Hundreds of residents of Huntington Station and neighboring communities converged in that hamlet's main road Saturday as they celebrated the area's diversity and ongoing efforts to revitalize it as a key town center.
The Huntington Station Awareness Day Parade is an annual event established three years ago by advocates who were tired of hearing a negative narrative about their Suffolk County community of 33,000 people.
"We came together in unity and an awareness of the fact that we still have a vibrant Huntington Station that we are bringing back," said Dolores Thompson, parade co-founder and head of the Huntington Station Enrichment Center that runs children's educational programs.
Dozens of groups marched and many people lined up on the sidewalks as the parade proceeded about a mile north from East 15th Street to Church Street, past the railroad stop along New York Avenue.
There were marching bands, vintage cars, motorcycles, police officers, children's groups and elected officials at the parade. The mile-long march ended with a festival with live music performances, food from local vendors and bounce house rides.
The display of community pride that is common to many small downtowns was described by town officials and organizers as a key element to spur efforts to rid the hamlet of its negative image and make progress in crime-fighting and revitalization plans.
"This is Huntington Station's day to really shine," said Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone, who rode along in a convertible. "It's assembling everyone with the spirit that Huntington Station really is the focal point of the Town of Huntington."
Business owners, parents and children, among others, watched and celebrated.
Mabel Medrano, 37, a Salvadoran native who is a stay-at-home mom, brought 1-year-old Alfonso to see the parade. "It's the first time we see something like this here," she said in Spanish. "It's good they are thinking about the children."