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1946 ‘Hullabaloo in Halesite’ commemorated with new plaque

In October 1946, an injured 63-foot black whale

In October 1946, an injured 63-foot black whale beached itself on the shores of Halesite. Photo Credit: Newsday / Edna Murray

It was a whale of a sight.

In October 1946, an injured 63-foot black whale beached itself on the shores of Halesite.

To commemorate the event — an Oct. 22, 1946, Newsday story dubbed it “the Hullabaloo in Halesite” — town officials will unveil a plaque this week near the site.

The whale was such a sensation that schools across Suffolk County — and even some from Nassau County — closed for the day so that students could take a look, according to news articles from the time.

They were joined by hundreds, possibly thousands, of people, all coming to the tiny Huntington community to see the injured mammal, the reports said.

The whale’s visit was announced on the radio. One teacher conducted an impromptu science lesson from the water as the whale lay dying.

“It’s nice to tell a feel-good story now and then,” town historian Robert C. Hughes said. “Not everything in history is a momentous event or a tragedy — there are some fun stories where people have memories they want to share.”

The unveiling of the plaque, which was paid for with private donations, will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Halesite marina behind the Halesite firehouse at 1 New York Ave.

Huntington Station resident Anthony Mastroianni, 86, was a sophomore at Huntington High School when he heard a classmate yell down the hall, “There’s a whale in the harbor!”

That set off an exodus of students, he said.

“This was something new and very exciting,” Mastroianni said. “We heard about whales, but to see a whale over 60 feet long on the beach was incredible.”

Mastroianni said it was a significant event in Huntington history.

“This is the only thing that excited the people of Huntington because of something that happened in Huntington — not a school, not the town, nothing political,” Mastroianni said. “This was a happening.”

Hughes agreed.

“What’s remarkable is that 70 years later, the people who were there still remember it and still think it was the most fantastic event ever,” he said.

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