Parade, the biggest of several events the commission hosts throughout the year, keeps increasing, and many of the families who supported the event in the past have moved away.

“I believe that we’re falling $5,000 to $6,000 short,” he said. “The problem is, you have fewer families … out here, and you have more of a transient summer population that believe they don’t have to contribute to anything going on out here, because it’s not really them.”

Mr. Gill said the older Southampton Village population owned their houses for 20 to 40 years on streets like First Neck Lane and Halsey Neck Lane, and wanted to be part of the community. Those folks would support local events, he said.

It was not uncommon for the committee to receive a $10,000 or $15,000 check from people in the community, according to Mr. Gill. But many of the donors have either died or moved away.

The money, he added, is not being replaced.

At this point, the committee sends out a donation letter seeking funds from the community to put on the parade for an average cost of $40,000. On Tuesday, with just two days until the 2019 parade, Mr. Gill said the committee had raised only $25,000.

Mr. Grisnik said he could not pinpoint why the money is not coming in like in years past, but last week he filled out enough vouchers to cover expenses for the parade, in the amount of $38,123. An additional roughly $2,000 goes toward services the commission holds on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, primarily for providing food to the veterans when they come to the veterans hall.

“It is the biggest parade of the year, and the biggest Fourth of July parade on Long Island,” Mr. Grisnik said of the village’s traditional event. “I’ve got 10 or 11 bands, about eight or nine fire departments, and 20 to 30 floats. It’s a huge parade.”

Mr. Gill said the committee uses the money to pay up to $8,000 for some of the bands to come into the village for the parade. That is the upper end of the spectrum, and other bands do not cost as much.

When the committee falls short, it has to dip into the savings account to cover the difference. Currently, the account has between $30,000 and $40,000 in it, which will not last very long, according to Mr. Gill.

William Hattrick, who is stepping away from serving the Village of Southampton for nearly 40 years, either as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, as mayor, or more recently as a village trustee, will be the grand marshal of the parade on Thursday.

Nancy McGann, who also chose not to seek re-election as a village trustee, will be one of the judges for the parade, as will Eileen Musarra, the village’s deputy clerk, and Bill Evans of WLNG.

“It’s a community event that people have been coming out for since after World War II,” Mr. Grisnik said. “It gets bigger every year. It’s a fantastic event for the family to come out and cheer on, especially the veterans.”

Mr. Gill, a veteran of the Coast Guard who served eight years during the first Operation Desert Storm, was born and raised in Southampton. He said the parade is something that has stayed consistent over the years, and still offers a very similar experience to one that kids experienced in the 1950s.

“It is a way of anchoring us to our past and securing our future as a small community,” he said of the parade. “It’s a way to honor our country, and you can get the feeling of a small-town Americana parade in a small village that cares.

“Even if it’s for an hour, or two hours, we create that once a year, right in the middle of our village,” he added. “I don’t think you’re going to find that anywhere else around here.”

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Make it 1 hour long and call it a day. The parade viewers look almost as miserable as the poor wilted marchers who have been standing around for 4 hours before you even see them march by.
By even flow (990), East Hampton on Jul 3, 19 10:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Agreed with Even Flow - How many fire trucks do you need to see? Needs some variety to make it exciting.
By SHResident (59), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 11:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
What about the ten million dollars the village just got from the town for the spare square of grass on pond lane?
By deepchanel (88), Hampton Bays on Jul 3, 19 12:01 PM
The parade saw some tough years when the anti-Bush protestors were allowed to participate. A year or so later listening to it on the radio, the WLNG announcer referred to military vehicles as "war vehicles." Thankfully that has tempered some, but we'll see in the current environment. Ugh.
By Po Boy (5090), Water Mill on Jul 3, 19 12:07 PM
For me it was the Tea Partiers a good few years back that were a huge turn-off.

Haven't seen them recently thankfully, but we'll see in the current environment. Ugh.
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on Jul 3, 19 12:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah, and flying that awful historical "Don't Tread on Me" flag and the banners with excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and singing God Bless America.

YUCK!
By Po Boy (5090), Water Mill on Jul 3, 19 12:54 PM
That would be the Gadsden flag.
By Mr. Z (11670), North Sea on Jul 5, 19 10:01 PM
I have no problem with the flag itself. What I do have a problem with is how it was misappropriated and politicized by the Tea Party and the alt-right.
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on Jul 8, 19 9:01 AM
What does that have to do with how it was represented in the parade?

