In a galaxy far, far away — well, on East Main Street in Patchogue — astronauts and aliens walked hand-in-hand beside a sparkly purple “spaceship” as dazzled children looked on in curiosity from the sidelines.
Halloween? Nope. The occasion was St. Patrick’s Day.
On Sunday, the Greater Patchogue Foundation held its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and 5K race. The Patchogue-Medford Library staff saw this as an opportunity to not only promote an upcoming event — they also transformed into characters, sporting zany makeup, bodysuits and astronaut gear.
On April 15, the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts will welcome Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut and Franklin Square native. He will speak about his autobiography, “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe.”
Two months ago, the Patchogue-Medford Library staff decided that they would recognize Massimino’s accomplishments and this event by taking on an outer-space theme at the parade. Librarian Michele Cayea said that after securing the van and trailer through the Suffolk County Library System, they got to work building their solar system.
“We painted the panels like a galaxy theme,” Cayea said. “We wrapped them in tablecloths and then painted them with black paint, and we cut out stars . . . And we have our alien mascot. We’re trying to make it fun for the families.”
To tie their extraterrestrial theme with the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, library staffers carried green inflatable aliens and accessories along the route. Cayea said putting their float together took somewhere between five and 10 hours.
Next came the costumes: Cayea and her colleague Colleen Hutchens purchased their alien attire on Amazon, while the rest of the staff showed off NASA T-shirts and spacesuits.
Cayea said she was most looking forward to taking photos with families all day long as the celebration kicked off down East Main Street. The group was cheered on throughout the parade — one parent yelled out from the crowd, “We love the library!”
Although Cayea, 32, was dressed like she’s from another planet, for her, the occasion was close to home. She graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 2003 and has participated in three of the village’s parades.
Cayea grinned while remembering last year’s theme for the library float: “Green Eggs and Ham.”
“It’s a little out of this world, this time!” she added with a laugh.