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Shelter Island Beach Blast hits the road

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | A night scene at a past Island Beach Blast.
A night scene at a past Island Beach Blast.

An Island institution has gone south.

The annual Island Beach Blast, which rocked Wades Beach for almost 30 Septembers, is now being hosted by Sag Harbor.

The Blast, a concert by multiple bands complete with go-go dancers, jugglers, food vendors and a pig roast, had run its course here, said Joe Lauro, the guiding spirit of the beloved Island event.

Filmmaker, music historian and front man for the popular local band, the HooDoo Loungers, Mr. Lauro said a number of factors led to the Blast going dark here and resurrected on the South Fork this year.

The event had benefited the Island Gift of Life charity in recent years, but became less profitable because of steadily dropping attendance, Mr. Lauro said. This was partly due to rainouts three of the last four years.

Another factor in closing shop on the end-of-summer Blast was complaints of an overbearing Shelter Island Police Department presence at the 2012 gathering.

Mr. Lauro said the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce came to him and asked if he could organize the Blast as part of the finale of the village’s HarborFest.

Last September, Mr. Lauro told the Reporter that “a lot of people were complaining to me that for the past couple of years there was so much police presence it was intimidating. This is a party, people are going to have a beer.”

Friends had called him and said they weren’t coming to the Island because officers were puling them over simply because they didn’t recognize their vehicles when pulling into or out of the parking lot at the beach.

When the Island cancellation was announced, Police Chief Jim Read said, “You always have people who think there is too much or too little police presence.”

Officers, including one in plain clothes, had been in the crowd in past years because of reports of underage drinking and marijuana smoking, Chief Read said.

“I’m not concentrating on any negativity,” Mr. Lauro said Tuesday, and was concentrating on only positive vibes for the Blast at its new home.

The HooDoo Loungers will be performing along with Gene Casey & the Lone Sharks, Hopefully Forgiven and some special guests from 6:30 to 11 p.m. this Saturday, September 13 at Haven’s Beach in Sag Harbor.

For more information, go to sibeachblast.com.