By Pamela Wong
The Village of Patchogue held its Seventh Annual Fall Festival in Downtown Patchogue Village this past Saturday, celebrating its new award as one of the Great Places in America of 2019 by The American Planning Association (APA).
The APA has been picking communities across America since 2007, and Patchogue is the first on Long Island to be awarded this achievement. The ceremony saw the unveiling of the plaque awarded to the village in front of the Patchogue Theatre in an event that brought together roughly 5,000 people.
The Fall Festival featured chili and chowder tastings from the different restaurants, a children’s costume parade, petting zoo, live music and vendors.
“I feel so much pride in my hometown neighborhood,” Alex Wallach, urban planner and the person who nominated the village for the recognition, said. “It’s been very exciting getting to tell people in the community that the neighborhood would be recognized as one of the Great Places in America!”
In 1996, Patchogue was described by a New York Times article as “dilapidated,” with building windows “boarded up and extensive fire damage visible from the street.” Over the years, the village has gone through several stages of revitalization of its architecture, while still keeping that small town charm.
“From a sociology perspective, what we have is a community celebrating its revival,” Anna Maria Bounds, a Queens College professor of sociology, said. “If you have a community on the decline… People get on board with [an improvement] plan like [Patchogue] did.”
Patchogue had what Bounds calls “community resilience.” The developments involved communities and private partnerships. “They were able to really improve their neighborhood and… fight decline… to move it forward instead of harking back in the past,” Bounds said.
“It’s amazing to be designated one of the Great Places in America,” David Kennedy, Executive Director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber, said. Kennedy, a life-long resident of Patchogue, considers the designation as “something [he’s] known all [his] life and it’s nice to let the rest of America know that as well.”
What the Village of Patchogue brings to the table are what Wallach calls “the thriving downtown neighborhood,” with restaurants, bars, and stores all within walking distance, as well as a vibrant arts scene.
“[I] love it here—the fact that [you] can walk downtown and grab a coffee from one of the local places is awesome too,” Kesey Mendelsohn, resident of Patchogue of four years, said. “[The award is] a big accomplishment from where it’s come from in the past, because of how much it’s been built up and more people want to be here, and it brings a lot of people to the area—it lets them know about it.”
With the increased foot traffic at the festival, vendors could reach more customers and provide their goods to a larger crowd.
“When [Patchogue] has events, we come here,” Meghan Bush, owner of Meghan’s Munchie Farmstand, said. “I think [holding events] like this helps and makes people become aware of the town also. People who aren’t local and they see it and they come here and what it has to offer.”