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5 Long Island summer traditions you can still experience this year

Many of the familiar sights of Memorial Day

Many of the familiar sights of Memorial Day weekend are upon us, no matter how different this summer kickoff may feel. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The beaches are opening, the Blue Angels are flying and you’re firing up that grill: Many of the familiar sights of Memorial Day weekend on Long Island are upon us, no matter how different this summer kickoff may feel.

While all not of our seasonal go-to's are ready to return quite yet, several that help craft our annual traditions are. Outdoor movies are back for the season, with the Town of North Hempstead marking the highly anticipated return of the drive-in theater on Saturday, and the Bethpage Air Show is back (albeit virtually, and previously recorded) on Sunday.

Here’s a bucket-list worthy checklist that’ll keep your summer traditions going this year, at a distance:

1. Tune into the Bethpage Air Show

The pilots are still returning for this year’s show. And while you won’t be laying on that sandy towel crammed next to hundreds of other beachgoers or hearing the rumble of the Blue Angels while riding your bike down the Wantagh State Parkway path, you’ll still be saluting a Long Island favorite at home.

The annual show is hosting a virtual event for the first time in 17 years. It’ll air live at noon on Sunday, with Blue Angel pilots sharing “videos from some of their favorite previous performances,” Linda Armyn, senior vice president of the event’s organizer Bethpage Federal Credit Union, said in a release. Catch the previously-recorded show at facebook.com/bethpageairshow.

2. Head out on an East End day trip

Every year, you find yourself stopping for a selfie in front of the Big Duck, which was originally built in 1931. Why not hop out for a 2020 version while en route to the East End? The gift shop isn’t open, but the duck itself awaits your visit. Located at 1012 NY-24 in Flanders, the duck is a brief detour away from that scenic drive you have planned along Sound Avenue and Long Island Wine Country. If spotting the duck isn't a sweet enough incentive on its own, consider making it into a foodie road trip and drop by Breitenbach Farms on Rte 25 in Aquebogue, which is serving up apple crumb, cherry and blueberry pies curbside, and is among Newsday food critics' picks. 

3. Satisfy your summer sweet tooth

Pies aside, a Long Island summer isn’t complete without Italian ices, ice cream sundaes, soft serve and more. Local shops have been making summer evenings sweeter for years — and for many, that’s not stopping now. The family-owned Marvel Frozen Dairy in Lido Beach, which has been at 258 Lido Blvd., since 1951, is serving up chocolate-dipped cones, nut-covered soft serve and more curbside at its walk-up window. Ralph’s Italian Ices, which opened its first Long Island location in Franklin Square more than two decades ago, is doing the same (with a socially distant order line) and is also available for delivery through DoorDash, Grubhub and other food services. Top off an evening walk or indulge around the fire pit.

4. Take in the sun at your favorite beach

Beaches are set to open for the season Friday, says Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. But — you guessed it — they’ll look a bit different this year. You can still soak up the sun, lounge in the sand and walk the boardwalk, if there’s no crowd. State and local beaches will limit entry to 50% capacity (so you can keep your distance), playgrounds and picnic areas will be closed and the 6-foot regulation will apply.

5. See a movie under the stars

An old favorite returns this summer with towns and businesses reviving the drive-in movie theater. The Town of NorthHempstead was the first to announce its drive-in series, which kicks off Saturday with a screening of 1985’s “Goonies.” Tickets to the first screening sold out the day it was announced. Upcoming screenings will be shared at NorthHempsteadNY.gov/drive-in.

The Southampton Chamber of Commerce’s 11th annual Nostalgic Summer Drive-In Movie Monday Series will run July 27 through Aug. 10 at Coopers Beach, with a ticket price of $50 per car (more info at southamptonchamber.com).

And that’s not all. Local restaurants are looking to get into the drive-in game. Vespa Italian Chophouse (vespaitalianchophouse.com) in Northport already launched its "Drive-In Dinner and a Movie” series. (Tickets to the inaugural event were $100 and went toward the night’s food and drink purchase minimum). The Sayville Athletic Club launched drive-in nights with $20 tickets and plans to screen flicks at 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. 

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