Editorial: A time to celebrate — together

“June is a love song written by nature.” 

So wrote London-born poet Winnifred Emma May, better known by her pen name, Patience Strong, a popular mid-20th century poet and lyricist celebrated for her succinct style and love of natural beauty. Given our long days, tranquil nights and bountiful harvests from land and sea, it’s easy to imagine she had the North Fork in mind when she crafted that sentiment. 

But beyond the natural graces of the season, June is also a time of celebration throughout the community. The annual Strawberry Festival, hosted by the Mattituck Lions Club and supported for generations by scores of volunteers — cheers to the hullers! — and local business owners, is now underway and runs through Sunday, which is also Father’s Day. 

In addition to the traditional festivities — scarfing down shortcake, spinning on carnival rides and crowning the Strawberry Queen — this year’s event will offer something special for kids with special needs. Thursday will include the first annual “Memories for Morgan” celebration, a one-hour early opening for 30 local children challenged “with social disorders, life-threatening illness or undue hardship so they can enjoy the carnival without the pressures of crowds or lines,” organizers said in a press release. Now in its 69th year, the beloved tradition has raised millions of dollars to support local charities.

Also this weekend, on Saturday, Greenport’s Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church, along with the Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force and a local chapter of Coming to the Table, an Oakland, Calif.-based anti-racist organization, will host its third annual Juneteenth celebration. This year’s affair is the biggest yet, with an array of celebrations and activities at three locations, starting with the North Fork’s first-ever Juneteenth parade. The procession will step off from the Third Street church at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at Mitchell Park, where a string of guest speakers and celebrations begins at 11 a.m.

In Riverhead Town, the annual Rotary Uncorked fundraiser will take place Thursday night at RG|NY on Sound Avenue. This annual event raises money for the many charities the Rotary supports, including this year’s beneficiaries Camp PaQuaTuck, The Retreat and Riverhead Rotary charities. 

Next Saturday, June 22, will mark the second annual North Fork Pride parade and festival in Greenport, the product of the combined efforts of North Fork Women, a longtime lesbian-advocacy group, local business owner Lori Panarello, as well as the LGBT Network, which provides support services and hosts events across Long Island.

Everyone on the North Fork is being represented this month ­— people of color, families with deep roots in the area, the LGBTQ+ community and those with disabilities. These events are supported and sponsored by local businesses and community organizations, including wineries, hospitals, charitable groups and, of course, volunteers. 

Put it all together and it’s as clear as a June sunrise just how incredibly strong — and engaged — this community has been and continues to be. 

Looking at the North Fork as a microcosm of the whole nation, in a time when division and vitriol seem present in almost every facet of our daily lives, it’s heartening to see our community making progress, being inclusive and celebrating. Together.