Brighton Festival To Go Forward Despite Hurricane Predictions (UPDATED: EVENT CANCELED)
UPDATE (3:25 p.m.): Organizers have made a snap decision to cancel the event. For full details, see our updated post.
Organizers of the annual Brighton Jubilee aren’t relenting with their plans to press forward with the Sunday event, despite the threat of Hurricane Irene making landfall in the area on the same day. But the city may pull the plug anyway.
The Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association said this afternoon that they’re going ahead with the 35-year-old event, pitting the resilience of attendees and vendors against potential rains and strong winds related to Hurricane Irene.
“We’re still going forward with the Jubilee as of this moment, so we’ll see,” said Pat Singer, the BNA’s executive director. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope [the forecasts are] wrong.”
The Annual Brighton Jubilee is slated to take place on Sunday, August 28. The Jubilee is a multi-block festival that runs along Brighton Beach Avenue turning down Coney Island Avenue. According to organizers, about 125,000 residents flock to it every year to check out two stages of live entertainment, several blocks of shopping, international food vendors and attractions for kids.
But despite their efforts to push forward, the event’s fate may be out of the BNA’s hands this year. With Brighton Beach in a hurricane evacuation zone, the city may pull the permits from the organization at the last minute to ensure the safety of attendees. A decision will be made tomorrow, and the organizers will have to react accordingly.
If the event is canceled, it would be the second time in the event’s 35-year history; the first was about 20 years ago, Singer said.
“Somehow God has been very good to us, but I don’t know if he’ll be good this year,” Singer said.
Over the years, however, the city has altered its policies towards street festivals and permits. Currently, the city rarely allows rain date permits, and the Jubilee has been billed for years as a rain-or-shine event.
This year, though, the city has made the unusual move of telling the BNA that, if permits are pulled, they would give them rain date options, allowing the event to go on another day.
That’s good news for Singer and the BNA. The event is the only fundraiser for the organization. The group has already spent approximately $8,000 on this year’s plans, and a full cancellation would require them to return sponsor fees to those who paid. Previously racked by office floods and budget cuts, canceling the festival could be enough of a financial onus to put the organization out of business altogether.
But even rescheduling the event could cause problems. Other events in September – including a Caribbean festival, Jewish holidays and September 11 – blocks out many dates, and vendors might have other commitments, Singer said.
For now, though, Singer is putting her stock in with the city. If they haven’t called it off by now, she believes the event will be able to go forward despite some rains.
“If the city says we’ll get through it and it won’t be that bad – with all their experts and meteorologists – then we’ll believe them,” she said.
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