Dan Rattiner's Stories

July 4th Forever: Looking Back at 10 Days of Patriotic Hamptons Fireworks

Leftover stories from Independence Day 2018.

Here are a few leftover stories from the Fourth of July.

Dan’s Hamptons Media, which publishes Dan’s Papers, held the first of what will eventually be five food-and-drink events on the East End on Memorial Day at the Southampton Arts Center on Jobs Lane for hundreds of guests. It was a sold-out celebration of rosé.

The second event was on the North Fork at the Halyard at Sound View Greenport. It was a sold-out five-course sit-down meal for 200, in a series of connected rooms that all have spectacular views of Long Island Sound. That’s because part of the Halyard is on pilings atop the boulders of the beach. It is surely the most spectacular sunset view on the East End.

That evening, fireworks popped, banged and showered over the Sound, from Connecticut, Greenport, Southold— virtually all over. Were these offerings ordered up by Dan’s? Well, of course!

Come to GrillHampton, the next Dan’s food-and-drink offering, at Fairview Farm on Mecox Bay on Friday evening, July 20. More than a thousand people are expected. Saturday, July 21 is our biggest event of the summer, Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, where some 1,500 people will eat dinner from more than 50 food and beverage tasting tables, again at Fairview Farm in Mecox. This is the biggest foodie event of the summer. Then, on August 4, comes Dan’s Corona MonTaco, another huge celebration, this time with a Mexican twist, at Gurney’s Montauk Yacht Club and Resort.

Towne Cellars Leaderboard

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At least a dozen fireworks events celebrated the Fourth of July in and around the villages of the Hamptons. All went off as planned, except for the one at Umbrella Beach in Montauk. There, the fire department display was scheduled for 25 minutes with a big grand finale at the end. But it only got through about 12 minutes. Then it stopped. Mid-bang, so to speak. What went wrong? The crowd grumbled. Then left.

The fire department later explained it. According to Patch, a series of wires and fuses were supposed to go off in a slowly unfolding display of patriotic fervor for 20 minutes. After 12 minutes, however, the wiring sputtered out. Nobody dared try to hook it back up. It was dark. The ringing was in everybody’s ears. So that was that.

They’ll be back next year. Meanwhile, the East Hampton Fourth of July fireworks, as has been the case for the last 20 years, will be held on Labor Day weekend because, on the Fourth of July, endangered piping plover birds were still nesting on the beach and trying to raise their chicks without being disturbed.

* * *

In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, tickets for a high school prom were sent out bearing the slogan “Party Like It’s 1776.” The party was held at the Philadelphia National Constitution Center and students had fun, but Principal Dennis Ferry issued an apology to parents and teachers and others who might have been offended by the slogan. He said it was “insensitive and irresponsible” not to recognize that, since slavery was not abolished until 1846 in New Jersey, “not all communities can celebrate what life was like in 1776.”

* * *

The Vindicator, which is a daily newspaper in Liberty County, Texas (population 9,175), embarked on a plan to publish the Declaration of Independence. It’s a long document, but since the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday this year and the celebration extended for two weekends, The Vindicator decided to publish it in installments. They would run it for 12 consecutive days, both in print and on their website and social media sites.

On the 10th day, Facebook took down their Declaration post. They claimed a certain passage went beyond its “Community Standards.” It included the phrase “merciless Indian savages” in the part of the document that described the things that King George III was doing to hurt the colonists. He was not properly protecting them from Indian attacks.

The section Facebook blocked is paragraphs 27-31. It reads “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring out the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

The managing editor of The Vindicator, Casey Stinnett, wrote Facebook that “it is a very great irony that the words of Thomas Jefferson should now be censored in America.”

Facebook wrote back that they would restore the Declaration post. They said the hate-seeking robot they use had done the deed. So it wasn’t their fault, but they would fix it.

This whole encounter went viral. Someone recalled that a year ago, National Public Radio had tweeted the Declaration in short bursts, resulting in Trump supporters calling NPR out for disseminating “propaganda.”

* * *

Southampton High School no longer decides who are valedictorian and salutatorian at the school, feeling that the competition between all the kids is too upsetting. Instead, they give out graduation “with highest honors” or “high honors” or just “honors.” And they hold an essay contest to decide who should give the student speech at graduation.

On the other hand, East Hampton High and Pierson High in Sag Harbor do give out those designations. In East Hampton the two winners had their photographs published on the front page of the East Hampton Star. Bridgehampton School, meanwhile, not only celebrates their high scorers in words, but publishes their names on the electrified billboard out front of the school for those driving by to see and admire.

* * *

Jaisaan Lovett was declared the valedictorian of University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York, but then was told he would not be allowed to deliver the graduation address, as all prior valedictorians have done over the years at that school.

The media has been all over this story, claiming that this was not only a violation of his freedom of speech but it was also about race, because Lovett is African-American—the first African-American ever to be valedictorian at that school. The school was asked to respond to this, but so far hasn’t.

As a result of this snub, though, the mayor of that city, Lovely Warren (D), offered to have Lovett deliver his valedictory address to a large crowd facing the steps of City Hall, which he did.

But this may not have been about race.

In his speech, posted on the City’s Youtube channel, Lovett began “I’m here as the UPrep 2018 valedictorian to tell you that you couldn’t break me. And I’m still here, and I’m still here strong.”

Lovett wasn’t speaking about black-and-white, but about his run-ins with school founder Joseph Munno over his six years in the school. He told a reporter from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that he had led a five-day student strike after, he said, the school decided not to buy laboratory safety equipment. “There’s a lot of wrong things that go on at that school, and when I notice it I speak out against it,” he said.

He also said this in his speech: “After all these years, all this anger I’ve had toward you and UPrep as a whole, I realized I had to let that go in order to better myself. I forgive you for everything I held against you.”

He’s off to Clark Atlanta University on a full scholarship.

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