Attending free concerts in Long Island parks has always been a fun tradition for my family. Not only because we enjoy the orchestral sounds of summer but because we ourselves are a musical family. My daughter, Doreen, plays the flute, my husband, Gary, plays the accordion, and my specialty is the violin. Nevertheless, we love concerts of any genre.
You play it, and we’ll be there. With the worst of the pandemic seemingly over, we’ve been plotting our summer concert schedule. We attend concerts, free or not, all over the Island.
For many years, we’ve been to the Fourth of July concert in Glen Cove’s Morgan Park Summer Music Festival. It is a festive event, complete with picnickers, vendors selling light-up necklaces and, of course, an abundance of ice cream trucks. Color is added with flags, and almost everyone — including us — is dressed in red, white or blue garments. A talented group plays patriotic music, capped by stellar fireworks around 9 p.m. We missed this event during the pandemic.
Also in Glen Cove, starting July 1, dance bands will entertain us for the 25th year, rocking the city with their downtown concerts. We’re there every summer. The streets are closed, and sounds permeate the area. All we need do is bring our chairs and dancing shoes.
The concerts at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater are a blast. You can’t beat a venue right by the water with plenty of free parking. One doesn’t need to travel far to find places to get food and water to bring along. We don’t mind paying more for these concerts because of the top-notch talent and the seating with good sight lines, and the view is gorgeous.
Every summer, we attend a few concerts at the Salt Shack Seaside Grill on Ocean Parkway in Babylon. It’s also on the water, at Cedar Beach, with a dance floor and ample outdoor dining, parking, delicious summer drinks and a laid-back attitude among the audience. It’s a treat watching the sun set over the water, with food and drink in hand and upbeat music coming from the speakers.
For chamber ensembles, the Bayard Cutting Arboretum is the place to be. We enjoy the peaceful, beautiful grounds, walk the trails, listen to the chamber music, and grab a bite at the cafe overlooking the great lawn. These concerts match the park’s ambience. Strolls are included with the price of admission, and parking is free with a state Empire Pass.
And, yes, there’s more. We revel at the concerts at the gazebo on Main Street in Bay Shore, the Village Green at Westhampton Beach, the Marina Green in Northport, and Heckscher Park in Huntington. And who can forget the always-popular shows at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, Tanner Park in Copiague, Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa, and Mineola Memorial Park. These are just a handful of our frequented parks.
One classical favorite that unfortunately has been canceled for this year, the Islip Arts Council’s concert in Heckscher State Park in East Islip, would be followed by fireworks. Amid an often-blazing sun, we, among hundreds of other people, would set up picnics on card tables.
We indeed love to picnic, enjoy the outdoors, and just sit and enjoy the music, surrounded by people who also savor and appreciate the sounds. Another musical summer on Long Island is enveloping us. There’s no place else we’d rather be.
Reader Cindy Pacini lives in West Islip.