Take a look at the 2011 youtube video. You'll find not an inkling of politicization. One can only conclude the huge turn off you experienced was a direct result of your own political bias - and I dare say - hatred for a patriotic position by a group you apparently disdain.

By Po Boy (5090), Water Mill on Jul 8, 19 12:24 PM
Apparently a lot of people have disdain for the tea baggers. The new version,” freedom caucus “ will go the way of tea baggers.
By Fred s (3194), Southampton on Jul 8, 19 12:32 PM
And those people are called Democrats.
By Po Boy (5090), Water Mill on Jul 9, 19 6:09 PM
I spent many years on the committee and it was a great group. It was hard work and long days.
Many dollars are spent for the bands that come from far away. They rent busses and have many expenses.
A lot of you complain about to many fire trucks. These volunteer FD members have pride in their FD and their equipment and are proud to display them. This is a Southampton community function. People come afar, people that have moved away come back for the 4th of July Parade and to see old ...more
By knitter (1902), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 12:33 PM
I spent many years on the committee and it was a great group. It was hard work and long days.
Many dollars are spent for the bands that come from far away. They rent busses and have many expenses.
A lot of you complain about to many fire trucks. These volunteer FD members have pride in their FD and their equipment and are proud to display them. This is a Southampton community function. People come afar, people that have moved away come back for the 4th of July Parade and to see old ...more
By knitter (1902), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 12:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
This parade is AMAZING and Most people LOVE and look forward to coming out and supporting AMERICA, and Our Veterans.
By mychildmatters (70), SOUTHAMPTON on Jul 3, 19 1:15 PM
It has gotten too big. Too many fire trucks, too much of everything. It lasts too long.
By localcitizen (108), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 4:28 PM
The times are a changin and it effects everything including the parade.
By metsfan2 (159), southampton on Jul 3, 19 5:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Does the parade have a website? A FB page? A “Donate” button?
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 8:13 PM
Is the CVO a nonprofit?
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Jul 3, 19 8:31 PM
An entire article about how donations are desperately needed with no mention of how to donate...wasted opportunity.
By cmac (184), EAST QUOGUE on Jul 3, 19 10:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
The Press must have the address for donations. The CVO [combined veteran organization] became the Southampton Commission on Veterans Patriotic Events years ago. I'm sure it is a nonprofit as before.
I love a parade still and your not required to stay. We are FREE to stay as long as we like...
By knitter (1902), Southampton on Jul 5, 19 8:29 AM
Agreed knitter. People are free to stay as long as they like. If they don't like it, leave...it's very simple.
By pvalk6 (32), Southampton on Jul 5, 19 4:47 PM
Stop paying for bands. You can have a great parade without having to pay people to participate.
By BobCor (1), Greenport on Jul 5, 19 8:44 AM
It's no surprise that locals have always felt unwelcome in Southampton village, and it's just become more so, over they years. July 4th and the Christmas Parade seem line the lone days where everyone feels welcome in the village.

With increasingly few retailers focused towards locals, it doesn't surprise me that donations are off. Southampton village distinctly lacks a home town "vibe". As a local non-retail business owner, I am FAR more inclined to donate towards places like SYS, Peconic ...more
By Peconic Dolphin (9), Southampton on Jul 5, 19 2:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Here's a link to the appeal letter:

https://southamptonvillage.org/DocumentCenter/View/542/2019-July-4-Parade-appeal-letter
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Jul 5, 19 4:34 PM
It is a great comminity event. Lots of families and plenty of smiles. I suggest that the organizers work with the various civic associations and expand the donor reach.
By Craigcat (256), Speonk on Jul 5, 19 4:38 PM
So much money could have been raised during the parade with some 2019-style donation/fund-raising methods — set up a text to donate number, a Venmo account for donations or any number of other methods. Ask our new young mayor for some ideas. There were a lot of people at the parade who could have taken out their phones and easily donated. If each person gave an average of $5 much would have been raised. Instead the entire opportunity was lost. I saw two donation carts whipping down the street. ...more
By nancyloo (13), Palm Beach on Jul 9, 19 8:24 PM
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