Hundreds gather for George David launch party in Greenport

John Costello waves the flag, signaling the start of the launch.
John Costello waves the flag, signaling the start of the launch.

The last time brothers John and George Costello launched a barge they built together, the year was 1991. And they made a party out of it.

Hundreds gathered at Hanff’s Boat Yard on Sterling Street to watch as the barge Preston was set into action for the first time.

A lot has changed in the past 23 years, most noticeably the absence of George Costello. The co-owner of Costello Marine in Greenport and a treasured community leader, Mr. Costello died in 2012, just a few days after Christmas.

He was on a job in Southampton when the stress caught up with him, his brother said. He was 63.

In many ways, however, not much has changed from the last launch, John Costello said. Small town traditions live on, as does the memory of his brother.

That was evident Saturday, when more than 200 came out for the launching of the George David, named in honor of the business and civic leader.

For John Costello, the launching of George David brought back memories of working alongside his brother. The two had been business partners since they co-founded Costello Marine in August 1976. The Costello brothers had been working on the barge for nearly four years, even before George Costello died.

Nearly a year and a half later, Mr. Costello completed the work in memory of his brother.

“He was involved in 90 percent of the work and he is still involved, he is just looking from a different direction,” Mr. Costello.

The George David is 24 feet wide by 92 feet long, the largest barge built and launched from the Greenport waterfront since World War II, Mr. Costello said. The vessel will serve the family business, traveling the across Long Island to repair and build docks and slips.

The vessel is now on its way to Connecticut to be sandblasted and painted, Mr. Costello said.

Saturday’s launch party brought out a who’s who of Greenport residents. There was not an open spot left on the dock has Mr. Costello gave the go-ahead to release the barge into the harbor, to the cheers of all in attendance.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s owner Rich Vandenburgh brought the free beer and even tapped the kegs himself for the celebration. Local artist Cindy Roe opened up her gallery at the boatyard for the crowd.

“We always have a party at Hanff’s,” Mr. Costello said.

Although the party, food and drinks were free, many took it upon themselves to donate money to one of George Costello’s favorite civic causes — the restoration of the historic roller rink at the Burton Potter American Legion Hall on Third Street.