Shelter Island Reporter Editorials


There were glitches and hitches at Saturday night’s 62nd annual Shelter Island fireworks show.

But the organizers powered through them and put on a spectacular evening of pyrotechnic entertainment for Islanders and visitors of all ages.

After the smoke cleared, literally, it was more than a little disheartening to hear complaints from people griping that the display was too far from Crescent Beach and wasn’t up to par for the annual event. Remember, this peevish reaction was about a free show produced by an all-volunteer group with only one purpose — continue a tradition that provides a joyous celebration of Shelter Island.

It also has become a shining example of citizens not accepting the status quo, but working with each other to change it. In March 2015, the Chamber of Commerce announced it could no longer afford to sponsor the fireworks, and Islanders feared that after 57 consecutive years, the annual gathering would be no more.

But a group of Island residents stepped up, put their heads together and figured out how to make it happen. They had all remembered the communal joy of Shelter Island fireworks when they were children, and wanted to present an experience for their children and all Islanders and visitors of looking skyward on a summer night to be awed and delighted.

Things go wrong, and people work with what they have to make them right, which is what happened Saturday night, and we owe the organizers our thanks and appreciation for carrying on.

Steady as you go
It’s here in all its glory — summer 2019. With the season come all the things that make this time of year on the Island so terrific — along with the associated dangers, on land and on water.

Perhaps boating is at the top of the list of joys that can turn horribly bad. Last year, according to a report from New York State’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department, 19 people lost their lives on the water, a slight decrease from 2017, when there were 23 fatalities. But the number of accidents and injuries were up, with 203 accidents and 108 injuries.

The reasons for the tragedies on the water are simple to figure out — failure to wear personal flotation devices, operating a boat while drunk and operator’s inexperience and/or lack of training. Other causes listed were excessive speed and going out in threatening weather and ending up capsized.

Most of us who are on boats in the summer have probably seen vessels with far too many people aboard — in some cases including very young children. Our bay constables, Butch Labrozzi and Peter Vielbig, are dedicated public servants who keep an eye out for overcrowding, and also any other violations that can lead to serious injuries. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

We are a small island surrounded by saltwater. We should enjoy the water if we live or vacation here. We also have to respect the water, and be smart and safe on it.