Eat, drink (local wine) and be merry!

Once upon a time — it must have been the late ’70s or early ’80s — I wrote a Suffolk Times editorial extolling the virtues of Greenport’s open container ordinance. (It had something to do with customers taking “roadies” out the back doors of Meyer’s [now Whiskey Wind] and Rhumbline, I think.) And much to my chagrin and embarrassment, a week later the editorial elicited a tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor from a college classmate of mine who alerted readers to my personal penchant for consuming alcoholic beverages in public during my college days. Considering its author, the editorial was at the very least duplicitous, he suggested.

What got me thinking about this was the recent debate about allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the village’s Mitchell Park. As reported elsewhere in this week’s edition of The Suffolk Times, the Long Island Wine Council will host a one-day food and wine sampling event in the park on Sunday, June 27. And that prompted the Village Board to take a new look at the open container law, which under normal circumstances would preclude the sale and consumption of wine in the park.

But, you may ask: What about the Maritime Festival? Don’t visitors to that popular annual event routinely and openly consume beer and other alcoholic beverages up and down Main and Front streets? (Short answer: yes, indeed. Historically, enforcement of the village’s open container law has been waived for that weekend in September.) The Southold Park District’s Founders Landing Park also has a proven track record of successfully hosting events, including private parties, at which alcohol is consumed.

The Wine Council and members of the Village Board ended up agreeing that the June 27 event will be a good thing for Greenport, and I concur. What’s more, I think village law and/or policy ought to be amended to allow the consumption of alcohol in Mitchell Park for any and all events approved in advance by the village — including the summer concert series, the Maritime Fest and other similar events, including private parties and perhaps even wedding receptions.

Each winter for the past few years, the former Joan Giger Walker and I have enjoyed attending an open air concert series at a park in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla. And every week, a different nonprofit group is given the responsibility for and benefit of operating the beer and wine concession. Volunteers from the group actually serve the beverages and “card” those who might be under 21, with net proceeds flowing to the nonprofit. (For-profit food vendors, some associated with businesses surrounding the park, also offer a variety of ethnic foods and snacks.) The events are well policed, and we’ve never seen any evidence of a problem other than some limited instances of DWD (dancing while drinking).

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see such a system working out well in Mitchell Park, too.


Calling all host families! Calling all host families!

Two local organizations, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball and the East End Student Film Project, are looking for families to host summer guests beginning in June. Joan and I hosted a North Fork Ospreys player last summer, and we’d do it again this year if it weren’t for family visits that will take both of our guest bedrooms out of play for most of July. It was fun getting to know our particular player — pitcher Steve D’Angelo from Pace University in Westchester County — and it certainly gave us good reason to attend as many Osprey games as possible. If you can host an Osprey player this summer, please call Brian Hansen at 631-553-3940 or Joe Finora at 631-680-7870.

And so, too, is the Student Film Project looking for a host family (singular) to put up the instructor who will oversee this summer’s filmmaking program. To host or for further information, call Sara Hallock at 631-477-1226.