Days of rain led up to the 26th Annual Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co.’s LobsterFest last week, but the addition of a series of tents to cover guests as they approached the ticket tables and then the bays of the firehouse — where lobster dinners (or steak, or surf and turf, if that was their preference) awaited them — made the first night of the annual two-day event go a little smoother than expected.
The arrival of sunshine the following day brought larger crowds for the second night of LobsterFest. Well before the end of Saturday night, the company was calling the event a success.
Firefighters served up at least 1,850 lobsters last week, and 625 pounds of steak. A small percentage of attendees opted for hamburger or hot dog dinners. Others added a serving of cooked shrimp, a dozen clams or steamers to their order, courtesy of a raw bar. Plenty of people spent additional time after dinner under the outdoor tents set up in front of the Riverside Road fire station listening to live music, dancing, and socializing.
In addition to the company’s members, as well as the Junior Corps and Ladies Auxiliary, who also help this event run smoothly, Sandy Hook was aided by more friends than usual this year. Family members stepped up to work on the serving line, sell T-shirts, even be part of the crew that helped clear tables as diners finished so that others could have a seat.
Jim Spunt took over raffle duties this year, showing off a 10-pound lobster each night and selling tickets for the oversized crustacean. As he wheeled an impromptu table around the firehouse bays, children and adults alike stopped him for a closeup look at the creature. Many took photos of Mr Spunt and the lobster. Some children timidly reached their hands toward the marine animals.
Outdoors, Danbury’s Mill Plain Fire Department sent a crew of fire police to support Sandy Hook’s fire police both nights. The first 80-plus yards of Dickinson Drive, which had been closed to traffic since 12/14, was reopened to help move traffic as attendees arrived.
The fire station’s back parking lot was used for handicapped parking and for those who were stopped just long enough to pick up takeout orders. With Sandy Hook School’s parking lot still closed (the property has not been open to the public since 12/14) — a location where many festival attendees have parked in past years — the fire company instead used a field to the south of its rear parking lot for additional parking. A gravel driveway led into the field, which was illuminated by portable light towers. Fire police officers helped dozens of vehicles find their way into the new parking location each night, which worked very well even during Friday’s continued rain.
Many residents look forward to LobsterFest each year, and plan not only to have dinner at the fire station but also to catch up with friends and family after they eat. This year Sandy Hook was visited by additional guests, including a group of parishioners from St John’s UCC in St John’s, Penn., on a return trip four months after church members delivered lunch to Sandy Hook for all of Newtown’s first responders; a bus of firefighters and family members from Terryville, Long Island, who arrived early Saturday afternoon; and a large group from Warren, also on Saturday.
Also making the trek this year was Chesapeake Beach (Va.) Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department Captain Brittany Boyce Coutcher. A former resident, Ms Coutcher was joined by two other members of her current fire company for the weekend trip, which was at least their second this year. Members of the eastern Virginia fire company were in Sandy Hook in March, presenting the fire company with a pair of large custom-made display cases for the growing collection of shoulder patches the local fire company has received since 12/14.
Bridgeport Fire Department members were at LobsterFest both nights. Firefighter Cef Rivera and friends dined in the bays on Friday, and then returned for another round of dinner as well as some fundraising on Saturday. Mr Rivera and Paul Neugebauer were among those setting up a tent and selling Together We Are Stronger shirts, which the department is selling to raise funds for a carousel it hopes to help bring into Sandy Hook.
As always, organizers are already looking toward the future.
In a Newtown Bee Letter to the Editor this week, this year’s LobsterFest committee thanked everyone who helped present the event, along with everyone who attended last weekend.
“Thank you for the continued support of Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue,” wrote LobsterFest Committee members Anthony Capozziello, Karin Halstead, George Lockwood Jr, Mike Burton and Matt Dobson. “Mark your calendars for the 27th annual on June 6 and 7, 2014!”