July Fourth: Weeklong fest or just a day?

Spectators watch the TD Bank Celebrate America Fireworks

Spectators watch the TD Bank Celebrate America Fireworks in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. (July 2, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

It's the beginning of the July Fourth holiday Friday -- for some people.

This is one of those years when the Fourth falls on a Wednesday, making it hard to figure out which weekend the holiday should be attached to -- if at all.

The Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau said that if the weather is good, East End tourism spots might see two long weekends -- one leading up to the holiday and one after.

"It may open an opportunity for a little longer type of getaway than the norm. That has yet to play out," said Moke McGowan, president of the bureau. "I'm sure East End lodgings and restaurants and vineyards are anticipating good weekend traffic, both in front of and after the Fourth of July."

The last time this happened, in 2007, there was heavy turnout at Long Island state parks the Monday before and the Friday after July 4, according to Ronald Foley, regional director.

"This year we also have the Phish concert taking place July 3rd and 4th at the Jones Beach theater. That will bring extra crowds -- and there's not a cloud in the sky for the forecast, so it's going to be great," Foley said.

The AAA defined its annual survey of travel activity this year as the period between Tuesday, July 3, and Sunday, July 8, but 65 percent of the people who planned to travel told the survey takers they would depart before July 3, and 35 percent said they would leave on the 3rd or the 4th.

"It is conceivable that more than half the people will be leaving this Friday, June 29th," Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the auto group said.

Two car-rental companies -- the Avis Budget Group and Hertz -- said their biggest pickup days this year are before the Wednesday holiday.

The Long Island Rail Road said it was viewing Tuesday as the getaway day, and would have extra eastbound trains that afternoon.

There will be no lane closings on state roads on Long Island this weekend or next, or on the holiday, as routine construction and repair work will be halted, the state Department of Transportation said.

Suffolk County police said their enhanced holiday DWI effort would start Tuesday and extend into Wednesday, on the theory that people were more likely to drink the day before the holiday, knowing they did not have to work the next day.

The Long Island business community is pretty much writing off all next week. "My week has been crazy this week, knowing that next week is going to be an off week for people," said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, a business group. "With the heat and the Fourth, it's probably as good a week as any for people to take it slow."

Small-business owners were another matter. Vicki Blitenthal, 59, of South Farmingdale, said she usually closes her Farmingdale record store, Whirlin' Disc, for a long weekend when the holiday falls on Friday or Saturday.

But she is taking off only one day. "You wouldn't want to totally close up because it's vacation time [for customers]," she said. "But we need a small break for ourselves Wednesday."

With Sarah Crichton

and Keith Herbert

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