Submitted by Mindy Skura, owner of Remember Yesteryears.
As the former Alive After Five Coordinator for eight years, and past Patchogue Chamber President, I would like to comment on the controversy of Alive After Five and correct many of the misnomers written by those who have not attended this Event for the past few years.
AA5 had become one of the Chambers major sources of income, besides Membership dues. While the Chamber's committees all have their own fund raising events- they are minimal in profit, and that money is used for that committee to function for that year. The Chamber was able to utilize the monies raised from AA5 to grow (ie: help purchase patchogue.com and new computers) and supplement some of their yearly base expenses- like the executive director's salary.
For those who haven't attended recently- you were missing a really fun evening. With the cooperation of the Village and the Fifth Precinct, I changed AA5 to accommodate EVERY age group. Advertising was on radio stations geared to families and 30+ year-olds. You could walk up and down Main Street and S. Ocean Avenue, shop at the local merchants or 100 visiting vendors, eat outside or indoors, the children could go on rides, play games or have their faces painted- all while listening to live music- from rock to blues. The beer gardens were barricaded for those who wished to consume alcohol- no one was allowed in without ID- and no one was allowed out with a drink in hand.
There were 35 PSI private security guards (who were all phenomenal) stationed throughout the event, making sure children under 18 were accompanied by a parent and any issues that occurred were resolved immediately. The Fifth Precinct had a presence both inside and outside the event (thank you to Cope and the Inspector). The Village Code did a great job of blocking the entrances and exits, and ensured traffic flow. All three groups worked together fluidly, and there were no major situations due to this cooperation the past few years.
AA5 was initially developed to bring recognition to Patchogue and the Chamber's members. As the economy changed, so did the membership base. The fact that Patchogue installed a sewer system, gave way for the influx of restaurants and bars- and less retail and more service businesses.
Yes, AA5 mostly benefits the local restaurants. But these restaurants are also the main reason it survived. Without their financial support, AA5 cannot be sustained profitably.
It's existence also trickled down to help all of the business owners in Patchogue- both in the Village and on the outskirts. I, as a retail store owner in town, would hear repeatedly from customers that they found us because they were at AA5, but were with friends or didn't wish to carry packages around, so they returned on another day to shop and explore Patchogue. There is no amount of advertising dollars that I can spend that will showcase my business to the thousands of people that attend this event.
I am no longer involved with the Chamber or chair this event. The board, while all wonderful people, in my opinion, do not grasp the Chamber is a business, and needs to be managed like one. I understand both the Village's and Fifth Precinct's reasons for changing the night. Their involvement is crucial to make AA5 work. But if this event is not in the black, or ceases to exist, the Chamber will once again be scrambling to stay at the break even line. I am not sure if they understand this reality. Every space available needs to be maximized for profitability- this is how the bills get paid.
Unfortunately, the restaurants, who support this event, cannot afford to pay for the bands and rent outside space for the dollar amount needed by the Chamber to be profitable, without the allowance of alcohol in their barricaded areas. Food service just doesn't reap the profit margin necessary for the restaurants to hire additional servers, pay for rent, security and the bands. And the Chamber needs dedicated volunteers all evening willing to run around the streets overseeing the 35 private security guards, the crowd control at the restaurants and bands, and helping the 100 vendors set up and break down to make the flow acceptable- something they never had to deal with, as I handled those aspects.
I personally, would have asked for Sunday if I was at the meeting that discussed the change or had been asked by those now trying to run AA5. It's a slow day in the Village- a perfect opportunity for Patchogue. The afternoon could have been devoted to families- and from 6 p.m.-8:45 p.m. the bands could play. Main Street would be open again at 10 p.m. Parking spaces are available. The same reason as the switch to Thursday could have been employed- Monday is a work day.
For those residents who despise this event, remember one thing when your tax bill arrives. If all our businesses fronts in the Village are full, it brings up your property values, as well as sustains your tax base. Turn a negative into a positive. The inconvenience of a few hours four times a year, is worth the financial benefits you will reap when you decide to sell your homes!! Plus, you have the opportunity to enjoy a free evening out with your family and friends, eat, listen to your favorite local bands, and to Discover Patchogue...